1st SERENATE Workshop

European Commission
Private Area Restricted
Hosted by TERENA

Objectives of the 1st SERENATE Workshop

The workshop will start with a plenary session to introduce the subject matter. Presentations in this session will describe what networking facilities and services are currently available at the campus, national, European and intercontinental level, and which developments of these facilities and services may be expected in the near future. This will need to be confronted with the requirements of users in the research and education communities to obtain a vision on the future. The purpose and contents of the SERENATE studies and consultations will be described in more detail, as well as the objectives of the SERENATE Initial Workshop.
Workshop participants will then split up in five parallel discussion sessions that will look into the clusters of issues that are relevant for developing a vision on the future of European research and education networking:
  • Technical perspectives (LAN, WAN, switched circuits vs. QoS bandwidth, optical networking)
  • Economic, commercial and financial perspectives (including telecommunications regulations)
  • Needs of the research community (for all disciplines of science, technology and the humanities)
  • Needs of the education community (from Kindergarten to university education) and other user communities (libraries, museums, health care, etc.)
  • Geographic issues (the borders of Europe, the "digital divide" inside Europe, connectivity to other continents, organisational issues).
The issues arising from these sessions will be discussed further in parallel groups of mixed composition. The workshop will be rounded off by a plenary session in which the highlights from the discussions on the various aspects will be presented and the resulting inputs for the further SERENATE studies and consultations will be discussed.
The objective of the SERENATE Initial Workshop is to collect the views of all stakeholders into the SERENATE work, and very active participation by all workshop participants is therefore expected.

Why SERENATE and why now?
The SERENATE project has published a concise flyer that describes the background of the SERENATE studies and the timing, as well as the participating organisations and the further steps after the Initial Workshop.

What are the strategic issues?
The Initial Workshop is expected to define the strategic issues that will be addressed in the subsequent phases of the SERENATE studies.
The following items are only some samples of issues that might be discussed in the Workshop:
  • How can the European research and education networking community meet the managerial challenge that is posed by the need to move from a rather uniform "best-efforts" IP service to a multi-service networking environment in which different groups have different needs, and in which sufficiently high-quality service must be delivered to a seemingly infinite set of "end-to-end" routes crossing multiple organisational domains?
  • To what extent are the economic assumptions that have formed the basis of the present networking infrastructure and industry likely be subject to disruption on a short timescale? Important disruptive factors could include the very rapid development of fibre optics, and the small but growing number of research networks that are embracing "alternative" models, including direct "ownership" (or long-term lease) of the fibre infrastructure.
  • Someone has to pay for networking, but for the past 20 years there has been no direct financial feedback "at the point of use". Is this good or bad, and should we be looking to change the situation? Should (very) heavy users and disciplines pay more than casual users and disciplines?
  • Should very high bandwidth networking be concentrated at a limited number of centres of research excellence?
  • To what extent can and should European research and education networks become key elements of the infrastructure underpinning the European Research Area (ERA)? In discussions of the ERA, Commissioner Busquin has called attention to the importance of research infrastructures. There is a growing understanding of the role of computer networking as an essential infrastructure, and of the rapid and positive impact that it can have on general economic development and cohesion across Europe.
  • In various disciplines, what would be the consequence of having network speeds one or two orders of magnitude faster than is now available? Would completely new research areas develop, and on what time scale?
  • To what extent should, or should not, the national research and education networks be mandated to provide access for schools, libraries and healthcare institutions, in addition to the institutions of higher education that have been their traditional clients?
  • What is the proper geographical extent of "European" research and education networking? The traditional area of primary concern has centred on the EU and EEA member countries, plus some others. More recently, and specifically in GEANT, the EU accession states have become full participants in the process. What relationship would be desirable with the next set of "immediate neighbours", such as non-accession states in Eastern Europe, those in South-East Europe, and those bordering the Mediterranean? Can we create a model that can be seen as "federative", where countries and regions are responsible for the funding and implementation of their own networks, perhaps with financial and technical assistance from different sources, but where there are clear, and relatively seamless ways for then to obtain good performance for multiple end-to-end network services on a many-to-many basis?
  • All European research and education networks have to operate in a global context. Proper intercontinental connectivity is required not only with North America but also to all of the Americas, to Africa, to Asia and to the Pacific region. Are there any measures that could be proposed to improve the overall situation and the procedures for co-ordination within Europe?
  • How should the challenges posed to the research networking community in the eEurope 2001 and 2005 Action Plan be addressed? Two issues that need specific attention are the request of the Council of the European Communities that the European Commission study means of moving to much higher networking speeds (100 Gb/s and above) for the European research and education community (including schools and libraries), and the Council's concern for a reasonably uniform deployment of research and education networking in different regions of the European Union, in order to provide "equal opportunities" for the different geographical communities involved.
  • Do we expect national research and education networks to (continue to) have the deep technical knowledge of the advanced networking needed in each country rather than to act as simple purchasing agencies? If so, for how long?
  • Given the three-layer model (the campus, the national network and a European interconnect), how much "national diversity" is compatible with the strong user need for a coherent set of "end-to-end" services? The different local and national authorities must be free to make their own decisions concerning campus and national networking. But wildly differing approaches could make the provision of coherent cross-border services very problematic. Are there any sensible approaches to encouraging good "end-to-end" service across Europe while fully respecting the principle of subsidiarity?
  • How should the requirements for research networking be handled in the Sixth Framework Programme? [It should be noted that the European parliament, through its Standing Committee on Industry, Trade, Research and Energy, has started to take an interest in the evolution of the Internet. It has endorsed a report (the Harbour Report - named after its principal author, a British MEP) that makes several proposals in this area.]
  • One of the main goals of both the eEurope initiative and the European Research Area is to provide "equality of opportunity" for researchers and students in different countries across Europe.
    • To what extent is it appropriate that those in areas with much higher costs should have to pay somewhat higher charges?
    • Are there any realistic measures (i.e., ones not involving an open-ended financial commitment) that could be proposed to help alleviate existing discrepancies?
    • Which cost-sharing models for the pan-European interconnect are most appropriate for encouraging "equality of opportunity" for researchers in all countries?
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