2022, what a year!
Whilst it will always be remembered as the year Russia invaded Ukraine, I would like to focus on how proud I am of how we as a community stepped up to support our colleagues in URAN, the NREN of Ukraine, and how URAN successfully kept their network running despite such horrible circumstances. Geopolitics entered our community in 2022 and I remain sad that our connections with Russian and Belarusian R&E suffered as we implemented the EU sanctions. In an ideal world, and as a research and education networking community, we would of course prefer that geopolitics plays no part and that all researchers and students in the world can at all times collaborate with one another. The reality is different, and we all hope for peace as soon as possible.
Highlighting again how close our community is, we had our first in-person TNC again after the pandemic and it was truly wonderful to see colleagues and friends again. For the first time we ran a CEO-track bringing together the CEOs of 60 R&E networks from all over the world, further strengthening the web of trust between us and discussing the most important issues we are jointly facing. In Trieste we also launched the next-generation GÉANT network, fully funded by the European Commission. This new network, based on fibre and spectrum, allows us to provide a future-proof and resilient infrastructure to existing R&E collaborations as well as to future programs such as EuroHPC and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
2022 was another successful year also for our Trust and Identity work: we successfully deployed six new services; InAcademia became self-sustaining in 2022 and saw a record 1000% increase in validations for users from the nine participating NRENs; and eduroam and eduGAIN continued to steadily grow with new NRENs participating and more user authentications – we reached 6.4 billion authentications for eduroam alone in 2022! Also, we are now a partner in a successful bid for the DC4EU project that will create pilots for the use of EIDASv2 and the European e-Identity Wallet for education and social security.
The OCRE project successfully finished, and the OCRE Framework services became available through the EOSC Future project in the EOSC Portal. Over 2021-2022 the yearly consumption rate within the OCRE Framework saw an increase of 45% on cloud services used by the R&E community. The OCRE Framework currently has over 800 R&E institutions as active users spread over 26 different countries, and still has a great growth potential for the coming years. In 2022 the OCRE Framework has been used to procure on behalf of 35 R&E Institutions, adopting the cloud funded by the European Commission. GÉANT has run 17 mini-competitions and multiple direct awarding procedures on behalf of these R&E institutions enabling them to consume approx. €10M worth of EC funding through the OCRE and EOSC Future projects.
At the end of 2022 we finished the GN4-3 project and started the GN5-IC1 project, the first project under our new FPA. The first round of the GÉANT Innovation Programme delivered a whole range of outcomes in early 2022 and proved impressive enough to continue with the programme in 2022 and to see again many new projects awarded.
Resourcing remained a challenge in 2022. There is still a huge shortage of talent and manpower that GÉANT is trying to cope with. Together with the NRENs we need to face this challenge to make sure we can deliver on our commitments and work is underway to address that.
Last year I expressed the hope that next year would be more positive for all of us. While 2022 was a positive year for so many reasons in the GÉANT community, I again express the hope that the near future brings peace for all our members and deeper collaboration for all of us.
The GÉANT Association is the collaboration of European NRENs (national research and education networks) delivering e-infrastructure and services to research and education. It comprises member NRENs and the GÉANT associates supported by the GÉANT organisation. The full list of Members, Associates & General Assembly representatives is available on the GÉANT website.
The GÉANT (GNx) projects are a fundamental element of the European e-infrastructure, providing users with unconstrained access to communication, computing, analysis, storage, applications, and other resources. In December 2022, the GN4-3 project ended, bringing to a close a 48-month GN4-3 Specific Grant Agreement that started in January 2019 and progressed through Periods 1, 2, and 3. GN4-3 itself succeeded GN4-2 and in turn GN4-1 – together forming a 68-month Framework Partnership Agreement that began in May 2015.
GN4-3 continued to provide excellence in networking services, enable integrated High-Performance Computing, and support open science, reinforcing Europe as a global research hub, whilst exploring the potential for new network services in areas such as Quantum Key Distribution and Data Plane Programming. The data demands of the research and education community are evolving faster than ever, and GÉANT’s flexible, agile, and long-term approach remains vital.
The GN4-FPA is succeeded by GN5-FPA, the 7-year strategic framework under Horizon Europe – the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation – with the 24-month GN5-1 project beginning January 2023 and its sister project GN5-IC1 (see below).
At the start of the year, a new Community website was launched collating all information about ongoing projects, working groups, upcoming Infoshares, events and call for proposals, in one place. The process for the GÉANT Community Award was also improved, making it more engaging and transparent. As a result, the number of nomination submissions received increased by more than 50%, helping ensure due recognition for its members and their outstanding contributions. In June, the GÉANT Community Award was awarded to two winners, Tryfon Chiotis from GÉANT and Paul Dekkers from SURF.
In February, ten new projects in the areas of e-health, multimedia, cloud, networks, trust & identity, and education were awarded a total of €300K within the third edition of the GÉANT Innovation Programme. The programme has once more proven to be a unique opportunity to enable initial development, establish a proof of concept, or test ideas coming from the Community.
Chair of the GÉANT Community Committee
Throughout 2022, GLAD continued to offer high quality learning programmes to meet the community’s needs. Face-to-face training was reintroduced in 2022 following the global pandemic, however most training took place virtually, as this enabled more people to attend. During the year GLAD ran 12 training programmes for 516 people from 38 NRENs. Development continued on GÉANT’s online learning platform, eAcademy, where new training modules were added in partnership with WP6 of the GN4-3 project: eight were on the theme of Network Automation, and the first module of a brand new training programme on Quantum Technologies was launched.
A record number of 18 students and young professionals were attracted to the Future Talent Programme (FTP) and given expert presentation training. Eight of these (another record) were awarded the opportunity to present their ideas at TNC22.
In 2022 and in coordination with the Partners Relations team, the GÉANT Community Programme organised 25 Infoshares – a series of online events aimed at engaging, improving knowledge sharing, fostering discussion, and strengthening the human network across the GÉANT Community. Although face to face events were back, Infoshares were still held online to enable worldwide participation and information sharing and saw the participation of 1,000 people in total.
Topics like Quantum Technologies, Quantum Key Distribution, In-Band Network Telemetry, eduMEET, Campus Network Management as a Service, and NIS2 Directive were among the most popular. Public and recorded Infoshares were then made available on GÉANT’s eAcademy platform, on the GLAD website and also via a dedicated playlist on the GEANTtv YouTube Channel. The publication of the recordings helped to increase the event reach, facilitated access to the content and its reuse, and provided more opportunities for engagement. On YouTube, the recordings collected over 1,500 views with a total watch time of over 160 hours.
of data carried per day
increase in network traffic
per second capacity
In any human interaction, who you are and whether you can be trusted are fundamental. In our online interactions, Trust & Identity (T&I) services have become just as important, underlying mobile work and study, and the ability to access information and services from a range of sources. During COVID-19 lock-downs, the ability to maintain connections and collaborations remotely was a huge benefit to R&E. As the constraints of COVID ease eduroam has once again shown its worth to the community. In total GÉANT’s T&I activities have in 2022 gone from strength to strength.
In 2022 the use of the eduroam WiFi roaming service increased by over 60% compared to 2021 as a result of the ending of most pandemic travel restrictions. eduroam registered a total of 6.4 billion national and international authentications, and NRENs around the world continue to expand access to eduroam in non-academic environments. For example, in Ireland, eduroam access was provided on Dublin bus services to support students, and in Edmonton, Canada, city-wide eduroam access was enabled.
The eduGAIN interfederation service grew to 78 federations (from 74 in 2021) and over 7800 entities by the end of 2022. During the year, the eduGAIN Team focused on reinforcing the operational aspects of eduGAIN, by organising a new signing key for the eduGAIN feed, being one of the core trust components of the service, creating a dedicated eduGAIN helpdesk, formalising the eduGAIN secretariat and establishing a security team, which started operating in 2020. With the aim of streamlining eduGAIN tools, a new reporting tool for federation operators was deployed as well as a tool for statistics. eduTEAMS enables members of the research and education community to create and manage virtual teams and securely access and share common resources and services using federated identities from eduGAIN and trusted Identity Providers. eduTEAMS is the GÉANT implementation of the AARC Blueprint architecture. Since 2019 eduTEAMS has evolved into a versatile platform to deliver AAI services based on the AARC Blueprint Architecture. Initially focusing on research collaborations, eduTEAMS was adopted by 12 Research Infrastructures (RIs) including 3 out 5 EOSC clusters, representing 10s of RIs. Today, eduTEAMS is being used in the context of the European Open Science Cloud and European Research Infrastructures, National Infrastructures, NRENs, High Performance Computing and the Erasmus Student Mobility programme.
MyAcademicID makes it possible for higher education students participating in the Erasmus+ programme to authenticate and access their Online Learning Agreement (OLA) and the Erasmus+ App in a safe and secure way. This identity and access management solution – now maintained and improved via the EDSSI project - plays a fundamental role in the digitalisation of the administrative processes related to student mobility programmes. The MyAcademicID service has been pivotal in the rollout and support of the European Student Identifier (ESI), particularly via the implementation of the so called “IdP of last resort” functionality. A solution aimed at assisting students in 20 EU countries coming from 400 Higher Education institutions that did not support federated authentication through the national academic federations.
Following the launch of InAcademia in February 2020, the service has grown significantly with over 2 million authentications processed. InAcademia leverages information from the higher education federation for identity, authentication and authorisation, eduGAIN, which provides an infrastructure used by thousands of institutions to enable their students and staff to authenticate with internal and external service providers. Validation is requested in real time, and the information is up-to-date as the affiliation of the user has been verified (by the academic institution). The service is now available in 12 countries across Europe and many are in the process of joining. There is now an established and growing revenue stream from services using InAcademia. It is intended that surplus income will be used to support GÉANT’s Trust & Identity services in the future.
The OCRE project came to a close in December 2022, delivering an outstanding impact on the European research and education community. Throughout the year, the project ran multiple open calls and mini-competitions, awarding funding for the consumption of Cloud and Earth Observation services to innovative research projects across several fields, from physics to e-health and archaeology. A series of case studies was published on the OCRE website to demonstrate how the funded projects benefited from using the framework. Winners of the OCRE funding calls were also interviewed to identify the needs of the research community and their experience with OCRE, and findings were published in a final policy brief summarising the challenges faced by researchers and the benefits of procurement via OCRE.
Finally, OCRE also worked with the GÉANT clouds team and with the EOSC Future project to expand access to the procured cloud services, by successfully integrating the service offering from all 26 participating cloud providers into the EOSC Marketplace.
Over the course of 2022, the GÉANT Clouds team widely focused on supporting and strengthening the NRENs’ national service delivery, competences, capabilities and on stimulating the adoption of services procured via the GÉANT 2020 Cloud Framework for NRENs and institutions. In order to do that, the team created and disseminated tools, guidelines, documentation and information bundles and operated an help desk for institutions and a business desk for suppliers.
The bi-weekly Forum with the community of NREN Cloud Service Delivery Managers continued throughout the year, accompanied by a high number of events and workshops, including regular SIG-CISS meetings, a Global Clouds forum involving NRENs all over the world and a new forum dedicated to Cloud Marcomms. Extended and regular collaboration with commercial suppliers also increased during the period, as well as with European Infrastructures and associations as EOSC and EUNIS.
eduMEET – the GÉANT open-source videoconferencing service – was further developed during 2022 also thanks to funding awarded via the GÉANT Innovation Programme, with the inclusion of new functionalities as drawOnMeet, which allows videoconference participants to draw on video stream, mingleMeet, an interactive and virtual meeting space where users can create groups, and VoDsync, allowing synchronous playback of high-quality videos. Additionally, the eduMEET team supported integration with PosEmo, a case study of non-verbal communication booster in web-conferencing. The service also expanded its user base, reaching adoption by 41 organisations in 19 countries, and was used during TNC22 for remote presentations of online speakers.
Following on from the release of the GÉANT Cloud Flow platform, the cloud offerings task focused on the release of the GÉANT Multi-Cloud platform, an open-source software package, enabling end users to provision cloud services from heterogeneous providers from a self-service portal. Both the GÉANT Cloud Flow and the GÉANT Multi-Cloud software packages were then made available in GitHub as open source software for public use.
Around 70 representatives from various European NRENs and their affiliated institutions took part in the two-day CLAW event. On day one participants joined the workshops ‘How to deal with the media’, ‘How to make a good crisis analysis’, and ‘Leadership in Crisis’. After the theory session, they were invited to give a crisis interview in front of the camera in a simulated press conference and subsequently received feedback from the trainer and fellow spokespeople.
On day 2 an extensive simulation exercise took place, where participants were given the task to deal with a perfectly organised cyber crisis. They were divided into several groups that formed Guilren’s (a fictional research network) crisis team, each team consisted of technical experts, communication specialists, a crisis coordinator, a CEO and an external observer.
The popularity of home-working and distance learning accelerated during the second year of the pandemic and the need for secure access to institutional services has been increasing across the community. GÉANT, together with support from RIPE NCC, the NLnet Foundation and the Vietsch Foundation continues to develop and support eduVPN.
The number of eduVPN instances grew considerably during the pandemic as people continue to work and study from home and need to access their university resources remotely.
19 regions now offer eduVPN services to provide secure, private internet access while working remotely and over 100 institutions offer dedicated institutional VPN gateways to allow access to secured services and resources.
2022 saw continued growth in the demand for security training in response to the increase in volume and severity of attacks. The GN4-3 Work Package on Security, WP8, worked to design and deliver courses for system and network administrators. The courses covered Operational Network Security and Vulnerability Management, were accessible to the entire GÉANT community, registered a high number of participants and received positive feedback across the board.
During 2022 WP8 expanded the ‘IT Forensics for System Administrators’, programme with further live online sessions open to all GN4-3 participants, NRENs and participating organisations, as well as to the wider CERT community. This programme reflects the importance of IT forensics when handling security incidents, an area in which administrators might not be sufficiently trained.
Due to the pandemic travel constraints, most original courses were restructured and redesigned to fit the online model and, to allow access to training material, all presentations have been made available for download without any restrictions. The downloadable content includes additional training and reference material for users interested in exploring the subjects further. In addition, all recorded sessions are available on YouTube.
The CSM22 campaign was created and coordinated by communications and security experts from Belnet, GÉANT, MARnet and SURF, under the auspices of WP8.
The campaign included a programme of webinars held by security experts from industry and the wider GÉANT community and featured something new: the collaboration with RedCLARA, the Latin American space for collaboration and development in education, science and innovation giving CSM22 a truly global dimension. This collaboration included the availability of live interpretation services in three languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese).
The campaign content was varied, informative and comprehensive, including articles, interviews, opinion pieces, tips and technical papers, and targeted a different audience group each week in October: decision makers, cybersecurity professionals, home workers, students and researchers.
Here’s the campaign in numbers: