NUANCE – October 2011

Promoting research and education networking agenda through strategic communication

Do our NRENs have the national visibility that can make their task easier?  It seems that this may not be the case!  Through an in-house study, UbuntuNet Alliance has discovered that many of its member NRENs do not appear to  prioritise  communication,  as such people within their countries do not really appreciate what the research and education networks should and could do.The finding shows that many NRENs do not make available information on how they operate or the benefits that the research and education networking bring to their users.

UbuntuNet Alliance believes in effective communication, since it is an essential component of organizational success whether it is at the interpersonal, intergroup, intragroup or  organizational levels. The Alliance has discovered that out of the 13 member NRENs, 9 have websites. Of these nine, only three maintain a website that reflects the full variety of what the NREN does.. The Alliance is therefore encouraging member NRENs to develop communication strategies and make sure that proper channels and tools are being used to reach out to their target audiences.  This would generate the wider awareness that is essential for their success.

A good example for the Alliance is what CLARA, the Latin American regional REN is doing.  CLARA has 17 member NRENs across Latin America and has a network of Public Relations officers within the 17 NRENs who coordinate their communications. The PR people are able to share information of what is happening within their network using their websites and other media.

Let us work together within the UbuntuNet community to raise the profile of our NRENs through planning and adopting proper and effective communication strategies, even when the NREN is still at an early stage as that maybe when it most needs the awareness raising!

Karibu Kenya! An Exciting Programme is lined up for UbuntuNet-Connect 2011 – and much, much more!

From humble beginnings less than five years ago, UbuntuNet-Connect, the annual conference of the UbuntuNet Alliance, has become a calendar event for academics and researchers in Africa and beyond.  UbuntuNet-Connect show-cases the development of research and education data networks in Africa and the exploitation of this e-infrastructure to support research and research collaboration. It is not so much the numbers (the highest to-date has been less than 100) but the quality of the people who participate, the enthusiasm, and the energy of the participants, pioneers and explorers who have for long fought to bring access equity to African research and education institutions.

Hosted by KENET, UbuntuNet-Connect 2011 is going to set new records, in terms of variety of presentations and participants, exciting location, sponsor support, and associated events.

Monday 21st will have the first administrative meeting of AfricaConnect, bringing together CEOs and Chief Technical Officers (CTOs) of NRENs of the Alliance, the West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN), representatives of participating NRENs from Europe, and the European Union.  AfricaConnect is an EU funded project that has focus on creating a regional research and education data network within the Alliance membership region.  This will be followed by two parallel events on Tuesday: one a meeting of CTOs to address technical needs, capacity, and readiness for AfricaConnect; and the other a meeting of the CEOs to discuss business models and regional collaboration.

In addition to meetings of the Executive Committee and Board of the Alliance Wednesday morning, the first open meeting of the week, the CHAIN workshop, is slated for Wednesday afternoon.  CHAIN is an acronym for Co-ordination and Harmonisation of Advanced e-Infrastructures. The CHAIN project aims to coordinate and leverage the efforts made over the past 6 years to extend the European e-Infrastructure (and particularly Grid) operational and organisational principles to a number of regions in the world, including the UbuntuNet Alliance region.  The Alliance is a member of the CHAIN consortium.  CHAIN uses their results with a vision of a harmonised and optimised interaction model for e-Infrastructure and specifically Grid interfaces between Europe and the rest of the world. The project will elaborate a strategy and define the instruments in order to ensure coordination and interoperation of the European Grid Infrastructure with those emerging in other regions of the world.  This workshop will be a bonanza to those active or interested in especially grid computing.

The main conference opens on Thursday 24th November.  KENET has been very successful in engaging government over the years, ensuring that we shall have the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Professor Margaret Kamar, opening the workshop.  Indeed some of the key players in the advancement of ICT in Kenya, including Dr Bitange Ndemo, well known in the ICT policy world, will be addressing the conference.  Visit for the detailed exciting programme.

And this is not all: Nairobi actually sits within the Masai Mara, and indeed the Masai herdsmen regard Nairobi as part of their lands – they have been known to drive their herds into the city greens for grazing in times of draught!  The point is that Nairobi is the only major city in the world where, literally within the city limits, the safari Mecca known as the Masai Mara, stretching into Tanzania, starts.  Those coming for just one week should as minimum visit the Nairobi Game park, which requires half a day.  It is however recommended that you plan to stay for at least one to two weeks to enjoy some of the world famous game safaris into Serengeti National Park, Northern Tanzania.  Or indeed to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, just across the border in Tanzania.
Finally, for those more inclined to evening and night life, the mouth-watering choice of restaurants and glitzy nightclubs await.  Karibu Kenya!

Africa-EU Strategic Partnership initiative open to universities in Africa

The African Higher Education system is undergoing a tremendous transformation process. This includes a number of national, regional and continental initiatives which are the Nyerere programme, the African higher Education Harmonisation and Quality Assurance programme, the Pan-African University and many others.

One initiative which links institutional, national, regional, continental and international endeavours is the African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning Project (Tuning Africa), which is part of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. This uses an internationally established methodology to enhance degree comparability, graduate mobility and employability.

Tuning is a collaborative, consultative process involving academics working in subject groups with employers and other stakeholders in curriculum development to enhance student competences. Tuning projects in higher education have been successfully completed in over sixty countries around the world. Tuning projects help to improve staff capacity, design and develop curricula, provide opportunities for generation of additional resources and to support effective and productive networking.

Tuning Africa will run over 18 months. There will be 5 subject areas open to all African degree-awarding higher education institutions but each led by a region as follows:

  • Medicine – Northern Africa
  • Teacher Education – Southern Africa
  • Agriculture – Western Africa
  • Mechanical Engineering – Central Africa
  • Construction Engineering – East Africa

A call has just been launched inviting universities across the continent to apply for this initiative. The deadline for applications is 24 November 2011 after which 60 universities will be selected to participate.

Full information on the call can be found at: or…

Knowledge without borders: Europe research networks in 2020

Today’s research is very different from that of 20 years ago. Location is becoming ever more irrelevant as scientists form collaborations and work on research across different labs, institutions and countries. Scientific collaborations today span Europe, Asia, North America and beyond are as likely to contact each other via email as face-to-face. And from their office they can access instruments on the other side of the world, simply by opening their laptops.

In Europe GÉANT is at the heart of this connectivity. Spanning 40 countries, connecting 40 million researchers and students at over 8,000 institutions, giving them the ability to work together and share data across borders. Its 50,000 km infrastructure, including an impressive 12,000 km of optical fiber, has helped to recreate ancient instruments, further medical research and explore our universe.

In the last few years GÉANT has seen an exponential increase in traffic over its cables, new interest from users in healthcare and the public sector, as well as massive demand from existing customers such as CERN.

GÉANT celebrated its 10th birthday last year, but how will the network look in another 10 years from now. Written by a group of independent experts, ‘Knowledge without Borders: GÉANT 2020’ hopes to answer this question. The report from the European Commission, released last week, outlines a vision for European research and education networks in 2020. Among its recommendations the report suggests that GÉANT can better support our future researchers by promoting a service culture, becoming more business orientated, providing better links to other continents and offering a space to innovate and test new ideas and technologies.

The report also states that high-end users, such as CERN and JIVE, cannot expect to rely on the general infrastructure to meet their demands.

To best support scientific activities, it also hold recommendations for the cost of data roaming to be cut, and for GÉANT 2020 to be much more involved in the wireless domain – including the recommendation to reserve some spectrum specially for the research community.

By building on the success of the GÉANT network so far, the report’s authors hope to build a European Research Area that is increasingly online.

GÉANT celebrated its 10th birthday last year, but how will the network look in another 10 years from now?


Photo Credit  ©  European Union

The Internet of things

On his blog post of 24th October 2011, David Glance writes: “In one vision of the future, every “thing” is connected to the internet. This “Internet of Things” will bring about revolutionary change in how we interact with our environment and, more importantly, how we live our lives. The idea of everything being connected to the internet is not new, but it is increasingly becoming a reality. The concept of the Internet of Things came into being in 2008 when the number of things connected to the internet was greater than the number of people who were connected.”

According to ‘The Internet of Things’ infographic released by Intel in September 2011, researchers have predicted that in 2020, there will be four billion people and 31 billion devices connected to the Internet

The IT giant has graphically shown the myriad devices connected to the Internet and milestones of Internet history. Highlights include the first Internet-connected computer in 1960, to the birth of the World Wide Web in the 90s and first connected games console  It includes BMW’s full in-car Internet and Apple’s iPAD.

While it does have a few interesting facts on its own, the point is to show the explosion in Internet-connected devices – from more than five billion internet-connected devices today and increasing exponentially.  A challenge to our developing NRENs and networks.

“The Internet may already be huge, but it’s about to get a lot bigger,” Intel wrote in their statement about the infographic.

Even though the personal computer (highlighted in blue in the infographic) still remains the most prominent device on the Internet at the moment, this may not be the case in the near future. Internet connectivity is now embedded into fitness equipment, factory robots, TVs and even vending machines.

The Internet of Things came into being in 2008 when the number of things connected to the internet was greater than the number of people who were connected.


More information:…

Sparkling community around open-source NOC tools

An open-source NOC Tool Workshop  was for the first time held in conjunction with the 4th meeting of TERENA’s Task Force on Network Operation Centres (TF-NOC) on the 11-12 October 2011 in Brussels, hosted by Belnet, the Belgian National Research Networking organisation. The workshop attracted more than 35 participants.

There, Belnet presented their developments in the Nagios monitoring tool plug-in, which gained significant interest among the workshop participants and led to an agreement to organise a Nagios plugfest session during the next TF-NOC meeting. Other NRENs, regional networks and campus NOCs also had the opportunity to present their custom-built open-source tools, which was welcomed by the workshop. A lively panel discussion which included software engineers and NOC operators concluded that open-source development is key, but just the beginning of the story. Not only open-source codes are needed, but also an open community needs to be created that can ensure the continuity of support for, and enhancements of, the tools.

During the event TF-NOC closed its first survey, which focused primarily on software tools, and agreed to put significant efforts into the analysis of the results, which will be made publically available. Motivated by the workshop discussions, participants agreed to create a script library on the TF-NOC wiki pages where useful scripts will be collected that can help day-to-day NOC operations. It was concluded that the wiki page should turn into an active source of information including descriptions of NOC best common practices that can be further discussed and refined.

The programme and presentations of the workshop and task force meeting can be found here.  Source:

TNC2012 Call for Papers

The Programme Committee for the TERENA Networking Conference 2012 (TNC2012) has issued a Call for Papers under the theme ‘Networking to Services’ to reflect that networking means much more than simply moving bits and bytes from place to place. The services deployed on top of the network are now more crucial than ever before, and social contact enables more effective international collaboration for both service providers and users.

The conference will be held from 21 – 24 May 2012 in Reykjavik, Iceland, organised by TERENA and hosted by the Icelandic National Research and Education Network (RHnet) and the University of Iceland.

TERENA invites those who are interested to submit their abstracts of 600 – 1200 words for the international TERENA Networking Conference 2012 (TNC2012). Papers can be submitted directly to the TNC2012 website: you will also find more detailed information about the Call for Papers topics.

The deadline for submission of papers is 30 November 2011 and authors should follow the guidelines for extended abstracts.


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