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Higher Education Finds a Better Way to Implement Cloud Services

Posted on Apr 21, 2015 by Iljun Kim
Tags: 2015 Global Summit, Cloud Services & Applications, Frontpage News, Higher Education, Internet2 NET+

Global Summit Meeting Showcases NET+ Initiative’s Cloud Provider and Higher Ed Collaborations

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015—Cloud applications are changing the way we compute: from storage and security, to collaboration, content and beyond, the cloud is providing new opportunities for higher education institutions to rethink and re-architect every aspect of their cyberinfrastructure. Cloud service integration on campus is a key focus for today’s higher education IT departments, who are leveraging the cloud to improve operating efficiency while preserving data and taking advantage of advanced security services now available at cloud scale. At next week’s Internet2 Global Summit in Washington, D.C. IT leaders in the research and education (R&E) community will have the opportunity to discuss and collaborate on the latest advances in cloud technologies, share experiences and discover innovative ways of enhancing and deploying advanced technologies on campuses.

Cloud presentations at the Global Summit will cover a wide range of topics, including procurement best practices, campus experiences with trust and security services, cloud-enabled research applications, collaboration through interactive, streaming video and others. Morgon Haskell, an instructional support technology specialist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) will take part in a panel discussion by sharing how his university has seamlessly integrated the cloud-based video platform MediaCore into their Learning Management System on campus.

Haskell says one piece of advice he’ll give in his Global Summit presentation is the importance of coordination with different departments across campus for universities looking to integrate cloud services. “If a university is exploring cloud-based services then it is important to get members from different departments across campus involved,” Haskell says. “The collective intelligence gained by creating those partnerships is valuable. Collaboration can make integrating a cloud-based service efficient while fostering innovation and support.”

Internet2 NET+ leverages the power of community

Those same benefits of collaboration—collective intelligence, innovation and efficiency—are exactly the idea behind the successful R&E community-driven Internet2 NET+ initiative, a program in which UNC-CH and MediaCore are involved, and which is featured prominently in presentations and programs at the Global Summit.

The NET+ initiative is completing three years in production after being launched by a group of Internet2 member universities who realized the need to develop a collaborative strategy to make optimum use of rapidly expanding cloud technology offerings. The campuses worked together to create a mechanism to ensure important security, accessibility, integration and adoption standards were assimilated for the broader needs of their respective institutions and users. Their intuition about the explosion of cloud services was correct—according to soon-to-be-published results of a Campus Technology study on higher ed trends in cloud collaboration solutions, 87 percent of higher education IT decision makers favor a cloud or hybrid model on campus, with 63 percent citing better user mobility and improved operating efficiency as top cloud goals.

Internet2 member universities developed a rigorous service validation process for evaluating and developing cloud solutions that tests features and functionality, assesses security, integrates federated identity for seamless login of campus credentials and architects the services to the ultra-high-speed Internet2 Network backbone. NET+ providers and institutions also develop a common contract and business model, and produce documentation and support for peers.

Today, the NET+ process has continued to evolve and expand, with campuses working together to collectively vet the specific cloud solutions they believe can be effective in meeting the broader community’s challenges—not just at an individual campus, but on a national scale. They have helped create a simplified means of adoption that ultimately reduces costs and technology risks of migrating from on-campus to cloud-based solutions for the entire R&E community.

To date, more than 300 schools—including the likes of Cornell, Indiana, Notre Dame, the University of Southern California and Florida —have signed up for more than 600 subscriptions to a portfolio of approximately 50 peer-directed NET+ services, such as Amazon Web Services, Box, DocuSign and Blackboard.

‘Collaboration Creates Significant Value’

One such school, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, is a long-time participant in the Internet2 NET+ initiative. The university utilizes several NET+ cloud solutions, including Splunk, Box and Duo Security, and CWRU’s Chief IT Architect, Jeffrey Gumpf, volunteers on the Internet2 Cloud Services Working Group. Gumpf, who will be presenting on CWRU’s “cloud first” strategy at the Global Summit, notes the value his university has found in participating in NET+ involves certain practical elements of deploying cloud services on campus: common essentials that are critical to higher education like accessibility, security and identity integrations, combined with contract simplification, better pricing and integration with the Internet2 Network—the United States’ largest and fastest network for R&E.

“By the time a cloud service becomes available to Internet2 members via NET+, nearly all of the challenges of getting a good contract with a vendor have already been handled,” Gumpf says. “This is far simpler than negotiating individually.” He also points to the bottom line as a key advantage of NET+ due to the volume pricing available as more and more institutions use NET+ offerings—plus the savings of using services that leverage the Internet2 Network.

“The Internet2 Network is playing a significant role in institutions making robust network connections to the NET+ cloud providers. This is something that would be very costly to create and maintain as individual institutions or with services that aren’t part of NET+,” Gumpf says.

It’s these advantages that make NET+ a practical, economical and credible option for universities. In much the same way that Haskell found collaboration vital to his deployment of the MediaCore cloud solution, Gumpf says, ultimately, it’s the collaborative nature of NET+ that has led to that program’s success as well.

“This collaboration creates significant value by not having to replicate the same work over and over again at each institution,” he says. “It helps avoid pitfalls of adopting new services and technology while allowing the Internet2 community to adopt new services and technology at a much faster pace. It helps reduce the costs of these services in a way that would not be possible if we all worked in isolation.”

Presentations:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Interviews and images are available to members of the media upon request. Reporters interested in obtaining a press badge for the Global Summit should contact Angela Stark, astark@internet2.edu or 202.803.8996.

About Global Summit
The Global Summit is Internet2’s annual meeting that showcases how the research and education (R&E) community is transforming the way research and scholarship are conceived and conducted. The 2015 meeting, taking place April 26-30 in Washington, D.C., will focus on the advancement of research capabilities through collaborative innovations in IT infrastructure and applications. Through strong academic leadership, perceptive global engagement and advanced innovations in networking and services, the Internet2 community continues its legacy of leading the way in expanding and transforming the global R&E community’s capabilities to advance research and academic excellence.

About Internet2
Internet2® is a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation's leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 provides a collaborative environment for U.S. research and education organizations to solve common technology challenges, and to develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research, and community service missions. Internet2 also operates the nation’s largest and fastest, coast-to-coast research and education network, in which the Network Operations Center is powered by Indiana University. Internet2 serves more than 90,000 community anchor institutions, 260 U.S. universities, 65 government agencies, 40 regional and state education networks, 85 leading corporations working with our community and more than 65 national research and education networking partners representing more than 100 countries. Internet2 offices are located in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Emeryville, Calif.; Washington, D.C; and West Hartford, Conn. For more information, visit www.internet2.eduor follow @Internet2 on Twitter.

Media contact: Angela Stark, Internet2, 202.803.8996 or astark@internet2.edu