People - The Lifeblood of the Network

Room C - Thu 14:45


Tom Fryer - GÉANT

It is a truism to say that research and education is global. But how often do we remind ourselves that every researcher, academic and student is a part of that global network? And that they all have needs to be met if they are to achieve their goals?

Research and education networks exist to support R&E community members in achieving their goals. Yet when users hear about how R&E networks support specific user groups, the connection with their own situation may seem disjointed or unclear. Through a series of stories, this presentation will show that there is a common thread to all the user support stories we hear, and that this common thread is relevant for each and every user group and individual user.

NRENs like HEAnet offer a multitude of essential services (e.g. connectivity, mobility, trust, identity and security, storage and clouds, real-time communication systems) which enable efficient and effective R&E cooperation and collaboration, in-country and across the globe. Yet the vital, mission-critical element which enables R&E networks to deliver a world-class service to end users is the people who work for the networks, and the global organic human network they belong to, all working for a common cause, keen to learn from each other, share experiences and find solutions together for the challenges our users face.

Of course, NRENs have formal procedures for service development, deployment and delivery. However, the global human network of NRENs adds an extra dimension in providing solutions for end users which cannot easily be quantified, except that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This presentation will use an eclectic selection of case studies to show how the global NREN human network has delivered added value for specific groups or individuals. Some examples relate to Ireland, others to elsewhere in Europe or the rest of the world. The common element is that the human network made a difference. Themes that will be covered in the presentation will include the following:

• Support to tropical disease research communities
• Connecting sites in challenging locations (the mountain-top birthplace of Zeus; UCD RCSI branch campus in Bahrain)
• The arts and humanities
• The environment
• Cloud services

The stories told will all point back to the key message that through HEAnet, Irish institutions and their end users have access not only to a plethora of services, but also a gateway to a human network of thousands around the world, eager to help. No one is operating alone at their own institution, NREN or regional network, and no matter the user’s need, we tackle it all together.