TNC2014: call for student contest participation

ImagePost-graduate students working in appropriate fields are invited to submit proposals for this year’s student contest at the TERENA Networking Conference (TNC2014), which is sponsored by Cisco Systems and Internet Society. Submissions should be made in PDF format no later than 16 April 2014.

This is the sixth consecutive year of the contest, which has seen posters submitted and presented on a wide range of topics relevant to research and education networking. However, a new twist this year is that accepted poster presenters may also be selected to present their topic in one of the two ‘lightning talks’ sessions at TNC2014.

The TNC2014 poster and lightning talk contest gives students in emerging research areas the chance to gain exposure for their ideas and to gather feedback to further inform their efforts. Submissions will be evaluated on their relevance, importance and quality by a contest committee. Ten posters will be selected for presentation at TNC2014 with one author from each selected submission able to attend TNC2014 free of charge and potentially receiving financial support for travel. The best of these ten will go through for presentation as a lightning talk. The sponsors will award an additional prize to the author whose poster and talk are voted the best by TNC2014 attendees.

How to enter the contest

Submitted student posters (and lightning talks) may be about any topic relevant to TNC2014’s theme, ‘Networking with the world’, including ‘How to support big and open science’, ‘Connecting minds’, ‘Experimentation as a service’, ‘Shaping cloud services’, ‘Privacy and convenience’, ‘Security and resilience’, ‘Platforms, devices and mobility’, and ‘Managing identity in a linked world’.

Applications should include:

  • title of the poster (and lightning talk);
  • name, school, and contact information of the submitting author;
  • names, affiliations, and contact information of any additional authors;
  • name of the presenter (if different from the submitting author);
  • an extended abstract (max. 2 pages) describing the content of the poster.

A draft poster and talk may also be submitted to support the abstract. Judges may provide feedback on chosen materials.

Send an email with the subject: ‘TNC2014 student contest submission’ to

Further information

TNC posters present (technical) work achieved using graphs and images more than text, and take a less formal approach than a regular session presentation. Lightning talks are 5-minute presentations focusing on one key point, allowing you to present a project’s updates, get community feedback on an idea, share a quick tip or invite the community to collaborate.

The sponsorship of student poster presentations at TNC allows students to attend the event free of charge, giving them access to experts in a range of research networking fields.

More information about the Internet Society and Cisco Systems online.

Details of previous TNC student contest winners can be viewed at the TERENA Student Award Winners web page.

Follow @TERENAorg and #TNC14 on Twitter and further announcements here and on the TERENA Facebook pages.

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Submit TNC2014 lightning talks and posters – earliest get early-bird discount!

ImageFor anyone wanting to present their work in poster format or to share their ideas with the research and education networking community in a five-minute ‘lightning talk’, there is the chance to do so at this year’s TERENA Networking Conference, TNC2014. The conference will explore topics around the theme ‘Networking with the world’ and will be held in Dublin, Ireland, 19-22 May.

Proposals are invited until 16 April, but early submissions are advised so that presenters of posters and lightning talks may also benefit from the early-bird registration discount, which is available until 24 February.

Lightning talks

Lightning talks focus on one key point, allowing you to present a project’s updates, get community feedback on an idea, share a quick tip or invite the community to collaborate. To submit a five-minute lightning talk proposal, email including your biography, the proposed title and a short description of your talk.

Poster proposals

Posters should focus more on presenting work achieved, summarising with graphs and images more than text and taking a less formal approach than in a regular session presentation. Featuring a poster at TNC2014 will serve as an excellent advertisement for your work, and can act as a great conversation starter with other participants. Selected posters will be displayed in an area close to the parallel sessions and on the conference website. To submit a poster proposal, email with the subject ‘TNC2014 Poster’ and include the following information:

  • poster title;
  • name, affiliation, and contact information of the submitting author;
  • names, affiliations, and contact information of any additional authors;
  • name of the poster presenter (if different from the submitting author);
  • an extended abstract (max. 1 page) describing the content of the poster;
  • a draft poster may also be submitted to support the abstract.

Early-bird discount

The discounted fee for TNC2014 early-bird registration is €550. After 24 February it will still be possible to register online, until 9 May, with the full cost of €650. People whose lightning talks are accepted for presentation at TNC2014 will qualify for a speaker discount. The conference fee includes access to all conference sessions, materials and social events as well as lunches and coffee breaks.

Further information

All information regarding TNC2014 registration, lightning talk and poster submissions, conference topics and the full schedule of presentations can be found on the TNC2014 website.

TNC2014 will be hosted by HEAnet, Ireland’s national research and education networking organisation. The event will bring together decision makers, managers, networking professionals, collaboration specialists, and identity and access management experts from networking and research organisations, universities, and industry from around the world.

Follow @TERENAorg and #TNC14 on Twitter and further announcements here and on the TERENA Facebook pages.

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Karel Vietsch, TERENA Secretary General, receives royal honour


Karel Vietsch receiving the Dutch royal insignia. More photos are available at

TERENA’s Secretary General, Karel Vietsch, has been honoured with a royal decoration for his outstanding contribution to research and education networking and the Internet in general. Appointed an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, Karel was presented with the Dutch royal insignia by the Vice-Mayor and Alderman of Leiden, Mr. Robert Strijk, during a private ceremony on Monday 13 May.

Karel has continued to show his commitment to research and education networking during the past year, despite an illness that has caused him to be on leave since March 2012. During this time he still provided support and information to TERENA Secretariat staff and participated in some community meetings. Speaking on behalf of the staff, Acting Secretary General Valentino Cavalli said, “we owe a lot of what we are now to Karel and are thrilled that his important contribution to research and education networking has been recognised with this royal honour. We congratulate Karel whole-heartedly on this achievement.”

Please add your name and country of origin and / or message of congratulation below. We will pass these on to Karel.

An album of photos from the ceremony is available on TERENA’s Facebook page:

Keep reading for more information about Karel’s life and achievements:

Karel’s royal distinction was supported by friends and colleagues from various phases of his career.

Gerard Weel is a former colleague from the Dutch Ministry of Education and Sciences, where Karel worked from 1984 and headed the Department of Information and Infrastructure from 1992-1996. He said “the European research networking infrastructure, the expansion to East European countries, the intercontinental connectivity of European research and thus the node position of the Dutch SURFnet in my opinion to a considerable extent are due to the amiable, intelligent and tenacious commitment of Dr. Karel Vietsch.”

During his time at the Ministry, Karel was involved in the implementation of the research part of the government’s Computer Science Promotion Plan, which included the creation of SURFnet. He also represented the Netherlands in the Co-operation for Open Systems Interconnection Networking in Europe (COSINE) project’s Policy Group. Dr. Peter Tindemans, who chaired that group said, “he was exceptionally good at his place in the international game: tenacious, knowledgeable, accurate, amiable, easily making contacts whether with policy-makers, administrators or researchers and technical specialists.”

When Karel became TERENA Secretary General in 1996 “he stabilised the situation,” according to Kees Neggers, who headed SURFnet for many years and knew Karel since the 1980s. Formed from the fusion of RARE and EARN, TERENA was experiencing internal cultural differences that Karel soon smoothed. “This is where Karel made an indispensible contribution to the healthy development of networking in Europe and ensured that Amsterdam fulfilled a key role in the current Internet.”

Another early achievement at TERENA was Karel’s contribution to the blossoming of RIPE NCC, with his recognition that it should break away from TERENA and become an independent organisation. Daniel Karrenberg, one of RIPE’s founders and its Chief Scientist, said, “Karel contributed to it becoming a globally respected institution in the self-managed Internet. I am of the opinion that Karel’s contribution to the self-management of the Internet was crucial in its formative period. Without Karel the Internet in Europe would perhaps have been less successful.”

Dorte Olesen, former head of the Danish national research and education networking organisation UNI.C and former TERENA president agrees. “Making all European countries collaborate in research and education networking is a great achievement, and the fact that this has been accomplished is very much due to the dedication and extraordinarily hard work put in by Karel Vietsch.”

As a partner of the pan-European network project GÉANT, TERENA has been involved in a number of activities, including Karel’s leadership of Status and Trends, which delivered the influential foresight study, EARNEST. Karel was also an observer in the Board of Directors of DANTE, which manages GÉANT. Matthew Scott, Joint General Manager of DANTE, says: “Karel has played a significant and influential role and has been a very active member of the NREN Policy Committee and the Executive Committee. He has led TERENA’s participation over many years and has been a highly valued member of the Project Management Team. Karel is an exceptional individual, recognised across the community for his professionalism and dedication to research and education networking. I am extremely proud to be able to congratulate Karel in his achieving this very well deserved and prestigious award.”

Karel also played a role in international collaboration in research and education networking, fulfilling TERENA’s status of permanent observer in the ENPG (European Networking Policy Group) which was created in 1995 to succeed COSINE. He also participated in CCIRN (Co-ordinating Committee for Inter-continental Research).

Don Stikvoort, who worked closely with Karel over many years on TRANSITS security training, Trusted Introducer and TF-CSIRT said, “Karel played a distinctive and inspiring role in helping to set up Internet security in Europe, in cooperation with the rest of the world. Typically, he never felt himself too good for any task, and in this way he set a good example.”

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Internet Invariants – things worth fighting for

Leslie Daigle, Chief Internet Technology Officer of the Internet Society (ISOC) talked about the Society’s eight “” in the closing plenary session of TERENA’s Networking Conference 2012. The invariants are key features of the Internet that make it such a good platform for innovation and whose loss might harm the network’s ability to support unexpected developments in future. To stress how important this is, Leslie asked whether the originators of Twitter, Facebook or even the web would have been able to persuade bankers or venture capitalists to invest in their idea? The Internet as it was then, and mostly still is, meant they didn’t have to – they only needed to persuade users to adopt it.

At present discussion of the Internet’s uniqueness tends to focus on technical principles such as “end-to-end” or “smart edge/dumb middle”; this can result in policy makers and technologists debating which technology to choose to implement a policy (e.g. whether to block illegal websites using DNS or BGP), rather than whether the policy itself is a good idea. ISOC has consciously tried to move away from this into expressions of policy choices, whose consequences both policy makers and technologists should be able to appreciate and debate. The resulting invariants are summarised as Global reach and integrity; General purpose; Permissionless Innovation; Openness/Accessibility (to consume and contribute); Interoperability; Collaboration; Building Block Technologies; No Permanent Favourites.

As an example of how these can be used to discuss very high level policies Leslie gave the example of Governments’ frequent wish to apply physical geography (and jurisdiction) to the Internet. This can arise in both positive (enforcing our laws on our Internet) and negative (excluding others from enforcing their laws on our Internet) forms. A recent draft EU paper suggesting a “digital Schengen boundary”, which appears to have been sithdrawn when the consequences were realised, may have contained both! Considering the effect on the invariants suggests that this is simply the wrong way to think about the problem – applying national borders would constrain Permissionless innovation and Collaboration; remove Global Integrity; might, depending on the country, challenge Openness and create (local) Permanent Favourites. Although the resulting network might retain Interoperability, General Purpose and Building Block Technology at a technical level, in practice it would be a series of national islands, with communication between them possible but severely limited.

The invariants can also be used to discuss the importance of technical issues, such as the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses discussed by Geoff Huston earlier in the conference. The measures being adopted to maximise use of the few remaining addresses, rather than manage an orderly transition to IPv6, threaten Permissionless innovation, Interoperability, General Purpose and Global Reach, as well as declaring IPv4 to be a Permanent Favourite.

On a brighter note, the continuing history of publishing on the Internet shows what can be achieved so long as the invariants are protected. Gopher was replaced by the web, which enabled Google, amazon, Facebook and Twitter and now supports everything from revolution to knitting. All were developed at the edge of the network, not in the laboratories of network providers or large companies. Indeed now even those edge technologists may have lost control – the success or failure of a new Internet service now depends on the choice of millions of users. Which is a good thing: there never should be a master-plan for the Internet.

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TERENA Trusted Cloud Drive

TERENA’s trusted cloud drive pilot seems to have come up with a good approach to privacy concerns involved in storing information in cloud services. The design splits the storage of the data itself from the metadata about it: metadata (in particular encryption keys) can be kept on a host in a trusted location; the contents of the files to be stored are then strongly encrypted and stored elsewhere, for example on a commercial cloud storage service. Since the contents are strongly encrypted, and the storage system doesn’t have access to the keys needed to decrypt them, the storage system shouldn’t be able to affect the confidentiality of the content (though it can obviously affect its availability). Clearly this doesn’t work if you actually need to process information in the cloud, but for pure storage it looks like a good idea.

A paper by the Cloudlegal project seems to confirm that privacy law ought to recognise this protection, in particular by permitting the storage of the encrypted information outside the EEA. Unfortunately the current EU Data Protection Directive was passed in 1995, when geographical location seemed like a clear indication of privacy risk and other ways of mitigating that risk (such as encryption) were not envisaged. Different national regulators have since taken different views on the extent to which technology can be relied upon: in the UK the Information Commissioner allows data controllers to make their own assessments of the risk represented by exporting data from the EEA. He has also formally recognised encryption as a valuable security measure, so there seems a good chance that use of the TERENA model would be acceptable here. Unfortunately the wide range of views of different regulators and legislatures make it very unclear whether that would also be true across the rest of Europe. This feels like yet another test case for the proposed Data Protection Regulation.

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CIOs and Clouds

Jan-Martin Lowendahl from Gartner started by observing that the well-known Gartner hype cycle curve looks a lot like the equally well-known Hokusai “Great Wave” print! Consumerisation, free services, and the death of distance can indeed seem like a “tsunami of technology” to those trying to manage information services in education. People, rather than organisations, now seem to be in charge and the traditional role of CIO as a “central dispenser of resources” can appear less relevant. Instead the CIO can choose to be a Chief Information Officer, focussed on the organisation’s processes and working at board level, a Chief Integration Officer, focussed on the organisation’s information systems, or a Chief Infrastructure Officer, focussed on the organisation’s infrastructure. With surveys suggesting that 64% of Higher Education Institutions expect to have replaced more than half of their infrastructure by cloud within three years, and 49% expect to have more than half of their services there, the second and third options do not seem to have much long-term potential, even if Jan-Martin considers these expectations to be optimistic. Although these changes are often motivated by a desire to reduce costs, it seems better to view them as allowing organisations to concentrate on core services, reduced time-to-deliver and using best of breed services. Commonly cited reasons not to use cloud services include keeping competencies in-house, legal issues around privacy and intellectual property, and that there are no suitable services. These often indicate that an organisation’s systems are too complex and monolithic and that a separation into infrastructure, information systems and processes – each separated into components – may be needed. Identifying and using standard identifiers, formats and protocols helps this division into discrete components, and makes it more likely that individual components can be considered separately for either in-house provision or outsourcing. This comparison can also take place between potential suppliers, creating a market through which best value services should emerge. Components should be structured as a service catalogue (containing a few hundred services specified in terms that IT deliver them – including storage, compute and (inter)national networking services), supporting a service portfolio (about ten services specified in terms that vice-chancellors buy them); a portfolio of projects should then be used to steadily evolve both the service catalogue and service portfolio, rather than needing “big bang” changes. Standards are the key to achieving this comparability and flexibility.

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The network innovation continues

The 2012 TERENA Networking Conference is slowly winding down.  As always, it has been an exciting week among good friends.  One thing that has been of particular interest to me this week has been to observe that we continue to see real innovation being presented at the network layers, with several excellent presentations on a range of topics.

For a couple of years – not so long ago – it appeared to me that by an large the innovation (or at least the innovation presented at the TNC’s) had moved up the stack.  Yes, we continued to see increasing bandwidth, increased reach, more packets, but by and large we had years where that was mostly “more of the same” – in contrast to areas such as roaming, identity middleware, network control planes, etc. where we saw new ideas reworking the landscape.  I remember thinking that we should consider renaming the conference the TERENA Middleware Conference.

Not so this year. Not that the middleware, application, or user innovation, has slowed down.  We have seen great presentations on identity management, exploitation of cloud services,  integration of NREN and commercial services, etc.  However, we have equally seen exiting innovations and new ideas with the potential to reshape  the network (transport) landscape.

Of particular interest to me has been a number of presentations on virtualization and on technologies that support a network virtualization approach.  The standout talk for me was the talk Thursday morning by Wes Doonan of ADVA on virtual topologies, showing how far advanced virtualization ideas are in industrial research.  Other talks have presented on software-defined networks, demonstrating that approaches to virtualization are being taking at both the packet and the optical layers. There has been talks on software-defined optics, providing among other things the low-level underpinnings for some of these approaches, and there’s been talks on Network-as-a-Service, an approach to network service offerings that exploit network abstraction and network virtualization to provide application-level services based on complex, multi-level, multi-domain networks.  And there was continued presentations on Bandwidth-on-Demand technologies that also exploit network dynamism, including progress on the OGF NSI protocol framework and and interesting talk from ESnet on the use of OpenFlow technology to cover the last mile local access problem that so often seems to stump dynamic end-to-end network services.

Of course, the “Citius, Altius, Fortius” innovations continue, too.  Close to heart for me was the demonstration given by ADVA and friends on a 100 Gbps optical link on an undersea cable between Denmark and Iceland – a demonstration I’m proud to say build on a long-standing collaboration between Ciena, University of Amsterdam, SURFnet, and NORDUnet, and others, pushing the limits of what we can do with existing optical platforms, using among other things alien wave optical technology, and in this case showing the way toward 100 Gbps inter-continental services.

If you missed the lower-layer network innovations among all the upper-layer presentations, I encourage you to peruse the program on the TNC2012 website and use the excellent video streaming service to sample some of the talks.  For me, I will be looking forward to the evolution of the technologies presented and for more innovations presented at future TERENA conferences.

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