by Manisha Lalloo, e-ScienceTalk
This week I’ve been in Prague for TNC2011 – the TERENA Networking Conference. As someone who takes my internet connection very much for granted, the world of networking is fairly new to me, and I’m still trying to get my head around how DANTE and GÉANT differ, and what exactly NREN stands for.
So for any of those who are also confused by these various new acronyms and organisations here’s a quick run down.
DANTE (based in Cambridge) is the organisation in charge of setting up and maintaining the pan-European data network for the research and education community. They take care of the day-to-day running of it all – they’re EGI.eu of networks, if you will.
The network itself is called GÉANT, and it connects 40 million users in over 8,000 institutions, across 40 countries. GÉANT is part funded by the European Commission under the GN3 project, which is coordinated by DANTÉ. GN3 (the project) and GÉANT (the network) differ in that the project also includes networking, service and joint research activities.
The reminder of the funding for GN3 comes from participating countries, through NRENs (National Research and Education Networks). There are 32 NRENs involved in GN3 and GÉANT, and all are partners in the GN3 project. TERENA (based in Amsterdam) is also a project partner and provides a number of services such as outreach. A full description of all the GN3 partners is given on the GÉANT website.
Thanks to collaborations with other research networks across the globe – such as TIEN3 in the Asia-Pacific, and RedCLARA in Latin America - GÉANT allows European researchers to connect to research communities around the world. And this connectivity has been extended even further as a result of the AfricaConnect project, whose contract was signed just last week. This European Commission funded project will establish a high-capacity internet network for research and education in Southern and Eastern Africa, helping to foster research and education collaboration and advancement within and towards these regions.
Of course all this is the result of years of hard work on the part of many individuals, communities and organisations. But networking isn’t just about laying down cables - researchers demand more. The sessions here at TNC2011 have also covered privacy and authentication. One of the demos even streamed a 3D movie from Poznan, Poland onto a conference screen here in Prague. And, lets not forget that the networks established by GÉANT and its predecessors are the foundation on which grids are built. So while understanding the in-and outs of networking may take some time, it’s certainly time well spent.