Kent Engström wins 2015 Community Award for services to TCS
18 June 2015 | Porto, Portugal
Kent Engström (SUNET and Linköping University, Sweden) has received this year's research and education networking Community Award. Kent was honoured for his contributions to the Trusted Certificate Service (TCS – formerly known as TERENA Certificate Service), which helps to increase security in online transactions by facilitating the deployment of digital certificates. Kent had developed and maintained the 'Djangora' software that was a vital part of the service for around six years. The selection was made after open nominations and deliberation by a panel of judges. The prize was presented during the closing plenary session of this year's networking conference, TNC15, in Porto, Portugal.
The Award was presented on behalf of the judges by João Nuno Ferreira, who is a director of the TNC15 host organisation, FCT|FCCN. He said: "Kent was instrumental in putting together Djangora and the means for delivering thousands of certificates across Europe. This work was voluntary and that's an outstanding contribution."
The fact that Kent had done all this work without seeking the limelight was seen as a plus by the judges. "Picking out someone who's not well known who's doing something fabulous for the community is what these awards should do," said Joao.
About Kent Engström and Djangora
Kent Engström is a Systems Expert at the National Supercomputer Centre at Linköping University in Sweden and regularly works with SUNET, the Swedish national research and education network (NREN) organisation. Six years ago, when the TCS provider's web interface proved too complicated, Kent programmed 'Djangora' on top of the secure API and then maintained it with new versions. Djangora is credited as the essential piece of software that made scaling up delivery of server certificates and code-signing certificates possible, and with turning out more than 100,000 certificates.
One of the people who nominated Kent said: "Most system administrators in TCS member countries and virtually all central IT staff in institutes and universities have seen Djangora, worked with it, and used it to secure their services - probably without much thought as to why that software came to be, and why it continued to work through the many changes needed to maintain publicly trusted certificates."
Maria Häll, SUNET CEO said: "Kent has been and continues to be an invaluable asset to SUNET and to the European IT Security Community. During the establishment of the second TCS service, Kent quickly established himself as a hands-on leader who rolled up his sleeves and produced the tools that turned TCS into one of the most successful services in the history of European research and education networking. Kent truly walks the walk of common infrastructure and understands the value of delivering simple and effective services."
Patrick Norman, Director of the National Supercomputer Centre at Linköping University, said: "The supercomputing centre uses the research and education network infrastructure and services on a daily basis for its national, regional and global work. I am delighted that, through Kent and our collaboration with Sunet, we have helped to contribute something so useful back to the networking community."
With the advent of the new TCS service from 1 July 2015 Djangora will no longer be required. However, Kent has continued to dedicate his time and expertise to the new service too.
Alessandra Scicchitano, Project Development Officer at GÉANT explains: "Kent has participated actively in the transition phase, testing the main features of the new TCS, giving suggestions about new features and how to improve the service, on a voluntary basis. Through this transition, his work has been invaluable for me and for the entire community."
About the Community Awards
Since 2012, TNC has been the place where public recognition has been given to members of the research and education networking community for their contributions to the development of relevant technologies and services or to collaborative community activities. These awards were introduced by TERENA (now the Amsterdam office of GÉANT) and received sponsorship from the GÉANT Project (managed by GÉANT Cambridge office, formerly DANTE) for the first time in 2014. This sponsorship primarily covered administrative costs and allowed greater community say in the selection process by providing a judging procedure and a nomination system that invites nominations from and about people in Europe and other world regions.
TNC is the largest and most prestigious research networking conference, regularly attracting over 650 participants, including decision makers, networking specialists and managers from all major European NRENs, universities, sister institutions and industry. Through keynote speeches by renowned specialists and many other sessions, TNC presents an overview of the latest developments, both technical and in the areas of application and management.
TNC15 is organised by GÉANT and hosted by FCT|FCCN, Portugal's unit for the operation of the National Research and Education Network within the funding agency for science and research in Portugal. The conference is being held on 15-18 June 2015 in Porto. All information, including the full conference schedule can be found on the TNC15 website.
The 2015 panel of judges
In addition to João, the 2015 panel of judges were:
- Pierre Bruyère (Belnet) - Chair of the Board of Directors of GÉANT;
- Dorte Olesen (DTU) - Chair of the NREN PC;
- Klaas Wierenga (Cisco) - Chair of the TNC15 Programme Committee.