David Foster, Chairman of the Programme Committee for the 2013 TERENA Networking Conference, writes in the Call for Papers for that conference: National Research and Education Networks are facing a period of change and evolving their business models and service offerings. With increasing emphasis on international collaborations, user communities need innovative approaches to exploit the rapid evolution of technologies that are increasingly reliant on excellent networking.

This edition of the Compendium documents that evolution in several different ways.
Technological innovation remains at the heart of what National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) are about. Due to the advent of highcapacity networks, congestion at the levels of campus, backbone and external connections seems to have been largely resolved for the time being.
In recent years, two key innovations have shaped NREN developments:
• NRENs have started to develop and deploy new Authentication and
Authorisation Infrastructures;
• The spread of ‘dark fibre’ networks has enabled novel network architectures that are both more cost-effective and better able to meet changing user demands.

Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructures (AAI) are key to giving users access to services independently of the user’s and the service’s physical location. AAI is now offered by 25 GÉANT partner NRENs, which has enabled
the introduction of new services and the development of collaborative platforms that were not previously possible. Thus, compared to 2011, there has been considerable growth in the area of services for collaborative groups.
Fifteen GÉANT partner NRENs currently offer such services, up from nine in 2011. Similarly, compared to 2011, there has been growth in the area of cloud resources. Eleven of the GÉANT partner NRENs currently offer virtualisation services, up from seven last year. Fourteen others are planning to introduce them. Furthermore, work in the area of e-learning is increasing: fifteen of the GÉANT partner NRENs currently provide an e-learning service, up from ten in 2011. Note that an AAI itself does not require high-capacity networks — although a number of the services that can be made accessible via such an AAI
do depend on high-performance networks.

Most of the GÉANT partner NRENs have joined or are planning to join the eduGAIN interfederation service; this holds the promise of service access across federations. In recent years, there has been a rapid spread of dark fibre links in the European NREN community, not only in NREN backbones (to more than 110 000 km in 2012), but also in links between NRENs and in connections to client institutions.

Approximately half of the GÉANT NRENs already connect all or nearly all of the universities within their national borders with dark fibre, which is also being provided to many other client institutions. NRENs beyond the GÉANT area are also connecting clients with dark fibre. The move from managed network links to their own transmission infrastructure has enabled NRENs to develop new features and services at various levels and in various areas, including:
• Campus networks at regional and national levels;
• Premium IP networks;
• Hybrid and multi-protocol networks;
• Wavelength or lambda services;
• Dynamic lambdas.

Via a dark fibre infrastructure, NRENs can offer virtual private networks (VPNs) as a service. Thus, a single university campus and its LAN can extend across multiple separate sites, which can bring significant savings in service and support costs for university IT departments. In the GÉANT area, this is currently being done by ten NRENs.

Read the TERENA Compendium of National Research and Education Networks in Europe, 2012 Edition

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