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Cloud Computing Resources and Steps Internet2 is Taking to Support the Research and Education Community

Mar 13, 2020, by Sean O'Brien
Tags: Internet2 NET+, Recent Posts

As the COVID-19 pandemic requires teaching, learning and administrative functions to move online, the research and education community has become increasingly reliant on cloud services to meet the needs of faculty, staff and students.

At present, our focus in this area at Internet2 is supporting our members by:

  1. Ensuring connectivity to cloud services over research and education networks
  2. Supporting the acquisition or expansion of licensing for cloud services through transparent and predictable community negotiated pricing and contract terms
  3. Facilitating the sharing of information and best practices 

Internet2 has developed an overview document to assist our members in understanding network impacts of increased online learning activities. As appropriate, we will also release updates for specific cloud services, as we did for Zoom earlier this week. Internet2 remains in close contact with major cloud vendors and service provider partners regarding any potential impact to both operations and ongoing programs. 

To support the use of cloud services by research and education institutions, Internet2 maintains a portfolio of cloud services as part of the NET+ program that have been selected and reviewed through a community-driven service evaluation process. Services in the portfolio include community negotiated contract terms of service and pricing and are administered by an Internet2 program manager and a community-based Service Advisory Board (SAB). 

Among these services are a number that support teaching, learning and online instructional delivery, including leading learning management systems and collaboration tools like Panopto and Zoom. All of these services are available to Internet2 higher education members and many are also available to affiliate members and non-members of Internet2. Service eligibility is available on each individual service page linked off our cloud services portfolio.

We remain actively engaged with these service providers and the SAB’s to ensure that both the provider and Internet2 are able to meet emerging needs as higher education institutions move more instruction online. 

To support our members, Internet2 can make the following information available for NET+ services upon request:

  1. A review copy of the community-negotiated Customer Agreement
  2. NET+ contract pricing which is predictable and transparent to the community
  3. Additional compliance, security and procurement documentation - as available for specific services

If you have any questions about how to sign up for any NET+ services, expand existing licensing, or if we can assist you in any way, please reach out to us at: netplus@internet2.edu.

We also know that many institutions are moving as quickly as they possibly can to move to online instruction and remote work and must prioritize keeping their institution running. When signing up for a free service or service that your institution may not want to use past the immediate response to COVID-19, several of the NET+ core principles are something you may want to keep in mind. Most specifically, the following short checklist could be helpful:

  1. Understand how your institution can get data out of the service and have an exit strategy.
  2. Make sure your institution maintains ownership of all data in the service and how the service handles your campus intellectual property.
  3. Make sure your institution can terminate the contract or service as needed or understand how termination works.
  4. Check for FERPA or other security and privacy language to protect student and institutional data. Try to integrate into InCommon or your campus SSO to help avoid additional confusion around new accounts and passwords.   

Finally, one of the key goals of any research and education network is bringing the community together to tackle tough problems. One of the many things that makes higher education special is the willingness of those who serve in the academy to collaborate. Each of our adopted NET+ cloud services maintain online communities of practice to support peer-to-peer sharing and collaboration. If you are a subscriber to these services via the NET+ program and need additional information on how to access subscriber resources, please email netplus@internet2.edu