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Cloud Learning and Skills Sessions

Overview

CLASS: Cloud Learning and Skills Sessions

Empowering the R&E Workforce to Leverage the Transformational Capabilities of Cloud Computing
 

Internet2 has explored the many challenges of fully leveraging cloud computing platforms with U.S. research and education (R&E) community stakeholders including CIOs, campus research computing center leaders, researchers, and funding agencies. These discussions have consistently highlighted the lack of suitable and sustainable training for our large, diverse, and distributed workforces as a significant factor hindering the effective use of cloud platforms.

As a result, Internet2 is partnering with major cloud providers and a select group of research universities* to develop the Cloud Learning and Skills Sessions (CLASS) program. Slated to begin this summer, this pilot program will assist U.S. higher education institutions, research IT organizations, and research groups by providing the necessary training to effectively leverage cloud platforms for research workflows.

The CLASS program will provide training and support workforce development by gathering and curating a collection of training materials tailored to the R&E community, and by providing online, cohort-based training that utilizes these materials.

A combination of vendor-neutral guidance for leveraging cloud platforms and training on the tools and technologies supported by public cloud providers will allow a broad range of research use-cases to more effectively leverage these important resources.  

Beginning in 2020, an initial cohort will focus on advanced research computing and data professionals with a sound knowledge of cloud platforms and an interest in (or a need for) developing more complex workflows that leverage advanced services and capabilities. A second offering beginning in winter 2021 will focus on foundational concepts for stakeholders with limited experience in utilizing cloud platforms in supporting research programs. 

For further questions or information about the CLASS program, please email class@internet2.edu.

*Initial group of participating research universities:

  • Harvard University 
  • Northwestern University
  • State University of New Jersey — Rutgers
  • University of Florida
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
FAQ

What is CLASS?

Cloud Learning and Skills Sessions (CLASS) is an Internet2 pilot program that seeks to help institutions, IT organizations supporting research, and research groups with training and workforce development through online cohort-based training programs tailored to the U.S. research and education (R&E) community. Vendor-neutral guidance for research using cloud platforms and training on specific platforms and technologies supported by multiple public cloud providers will ensure applicability across the diverse R&E community. The pilot program will consist of an advanced cohort to meet the needs of researchers at Internet2 schools currently leveraging one or more cloud platforms with identified use cases. Subsequent cohorts will include both foundational and advanced cohorts, recognizing that R&E institutions and research groups are at various stages of cloud adoption and proficiency. Training resources will be developed as part of the pilot program and will include contributions from the community, sponsors, and industry. Those resources will continually be updated to ensure currency with cloud capabilities and research use cases.

Why is Internet2 doing this?

Cloud adoption is still in its early stages across R&E in the U.S. Researchers and IT support teams struggle with not only the challenges of navigating multiple cloud platforms and the pace of change of these platforms, but also in transitioning their workflows to take advantage of continually evolving cloud capabilities. These needs are more acute as work becomes increasingly distributed and crosses the boundaries of individual research labs, institutions, and scholarly domains.

Members and participants in the Internet2 community are interested in addressing this collaboratively, sharing lessons learned and best practices. Our community has recognized that the challenge is larger than any one institution or researcher -- there is a need for cloud providers, institutions, and Internet2 to come together to address these challenges and support these issues collectively.

CLASS is driven by higher education members' most compelling needs as they navigate planning for the impacts of COVID-19 and the uncertainty for research continuity over the coming academic year. Even before the pandemic, data-driven discovery was impacting all aspects of research computing and data. Now cloud computing has become important component in supporting these important new research opportunities, as well as the resiliency of research computing and data on campuses.

What are the goals for the CLASS pilot program?

There are three goals of the CLASS pilot program:

  1. Exploration and creation of a continuous training model for cloud computing with research computing and data professionals across disciplines;
  2. Sharing and accelerating the adoption of emerging best practices in research computing and data in the cloud across the R&E community; and
  3. Improving requirements gathering for professional development and training from research computing and data professionals across the community.

Where does this program fall into the priorities of Internet2 in general?

This effort is a high priority for Internet2. Our community leaders value Internet2’s ability to serve as a convenor, neutral facilitator, and catalyst for innovation. Internet2 takes an inclusive, integrated, and vendor-neutral approach to all of its cloud services, programs, and technologies. Internet2 teams have laid the foundation for this work through previous engagements with cloud providers and member institutions across the NET+ program, advanced networking, trust and identity, and community engagement.

How is CLASS different from training programs offered through cloud providers?

CLASS is a program developed with leadership from some of the top research universities in the country in partnership with leading cloud providers. Input from these institutions has identified additional areas of workforce development not currently addressed through existing training programs offered by cloud providers. CLASS will address these gaps by focusing on common areas of interest in research computing and data across institutions, including security, complex workflows, and resource management across multiple research groups. The pilot and initial cohort will focus on advanced capabilities from cloud providers, supporting Internet2’s community preference for open source as well as contributory models for training and development.

How were institutions selected for this pilot?

Institutions were selected for the initial pilot (advanced curriculum offering) based on their ability to contribute to the curriculum development, their current experience with and utilization of cloud technologies, and leadership in the research computing and data community. For future cohorts, including those for the foundational curriculum, it is anticipated that a call-for-participation will be issued, providing the opportunity for broad community participation.

How does CLASS intersect with the NET+ program and/or E-CAS?

CLASS builds on successes of the NET+ program, the NSF-funded Exploring Clouds for the Acceleration of Science (E-CAS) project, and with Internet2’s Networking in the Cloud services, such as Cloud Connect, Internet2 Peering Exchange, and Rapid Private Interconnect with major cloud providers. Internal stakeholders across Internet2 have reviewed and provided input into the CLASS initiative. As with these previous programs and projects, CLASS has leveraged the convening power of Internet2 to solve issues collectively, resulting in the leveraging of these solutions more broadly across the community.

Why are you starting with the advanced cohort for this pilot?

The focus on advanced cloud computing training was identified as a key need by the initial cohort of participating institutions. Additionally, these same institutions have resources and materials that can be brought to bear for the benefit of the broader community in the creation of foundational training and cohort. Further, more resources currently exist for those institutions needing a foundational curriculum, making an advanced curriculum a more pressing need within the community.

How will CLASS be funded?

The CLASS pilot will be funded through Internet2’s 2020 budgeted funds and contributions from cloud providers. Initial pilot institutions are also contributing in-kind through existing content and staffing resources to support curriculum development.

What is the potential business model for such a program?

For the initial pilot phase, courses and training material will be developed from existing community and vendor resources, including contributions from the major cloud providers to support workshops customized to the R&E community. Over time, and as more resources and materials are developed, the courses may become fee-based to maintain the quality and currency of the offerings. Internet2 is confident that the community, CIOs, researchers, and technical staff, along with cloud vendors and funding agencies, will find these training opportunities valuable, and will view this offering as a worthwhile future investment of resources.

How will CLASS be measured and assessed?

CLASS will be assessed via evaluations from participants, CIO sponsors, and measures of increased cloud adoption across institutions for research. It is envisioned that CLASS will eventually become a platform for workforce development across research computing and data.

How does this initiative overlap with CloudBank?

The CLASS initiative is complementary to CloudBank. CloudBank is focused on the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) community (initially) and on the purchasing mechanisms for cloud use. In contrast, the Internet2 CLASS effort is focused on the scaling skills and workforce development for research computing across central, distributed, and research IT groups. The University of Washington is participating in both CloudBank and CLASS in recognition of the complementary benefits of both initiatives.

How does this initiative intersect with RHEDcloud?

This initiative is complementary to the security work of the RHEDcloud project. The CLASS effort is focused more broadly on skills development of the central and distributed research IT groups. Some modules, such as those focused on security and compliance, could be developed in conjunction with the RHEDCloud Foundation.

What is the timeline for the CLASS pilot?

How do I learn more about CLASS?

For more information, visit www.internet2.edu/class or email class@internet2.edu.