MCNC’s Mark Johnson joins FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Working Group

The Quilt, a national coalition of advanced U.S. regional networks for research and education (R&E), and MCNC, the non-profit owner and operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), today announced that MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson will represent the national R&E networking community on a new Working Group within the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).

In January, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of this new federal advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations for the commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The BDAC is intended to provide a means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations to enhance the FCC’s ability to carry out its responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

The FCC announced two BDAC Working Groups this week, and Chairman Pai appointed Johnson to serve as a member of the Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers Working Group, which is a 25-member group chaired by Robert DeBroux, Director of Public Policy and Federal Regulatory Affairs at TDS Telecom and full member of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. The other BDAC Working Group announced this week will focus on Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure. Another two BDAC Working Groups were announced earlier this month.

“I’m honored to represent The Quilt and MCNC with this appointment, and I look forward to working with my fellow group members to find ways to best deploy connectivity solutions and advanced broadband Internet into rural areas,” Johnson said. “I’m delighted that the R&E networking community will have a voice on this critical issue, and I look forward to getting to work.”

The full BDAC held its first public committee meeting on Friday, April 21.

The schedule for the new BDAC Working Groups has yet to be determined.

Johnson’s career encompasses 30 years of leadership experience in the management, engineering, and operations of Internet technologies. During his tenure at MCNC he has been responsible for operating a private microwave network and for a variety of fiber network technologies as a customer and constructor. North Carolina’s varied geography and mix of urban and rural communities means he has encountered all types of technical and regulatory obstacles in broadband technology deployment. And, Johnson has successfully worked with all types of entities in the broadband technology landscape to address these obstacles. He also is a founding board member of The Quilt, a former board chairman, and currently serves as its vice chair.

The Quilt offers guidance on NSF cyberinfrastructure future plans

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made cyberinfrastructure a central theme in its plans for developing and delivering tools to enhance scientific discovery.

This year, between January and April, the NSF sought input from the research community on science challenges and associated cyberinfrastructure needs over the next decade and beyond. The federal agency was looking for bold, forward-looking ideas to help advance the frontiers of science and engineering over the next decade and beyond (NSF CI 2030). This activity also recognized that researchers in varying disciplines may need different resources; may have differing priorities for access, interoperability, and continuity; and may require external expertise to address the most critical problems in their specific disciplines.

Please refer to Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) NSF 17-31 for full background information on this activity.

What is Cyberinfrastructure?

Cyberinfrastructure was first used by the NSF to describe research environments that support advanced data acquisition, data storage, data management, data integration, data mining, data visualization and other computing and information processing services distributed over high-speed networks beyond the scope of a single institution. It is classified as a technological and sociological solution to the problem of efficiently connecting laboratories, data, computers, and people to find that next great innovation or discovery.

In 2009, NSF undertook a community-informed analysis of cyberinfrastructure needs that led to the formulation of a vision, strategy, and set of initiatives entitled Cyberinfrastructure for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21). Since that analysis, many changes have taken place in terms of scientific challenges and opportunities as well as technological progress. To continue capitalizing on the potential provided by cyberinfrastructure to advance science and engineering research, the NSF is beginning to formulate an updated strategy in 2017 as well as concrete plans for future investments in this area.

The NSF Cyberinfrastructure Special Report offers more in-depth presentations on cyberinfrastructure.

The Quilt Contribution

The Quilt has provided a response to the NSF’s Request for Information on Future Needs for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure to Support Science and Engineering Research (NSF CI 2030).

Regional research and education (R&E) networks play a critical role in providing the underpinning fabric that makes possible local, regional, national, and global collaborations using advanced cyberinfrastructure. As a non-profit consortium representing 36 regional R&E networks nationwide, The Quilt has a collective mission to support all science and engineering fields and their research challenges.

Decades of success since the initial funding of regional networks by the NSF have taught us that the geography of resources is a significant factor in supporting research pursuits and scientific discoveries. In several of its current cyberinfrastructure programs, NSF has recognized that coordination of specific cyberinfrastructure activities are most effectively coordinated at the regional level by organizations that are frequently best positioned to foster and enable collaboration across a number of boundaries and serve to maximize NSF investments for the greatest good.

These networks provide scientific researchers with the network paths and bandwidth they need to move data as well as access remote and virtualized advanced cyberinfrastructure. The networks are engineered to support high-quality services that are consistent to researchers independent of the field of study, the number of users on the network, or the number of collaborators and collaboration sites. These organizations provide a sophisticated level of network services.

The Quilt believes the following advancements in the development, deployment, and utilization of advanced cyberinfrastructure will be a key part of an ongoing national strategy to address scientific and engineering research challenges. In the RFI submission, The Quilt outlines and describes six specific technical advancements in cyberinfrastructure that must be addressed …

  1. Keeping pace with network capacity demands
  2. Distributed, federated computing with shared resource
  3. Hybrid commercial/private cloud services for research
  4. End-to-end performance of research flows
  5. Cyberinfrastructure security
  6. Development and sustainability of a diverse cyberinfrastructure workforce

*Download and view the PDF of The Quilt’s full RFI response issued out of the NSF website.

Investing in Cyberpractioners

Preliminary investments in programs that support development of “cyberpractitioner” roles at the campus and regional levels has had meaningful impact for those researchers fortunate enough to have access to these individuals. Nationally, we are just now gaining insights into the benefits of cyberpractioners on the research process with their ability to bring to bear additional research resources and tools for scientific discovery.

The Quilt affirms that the next area of focus should be the scalability and sustainability of these roles within the country’s advanced cyberinfrastructure ecosystem by creating opportunity for longer-term career paths. This will encourage these specialized individuals to remain in their field of work as they mature in these positions while also encouraging a new set of professionals to enter in these roles in the future.

Next Steps

NSF has supported advanced computing since its beginning and continues to expand access to these resources. This access helps tens of thousands of researchers each year – from high-school students to Nobel Prize winners – expand the frontiers of science and engineering, regardless of whether their institutions are large or small, or where they are located geographically. By combining superfast and secure networks, cutting-edge parallel computing and analytics, advanced scientific instruments and critical datasets across the country, the NSF’s cyber-ecosystem lets researchers investigate questions that can’t otherwise be explored.

According to NSF, the contributions and ideas collected across the country last quarter will be used this year to inform NSF’s updated strategy and plans for advanced cyberinfrastructure investments.

All submissions made to NSF will be made available on the following website: http://www.nsfci2030.org.

(Image credit: Visualization of 3-D Cerebellar Cortex model generated by researchers Angus Silver and Padraig Gleeson from University College London. The NeuroScience Gateway was used for simulations.)

The Quilt recommends MCNC’s Mark Johnson to FCC advisory committee

The Quilt has nominated MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson to serve on the Federal Communication Commission’s new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) as a representative of the national research and education (R&E) networking community.

In January, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of this new federal advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations for the commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The BDAC is intended to provide a means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations, which will in turn enhance the FCC’s ability to carry out its responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

According to reports, approximately 380 nominations have been submitted for this committee with 17 seats available. The FCC intends to establish the BDAC for two years, with an expected starting date this spring.

The role of R&E networks in delivering advanced broadband Internet access for education, research and other community anchor institutions while also working to evolve the technology of the Internet itself provides an important perspective for the committee as it contemplates how to remove barriers to deployment.

The Quilt President and CEO Jen Leasure explained that because R&E networks like MCNC were established to meet the specialized needs of academic research in higher education institutions. The experience they have is particularly valuable for informing FCC policy for gigabit networks and beyond.

“Our country’s research and education networks and Mr. Johnson are well-positioned to contribute decades of leadership and experience in the deployment, management, engineering and operations of advanced Internet technologies at the local, state, regional and national levels,” wrote Jen Leasure in a letter of recommendation to Chairman Pai. “As independent, non-profit network builders and operators, R&E networks hold an invaluable role in this country’s broadband landscape that provides them with a unique perspective to contribute to discussions about removing barriers to broadband deployment.”

MCNC is a technology nonprofit that builds, owns and operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). MCNC has deployed fiber in 82 of 100 North Carolina counties and serves anchor institutions in all 100 counties on this vast, 2,600-mile network. MCNC also is committed to creating a market for dark fiber in the state to facilitate ubiquitous, gigabit residential broadband.

Johnson’s career encompasses 30 years of leadership experience in the management, engineering, and operations of Internet technologies. During his tenure at MCNC he has been responsible for operating a private microwave network and for a variety of fiber network technologies as a customer and constructor. North Carolina’s varied geography and mix of urban and rural communities means he has encountered all types of technical and regulatory obstacles in broadband technology deployment. And, Johnson has successfully worked with all types of entities in the broadband technology landscape to address these obstacles.

“The BDAC will be important in that it will advise the FCC on impediments to deploying advanced broadband Internet in rural areas,” said Johnson. “It’s important for MCNC and many of the country’s R&E networks because this is a strategic issue for us, and we want a voice in how those issues are framed. All of The Quilt members are pressing for better broadband to some degree, and it is also a critical issue for education so that everyone has access and connectivity.”

Johnson has received support from The Quilt as well as from many members of The Quilt who have written letters of recommendation. Internet2 has submitted a letter on his behalf and well as the North Carolina Wireless Research Center. N.C. Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland has endorsed his nomination as well as Internet pioneer Jane Patterson and Joanne Hovis from the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC).

Mark is a founding board member of The Quilt, is a former board chairman, currently serving as its vice chair.  Mark is also a founding board member of the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, a nonprofit, advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-capacity broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. If selected, he will represent the interests and missions of The Quilt research and education network community as a whole and is willing and available to serve a two-year term on the committee as well as participate as a member of any subcommittee(s).

Don’t miss VMware breakfast at Winter Member Meeting

If you are attending the The Quilt 2017 Winter Member Meeting in La Jolla, there will be a VMware-sponsored breakfast on Wednesday, Feb. 8 (7 to 8:15 a.m.) in the La Jolla Room at the La Jolla Shores Hotel.

Tim Boltz and Martin Gavin from Carahsoft will be there to answer any questions you may have regarding VMware or Carahsoft. We also will be discussing The Quilt’s exciting new VMware Convenice Pricing Program and the Carahsoft team will be doing an overview of:

  • Contract successes
  • Member savings and value
  • How can your members can gain access to this contract and all of its benefits
  • FAQs

Limited space is available. Please contact Jennifer Griffin to reserve a spot. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet the Carahsoft team so please consider participating!

Follow all conversations on social media during the Winter Member Meeting using #WMM17.

Quilt offers ESnet Science Engagement Workshop at #WMM17

The Quilt will be returning to the La Jolla Shores Hotel and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in California on Feb. 7-9 for its Winter Member meeting. Among the many exciting conversations and topics of interest that week will be the ESnet Science Engagement Workshop for Regional Networks on Thursday, Feb. 9 (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) inside the La Jolla Room at the La Jolla Shores Hotel (separate registration required).

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) provides network connectivity and services for DoE/SC Labs to communicate with science collaborators around the world. To support this mission, ESnet conducts regular reviews of network requirements to determine the current and future science communication and collaboration needs for numerous communities. The purpose of these reviews is to accurately characterize the near-term, medium-term and long-term network requirements of the science being performed. This approach brings about a network-centric understanding of the science process used by the researchers and scientists, without asking technical questions directly, and derives network requirements from that understanding.

The goal of this interactive workshop outlines a process that can be adopted by members of the R&E networking community to advance the mission of science engagement and fully realize the investments made in networking and personnel by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

Presenting Team

  • Jason Zurawski, Science Engagement Engineer, ESnet (lead)
  • Kevin Thompson, Program Director, National Science Foundation
  • Steve Diggs, Data Curation/Cyberinfrastructure, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Jennifer Schopf, Director of International Networking, Indiana University

Topics

The topics of this workshop focus on the intersection of research and technology, in particular the use of high-speed networks. Specifically, the purpose of science engagement; overview of an outline for a case study approach to gather scientific requirements (documentation, meeting preparation); and a live example of how to conduct an in-person review to characterize needs with a visiting scientific group. View the Draft Agenda.

Who Should Attend?

Regular participants in The Quilt and the cyberinfrastructure engineering community are encouraged to attend, participate, and help define a strategy to encourage growth of scientific understanding and support.

Limited space is available. Please contact Jennifer Griffin if you have any additional questions!

Follow all conversations on social media during the Winter Member Meeting using #WMM17.

The Quilt converges in SoCal to kick off 2017

The Quilt will be returning to the La Jolla Shores Hotel and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in California on Feb. 7-9 for its 2017 Winter Member Meeting.

Registration & Overview

If you have not yet registered, online registration is available. Click here.

Two hotel choices are offered – The La Jolla Shores Hotel and The La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. These properties are adjoining properties and are a short walk between one another. The main Quilt Member Program will be held in the La Sala room at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.

We are looking forward to the many exciting conversations and topics of interest this year. View the agenda. We also have provided time between sessions for working lunch meetings and other networking opportunities.

Highlights & Opportunities

  • Networking CEO Round Table – closed meeting (Tuesday, Feb. 7 – 8 a.m.)
  • Member Beach Event by Quilt CIS Program Authorized Providers (Tuesday, Feb. 7 – 5:30 p.m.)
  • VMware Hosted Informational Breakfast (Wednesday, Feb. 8 – 7 a.m.)
  • CENIC/Scripps Institute program at Calit2/UCSD (Wednesday, Feb. 8 – 2:30 p.m.)
  • Member Reception at Birch Aquarium hosted by CENIC (Wednesday, Feb. 8 – 5:30 p.m.)
  • NOAA N-Wave and RON Partner Breakfast (Thursday, Feb. 9 – 7 a.m.)
  • Trifecta – Combined Working Group Meeting (Thursday, Feb. 9 – 8 a.m.)
  • ESnet Science Engagement Workshop (Thursday, Feb. 9 – 9 a.m.) – *registration required

The Trifecta – Combined Working Group Meeting

During the Quilt Fall Member Meeting a couple of independent conversations happened around getting a few working groups in the same room since we all have a stake in each other’s best practices. We have scheduled that opportunity on Thursday, Feb. 9 from 8 a.m. to noon.

Three of The Quilt’s working groups: Financial Focus Group, Communications and Outreach, and Services, will be coming together to discuss areas of common and interdependent interest and tap into the wider group experience and expertise. This is an opportunity for members of these working groups and other Quilt member staff to exchange experiences and ideas on process, strategies, financial exercises, and key decision making approaches that can ultimately be developed and replicated within The Quilt R&E networking community.

Participants are encouraged to participate and help define a strategy that can be used to leverage programs and services across our community. Joe Sawasky, President and CEO of Merit Network, also will be presenting on the Merit Digital Collaboration Tool: Merit Commons.

Questions?

Please contact Jennifer Griffin if you have any questions at this year’s Winter Member Meeting.

Social Media

Follow all conversations on social media using #WMM17.

 

UEN, Quilt Members converge in Utah for SC16 Conference

Every November, thousands of researchers and industry representatives in high-performance computing and related fields, such as advanced networking, data storage, and data analysis, meet for the annual Supercomputing Conference (SC16) to learn about HPC and scientific applications and innovations from around the world.

This year’s conference, with the theme “HPC Matters,” took place Nov. 13-18 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This annual event previously was held in Salt Lake City in 2012.

Quilt Members once again were an integral part of the annual event through demonstrations, booths, presentations and building SCinet. Quilt members joined many from the international supercomputing community, essentially a gathering of scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, programmers, system administrators and developers that is unequaled in the world.

The internationally-recognized technical program included presentations, papers, informative tutorials, timely research posters and Birds-of-a-Feather sessions. A 515,000 square-foot exhibition hall featured the latest technologies and accomplishments from the world’s leading vendors, research organizations and universities, offering the first opportunity for attendees to learn about the technologies that will shape the future of large-scale technical computing and data-driven science.

The Salt Palace Convention Center during the event also turned into the home to the fastest, most innovative computer network in the world during SC16 conference.  SCinet, the high-performance, experimental network built specifically for the conference, offers an unprecedented amount of bandwidth within the conference exhibit hall and connecting the convention center to the broader Internet.

Partnering with Quilt Member Utah Education Network (UEN) and CenturyLink, SCinet provided more than 5 Tbps of internal network bandwidth, along with tens of 100 Gbps Ethernet circuits to bring 3.15 Tbps of Wide Area Network bandwidth to the convention center. UEN guided this collaboration with national and international research and education networks and commodity Internet providers. More than 12,000 conference exhibitors and attendees relied on SCinet during SC16.

Listen to the UEN podcast on how Corby Schmitz and Gyongyi Horvath prepare for SC16.

If you or others from Quilt Member Institutions attended SC16, we would like to hear from you and your experience for a future blog. Please contact us or Tweet us @TweetTheQuilt.

FMM logoWe will have an extraordinary line-up of speakers and guests scheduled to participate this year at our annual event. Building on the success of the 2015 events held in Austin, Texas, The Quilt, National Science Foundation’s Campus Cyberinfrastructure and Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure PI Workshop, and the ESnet Site Coordinators Committee once again will be co-locating their meetings with us this fall.

Our Fall Member Meeting agenda is shaping to be filled with exciting discussions and presentations.

We’re planning to begin our collocated program with the three groups by exploring the LIGO Gravitational Waves Detection and cyberinfrastructure support for LIGO with Peter Couvares of Syracure University followed by a panel discussion that focuses on the LIGO project, LIGO researchers and cyberinfrastructure required to support the research.

On Day 2, we’ll start with our opening plenary featuring Dr. Jim Kurose, assistant director of NSF computer and information science and engineering, followed by a panel discussion on national cybersecurity featuring CICI/CC* PIs, ESnet and other regional representatives discussing topics such as Science DMZ, medical research, and HIPAA compliance. Then we’ll converse on ways to help bridge the gaps in science engagement along with several other panel discussions throughout the day including statewide data transfer initiatives, integration of vertical member segments in a statewide/regional community, and a summary of the workshop report on the Role of the Regional in Improving Access to Computational Infrastructure. On Friday, we’ll continue with the topic of cybersecurity among others.

The agenda will continue to be updated here leading up to the event.

Thanks again to Quilt member KINBER for inviting us to Philadelphia for this year’s meeting.

You can follow the conversation now and throughout the meeting using #FMM16 or @TweettheQuilt.

We look forward to seeing you in October!