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Internet2 workshops aim to bolster campus cyberinfrastructure

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to Internet2 to support small, non-research focused colleges and universities that have notable research projects and cyberinfrastructure needs. The two-year project, Broadening the Reach: Support of Campus Cyberinfrastructure at Non-Research-Intensive and EPSCoRInstitutions, will consist of three workshops and up to 30 consulting visits to campuses.

Internet2 is a member-owned advanced technology community. Founded by the United States' leading higher education institutions in 1996, Internet2 operates the nation's largest and fastest, coast-to-coast research and education network. Serving more than 90,000 community anchor institutions, the network includes over 245 universities, 70 government agencies, 38 regional and state education networks, 60 leading corporations, and 100 national R&E networking partners representing more than 50 countries.Image courtesy Internet2.

"The three regional workshops funded by this grant will enable Internet2 to help schools respond competitively to NSF infrastructure solicitations," says Steve Wolff, the grant's principal investigator and Internet2's chief technology officer. "The consulting visits will allow us to assist, as requested, in both the technical and organizational implementation of campus networks to support campus researchers."

The first workshop will take place February 18-19 in Kansas City, Missouri, US. The remaining workshops, still to be scheduled, will take place on the west and east coasts. Each workshop will focus on various aspects - technical, organizational, protective (identity and access management), and administrative - of upgrading and integrating cyberinfrastructure into the campus environment. The workshops will also include topics that address infrastructure proposals to the NSF and the identification of research drivers within the campus environment.

Up to 30 institutions will be eligible to receive campus consultations, with preference given to organizations that have received NSF infrastructure awards or attended the workshops. Campus consultants will advise and assist with technical implementation, network administrator, and CIO-level issues. Areas of technical assistance may include network security, science DMZ, software defined networking (SDN), performance monitoring infrastructure, and tools for understanding end-to-end performance. Network administrator and CIO-level administrative issues may include understanding the relationship between campus IT policies and underlying network infrastructure.

The project will increase the number of campuses capable of participating in cyberinfrastructure-based projects, and plans include broadly disseminating project findings. The project activities build upon Internet2's track record of campus infrastructure enhancement, campus-focused network performance workshops, and tools to foster intra- and inter-campus collaboration. Anticipated impact includes analysis of removing barriers and meeting needs in campus cyberinfrastructure, and of the other benefits to non-research-intensive campuses (including remote instruction) that may not participate otherwise.

The NSF recently announced the availability of funding for the third round of its Campus Cyberinfrastructure - Infrastructure, Innovation and Engineering (CC*IIE) program. This funding continues NSF's original focus on campus-level network service improvements to support data transfer and movement, as well as network integration activities to enhance high performance for science applications and distributed research projects.

The goals of the CC*IIE program intersect with Internet2's national Innovation Platform, which supports deeply programmable networks through SDN, deployment of science DMZs on campus networks, rapid adoption of 100 gigabit in campus network architectures to encourage applications innovation, and integrated end-to-end capabilities verified through performance diagnostic monitoring.

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