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Towards the clouds, together. Collaboration on cloud services in research and education

Andres Steijaert
TrackTrack 1
DescriptionTowards the Clouds, Together  
Collaboration on cloud services in research and education
 
Cloud services offer the Research and Education sector huge opportunities. The cloud empowers users to select and use the services they really want, in an easy and often economically attractive manner. Cloud services offer higher education and research organisations the opportunity to become more agile and provide their users with a wider range of relevant IT services, at a faster pace. IT departments can use the instant availability and elasticity of cloud services (rapid expansion or contraction of capacity) to reduce development time and modify their expenditure profile. Thus reducing the need for periodic and large capital expenditure (CAPEX), and moving to a smoother more predictable operational expenditure (OPEX, pay-per-use model).
 
The standard delivery of cloud services by commercial organizations however, is often incompatible with the requirements of higher education and research. There are significant challenges on trust, security, privacy, legislation and regulation. These issues have different implications between cloud services used in a private capacity, compared to services used within a research environment, where the ownership of data and the need to ensure strong custodial control are paramount.  
There are also issues regarding data portability and interoperability. Vendors have a commercial imperative to maintain users and reduce churn within their user base and so have little incentive to collaborate with competitors on these issues.
 
These are cross-border phenomena which have a major impact on the research and education community. It is therefore essential that higher education and research collaborate on a European level, so that the benefits of the cloud can be fully realised and the attendant risks are fully understood and appropriately managed.  By presenting a united front, the R&E community can work to guide and influence cloud service providers in these areas.  
 
This presentation will highlight how these risks can be mitigated and managed through a coordinated approach and implementation of a range of Best Practices across the community. In addition, through developing a range of procurement guidelines, collaboration can reduce the learning curve for brokering these services and minimise duplication of standards and policies.  
 
About GÉANT  
As the pan-European data network dedicated to the research and education community, GÉANT connects 40 million users to the internet. Through its innovative access and authentication services of eduroam and eduGAIN, GÉANT has long experience in the fields of user access services and federated service authentication and delivery.  
In GÉANT, 34 National Research and Education Network organizations collaborate on the cloud and address topics like cloud strategy, standards, interoperability, privacy and security, cloud brokerage and procurement, vendor management and integration. The presenter will share how GÉANT supports higher education and research on both a strategic and practical level to:  
• Get a better understanding of the full range of cloud computing solutions and their capabilities and limitations.  
• Incorporate cloud activities in their roadmaps and portfolios including developing service models for access to brokered services.  
• Facilitate their user-base in adopting the cloud with the right conditions of use, through development of a range of Campus Best Practice guidelines.  
 
The audience will be invited to comment on these initiatives and relate these to the situation in their institution. Attendees will learn about the tools, instruments, and the approach to help their institute respond to and benefit from the cloud. The presenter will reserve ample time for discussion to gather input for the joint European cloud activities in GÉANT.

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