Voice of the GÉANT Board
In a new series of Board member interviews, CONNECT spoke to newest member Andreas Dudler to understand his views on community needs, and what he hopes to bring to the Board.
Andreas Dudler has been Managing Director of SWITCH since May 2012. He is responsible for the deployment of technology and the operation of all SWITCH services. Even before being appointed Managing Director, Andreas Dudler has given SWITCH and the Swiss academic community many years of commitment alongside his main job. As Chairman of the Foundation Council from 1999 to 2011, he was instrumental in establishing and expanding the foundation and its Education and Research Network.
In addition to his work with SWITCH and GÉANT, Andreas also works with ROKJ - a private Swiss social programme helping children suffering from poverty and social exclusion develop to their full potential.
Andreas, welcome to GÉANT. How do you see R&E networking and in particular the roles of the NRENs evolving over the next 2-3 years?
Thank you, of course networking was the core driver of the development of NRENs and this is still very important and will remain very important for a long time to come. However other elements will, I feel, become much more high profile and significant to NRENs and their users. For example security. One big advantage the NRENs can offer is integrated security to their networks as they can more easily identify, manage and mitigate threats and there is some exciting work happening in GÉANT and the NRENs in this field. Perhaps the most visible change will be in the area of Trust and Identity. For most users the real need is not networking, it's collaboration – the ability to connect and share. For this identity management and access management are key.
In terms of other infrastructure and services, then the NRENs will be increasingly involved in procurement and also working more with the other European e-infrastructure projects (for example EUDAT, EGI and PRACE) and we will need to make the user experience of all of these services as seamless as possible and ensure that access to services has the same stability that is expected from the network. The NRENs have a long tradition of working together to support the community and I feel we will increasingly need to provide integrated support from GÉANT to the NRENs and from the NRENs to the customer.
What do you believe GÉANT can do to support this evolution and support the NRENs?
GÉANT can do a lot – the problem is identifying the priorities! From an NREN point of view, GÉANT is a powerful community we can contribute to and rely on – not only within the project but in delivering shared service. GÉANT can collect common requirements to help develop common platforms. It can also work with the NRENs to develop business development and marketing materials which can be adapted to the individual needs of the NREN – helping the NRENs not have to start from scratch.
GÉANT also has a 'political' role in overcoming the digital divide between the NRENs. No NREN is a leader in all the many fields of technology and service and each has strengths and weaknesses. GÉANT can help share knowledge and best practice to shorten the learning curve that NRENs face. It can also act as a community forum and meeting place to give NRENs a 'marketplace' to share services and skills.
From your experience in the community and within SWITCH what do you hope to bring to the GÉANT Board?
SWITCH is different from many other NRENs in that it is not subsidised from government for running services and so our universities pay the full cost of the services they use. This business model is different from many other NRENs. The community and GÉANT are, I feel, currently too dependent on EU money and we should try to find means of becoming more independent.
In the future our priorities and those of the EC may diverge and we may need to find a way to manage this gap. We need to learn how to 'sell' services to customers. I feel SWITCH's experience may help bring a more sustainable long term business model to GÉANT and the NRENs.
Do you have a personal message for the GÉANT community?
The GÉANT community has achieved lot and should be proud of those achievements. Nevertheless the world is changing and the way the Higher Education community operates is changing and so our community should be unafraid of change. We should accept that this will happen and have the self-confidence to accept this change and work together to embrace it.
Board of Directors