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Internet2 turns 15. Has it delivered on its promise?

Julie Sartain, Network World | June 13, 2011
With nearly $100 million in new funding, Internet2, the faster, better Internet reserved for research and education, has embarked on an upgrade that will boost backbone capacity to a staggering 8.8Tbps and expand services to hundreds of thousands of libraries, schools and medical centers.

Wilson adds that Internet2 is more than just the network infrastructure. It provides its members with tools for network research, middleware used for provisioning network services, network performance, and security. Several of these tools like Shibboleth (identity and access management), perfSONAR (network performance measurement), and OSCARS (network provisioning) have been adopted by researchers worldwide and have helped address some of the most significant global advanced networking concerns and issues.

Gregg Kreizman, research director at Gartner, is impressed with the progress Internet2 has made with identity and federation. "I find Internet2's work in this area remarkable because of its technology, the resultant benefits of its use (particularly resource sharing and collaboration), the community, identity governance, and topic education."

He adds, "I point clients in all industries to Internet2/Shibboleth as a solid example of open-source federation technology they can use as an alternative to commercial offerings. With any new or evolving technology and with any large communities, there are pitfalls along the way, but I think Internet2/Shibboleth and InCommon (the federation developing a common framework for access control) have emerged as very positive influences for identity and access management."

Scott Crawford, managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates, describes Internet2's work as "pioneering." He says, "Shibboleth was one of the first practical implementations of identity federation."

And there's no shortage of Internet2 end users who sing the praises of the super-fast network for enabling applications like telemedicine and distance learning.

Dr. Dale C. Alverson, a professor of pediatrics and medical director at the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico, says, "We have used Internet2 for virtual reality simulations where participants enter the virtual world simultaneously in Perth, Australia, and Albuquerque to treat a virtual patient as a team. In addition, we have trained a resident in Hawaii with a standardized patient at UNM and evaluators commenting from different locations to provide monitoring and feedback.

Helen Smith, director of technology & media production at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y, adds, "We use Internet2 to bring other cultures into Rochester. For example, world music from Indonesia and Japan can be shared by performers in those countries, as can early music on authentic instruments from England and Germany, and near-simultaneous performances and new commissions involving Internet2 technology are possible."

Marla Davenport, director of learning and technology at an education technology consortium in Minnesota, says, "We have used Internet2 for many special student projects such as a collaborative concert with a school in Taiwan, projects on the West Nile Virus, NASA virtual field trips, iLab for science experiments, heart valve and knee replacement surgeries, and many more."


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