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NET+ 2015 in Review

Dec 15, 2015, by Andrew Keating
Tags: Frontpage News, Internet2 NET+

A group of universities and Internet2 launched the NET+ program over three years ago as a pilot amidst much hesitation about “the cloud” and uncertainty about the role that higher education would play in engaging with cloud service providers. Thanks to the efforts of over 120 universities that have participated in NET+ service validations, at the end of 2015, there are dozens of community-vetted services available for campus subscriptions. Literally hundreds more cloud services have been proposed by Internet2 member universities. Everyone’s efforts have demonstrated unequivocally that by working together and collaborating at community cloud scale we can deliver more value than any single campus or system could on its own. 

Program Highlights from 2015

Overall, there were over 30% more service subscriptions year over year, meaning that even more campuses are signing up for and consuming validated NET+ offerings, whether signing up for their first service, upgrading, or adding another service. Established programs like Box, Canvas, CrashPlan, Duo Security, and Splunk added dozens of new subscriptions each and more recent additions to the catalog like DocuSign and LastPass have been of interest by the community.

Among the new programs, Amazon Web Services by DLT stands out for adding over 30 new campuses subscribers. In signing up, each of these campuses went through a rigorous review of the materials created during the NET+ service validation process (such as the customized agreement) and developed plans about how they would link accounts owned by individual faculty, researchers, and staff across their campuses. Campuses joining the NET+ program benefit from the work done by their peers in developing a higher education specific contract vehicle and business model for AWS across distributed enterprises. This work has been a significant step toward broader cloud adoption many campuses have taken this year.

Two additional established programs, Microsoft Azure and Office 365, saw substantial enhancements and growth this year. We launched an Internet2/Microsoft community both online and had monthly calls that included representatives from over 35 Internet2 member universities. Internet2 and Microsoft added private network peering this year, which will benefit all Internet2 members and the broader research and education community.

Community has always been the key element of the NET+ program and there have been several key developments this year that speak to the ongoing work Internet2 aims to facilitate among our university members. At the 2015 Global Summit in the spring, there were a significant number of sessions led by community members, service providers, and NET+ team members regarding cloud services (many of those session details are available online). We heard from the community that security and infrastructure were key areas of interest related to their cloud strategies and cloud adoption, so we facilitated a workshop focused on Security at the 2015 Technology Exchange as well as a pre-conference extended session on Infrastructure Architecture. At EDUCAUSE this fall, we engaged beyond the Internet2 member community with a pre-conference workshop “Cloud 101” that covered the common challenges campuses face in moving to the cloud as well as the solutions and strategies being developed.

We faced a challenge this year in our ongoing efforts to facilitate conversations and engagement around specific services and programs as we attempted to implement NET+ communities on the new Internet2 Forum platform. Although having access to migrated email archives and historical discussions, as well as threaded discussions outside of email has been useful to many community members, we heard from many of you that taking conversations out of email listserves made communicating challenging. We’re continuing to assess which platforms to use in order to best facilitate discussion, share materials, and collaborate around all NET+ programs and welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Looking Ahead to 2016

The rapid and steady growth of the NET+ catalog continues as we finish 2015 and the new year begins: several new services are moving into the NET+ Early Adopter phase and will be open for subscription, including Acquia, ServiceNow, and Splunk Cloud (formal announcements pending final signoff from their service validation universities). Campuses are close to completing work on developing programs with Akamai, CloudLock, Rackspace, VMWare, Omnibond, R Systems, Skyhigh Networks, Zoom, and others (all slated for launch in Q1 2016). New services are being proposed and sponsored on a regular basis as well, including recently: AirWatch, Cloudfind, Tervela’s Cloud FastPath, Tenable Security, and Webroot. NET+ Service Validations for these and others, as well as for Dropbox (one of the most-requested services from the community), are planned to commence early in 2016 as well.

Beyond the continual, rapid addition of new services as they are proposed, sponsored, and validated by our member universities, we plan on significantly improving and enhancing existing offerings to differentiate them further from non-community offerings. You can expect to see additional integrations between NET+ services; more bundling of training, support, and add-on services; increased visibility of program elements; more consistency of standards and the presentation of materials across programs; and more consistency of information security and the communication of documentation across programs.

As we move into 2016 you may notice some shifts and adjustments in various programs such as changes in the lead Program Manager or realignment of portfolios. We aim to keep the NET+ catalog up to date and we will announce any updates we make that may impact campuses. We plan on keeping up the steady pace of blog posts, announcements, and updates established in 2015 to keep you informed, but please don’t hesitate to contact with any questions, comments, or feedback on the program.

Best wishes for a restful and joyous holiday season from the entire NET+ team and we look forward to our continued work together in the new year!