Setting the standard: GlobalNOC seeks ISO certification April 21, 2015

APRIL 15, 2015

For nearly 17 years, Indiana University’s Global Research Network Operations Center (GlobalNOC) has helped to set a standard of excellence in the maintenance and operation of the world’s most advanced research and education networks. Now, its leaders are taking excellence to a whole new level by seeking International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 20,000 certification.

As the world’s largest developer of voluntary international standards, ISO sets standards for many industries, including manufacturing, healthcare and agriculture. These standards combine best practices, process and procedure to get predictable outputs from various inputs. Standards generally ensure consistency, safety and reliability. The GlobalNOC is seeking ISO 20,000, a standard for information technology service management, for its service desk, engineering and software development arms.

IU leaders expect to achieve the new certification by the end of 2016, and it’s their customers who will get the biggest return on investment.

“We are seeking ISO 20,000 to further demonstrate our commitment to operational excellence, continual improvement and dedication to providing best-of-breed network operation services to our customers,” said Brandon Beale, the GlobalNOC service desk manager who will shepherd IU through the ISO process. “Service delivery and the support processes around it will be standardized, certifying a predictable result. Most of the ISO 20,000 implementation will be transparent to our customer. What they’ll see is an even more efficient method of service delivery that reduces response time and errors, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.”

Happy customers are at the heart of everything the GlobalNOC does. Its 100 staff members provide the operations and engineering support to 23 international and national high-performance research and education networks, including Internet2, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Indiana’s own state network, I-Light. With individualized attention and innovative network support, GlobalNOC network engineers ensure the reliability, performance and advanced capabilities of every network.

Dave Jent, IU associate vice president for networks, has high hopes for ISO’s impact on the GlobalNOC. “I believe this certification will make our services and processes better while increasing the value we provide to our customers,” he said. “Being ISO certified is kind of like buying a box of cereal and reading all the ingredients on the side — you know exactly what you’re buying.”

Jent said this exactitude is vital when vying for military and federal government contracts, which are likely to require partners be ISO certified in the near future.

With 256 standardized tasks, from how to run a meeting and how to write a document to how to provide a service and run a process, ISO takes the guesswork out of the equation – it’s all by the book. GlobalNOC staff are currently identifying any gaps between their current procedures and ISO 20,000 requirements, closing those gaps and preparing for an external audit next year to ensure compliance with the requirements of the standard.

“ISO certification is truly continuous improvement,” said Jent. “We’ll be audited every two years, recertified every three years. By doing so, we strengthen our commitment to our customers and to remaining one of the world leaders in network operations and management.”

Merit added to list of 20 Best Michigan Websites March 26, 2015

Kaleidico, a digital marketing firm out of Detroit, added Merit to its list of 20 Best Michigan Websites.

The Ann Arbor-based Merit Network operates one of the longest-running computer networks in the country. The nonprofit also offers frequent courses and meetings, in addition to its network services, so a great deal of rotating content needs to be accessible to users. The News, Services, and Events blocks are a good design solution, helping different constituencies find what they’re looking for quickly.


100-Gigabit Upgrade for CENIC’s California Research & Education Network  March 17, 2015

The Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) announced the completion of a 100-Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) upgrade for the core backbone of the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), the 3,800-mile fiber-based advanced network currently serving the Golden State’s research and education communities, including the California K-12 System, California’s Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California, and many private universities including Caltech, Stanford, and USC, as well as a rapidly growing list of other institutions.

“As with many advanced networks, CalREN backbone traffic is in a constant state of accelerating growth, and we’re always heartened by this since it means that the network is doing the job it was designed to do: encourage innovation of all kinds,” says CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox. “This makes ongoing network upgrades like this absolutely critical to the continued health of California’s spirit of innovation.

“Not only that, but CENIC is in the process of reaching out to entire new segments of statewide education such as public libraries and arts and cultural institutions, which will spur even greater demands.”

Nearly 10,000 sites are connected to CalREN, and with this upgrade, the eleven million Californians who use CalREN every day will be able to create and engage in even more advanced and innovative teaching and learning methods as well as cutting-edge global research in a large and ever-increasing variety of network-dependent disciplines. In particular, California’s research universities, including the ten campuses of the University of California, the University of Southern California, the California Institute of Technology, and Stanford University, will be able to take advantage of 100-Gigabit connections from their campus research networks into CalREN.

“At Stanford, we have recently deployed 100-Gigabit capabilities for our own campus research data center,” states CENIC Board Chair and Associate Vice President of IT at Stanford University Bill Clebsch. “With the CENIC backbone upgrade, we now have an end-to-end high-speed path from our researchers to their partners elsewhere in California and beyond. CENIC’s new capabilities are absolutely necessary to enabling and accelerating the pace of discovery and innovation.”

“Frontier research is being driven today by Big Data, growing in scale at an enormous rate,” agrees Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership. “CENIC’s backbone upgrade to 100 Gbps is coming just in time to keep California in a leadership position.”

“The University of California is excited about the CalREN upgrade,” said Tom Andriola, Vice President and CIO of the University of California system. “It enhances our ability to do ground-breaking research and to keep California’s innovation economy vibrant for the coming decades.” He adds, “Today, networks are critical to the flow of knowledge, and a robust CENIC network means more Californians can access that knowledge and the whole connected world.”

“Our college system is harnessing the power of the Internet to offer more online courses and readily accessible academic planning services to increase success rates,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris. “These tools could not be offered without blazing fast Internet speeds, something that CENIC is committed to providing on behalf of our students.”

CalREN consists of three separate tiers, each optimized to serve a specific set of research and education needs: daily network use like e-mail and web browsing (CalREN-DC), high-performance research (CalREN-HPR), or network-based experimentation and development (CalREN-XD). The 100-Gigabit Layer 2 backbone has been installed to serve the first two tiers and the increasing demand being placed on them by researchers in data-intensive disciplines, ongoing connectivity upgrades for CENIC members, and connectivity for new members such as public libraries and arts and cultural institutions.