internet2+cloud servicesThe Internet2 research and education network will underlie a range of new cloud services targeting the research and academic community announced today. Level 3 Communications, CenturyLink’s Savvis unit, Dell, HP and Microsoft are among a dozen or so private sector companies partnering with Internet2 on the new service offerings.

Among other things, the new services aim to enable academics at different institutions to more easily collaborate with one another.

“To do that you need services that run on top of the network,” said incoming Internet2 Senior Vice President Shelton Waggener, on a conference call with reporters yesterday.

Internet2’s high-speed network now supports 100 Gbps communications and adding cloud services to it will “remove administrative costs and overhead and speed adoption of these services so students at any of our institutions can instantly collaborate with other institutions” Waggener  said. Waggener’s new role will be to oversee the Internet2 services, which will be known as NET+ Services.

A key partner supporting the collaboration capability is Box, which already offers a content sharing and collaboration service to commercial users. The company has developed a version of the offering that is customized for the university community.

Another important capability is InCommon, which Internet2 Interim Vice President Jerry Grochow described as a “federated authentication mechanism” that will allow authorized individuals to use credentials associated with their own university or research organization’s network to use NET+ service resources. InCommon was developed by several universities in conjunction with Internet2 and is now available through Duo Security.

Dell and Microsoft both will provide computing-as-a-service as part of the new NET+ offerings. Level 3 will partner with Aastra to provide a cloud-based voice service that will eliminate the need for a premises-based phone system.

While some NET+ offerings will be available to all participating universities and laboratories, others are in various types of trials with smaller numbers of universities. Savvis, for example, will support a proof-of-concept effort which, according to today’s announcement, is expected to lead to a cloud and managed service offering for Internet2 members later this year.

HP also is involved in a proof-of-concept project involving cloud infrastructure services. According to today’s announcement the goal is to determine how to “most effectively provision computer and storage cloud solutions through Internet2 NET+ services.”

Historically many new Internet technology developments that originated on academic and research networks have eventually moved to commercial networks and Waggener said he expects to see the same thing happen with some of the NET+ services.

“The next-generation network will have a greater impact on Internet services than the original Internet had on the conversion of those same products and services,” he said. “This next-generation network has capacity substantially faster than ever seen before, enabling things that make the world a very small place very quickly.”

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