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MOREnetworking: Research April 20, 2006

Dear Member,

Every survey we’ve conducted with you, the members, has shown that you value the “research” we do. The “R” in MOREnet is there because we, as a consortium, value research.

What do we mean when we say “research?” We figure things out. How can we best do this new thing? How can we be more effective in delivering this service? Is this the best way to do this?

Starting with this newsletter, we at MOREnet are making a more focused effort to get the word out about the research we do. We’d also like to know what you are doing and what’s important to your organization so we can align our research and find more ways to work together. We will look for ways to ­facilitate the sharing of member knowledge with other members.

So we are going to try something new. We are going to begin a regular schedule of publishing our research plans and the results of our research. We’ll be getting this ­information out in several ways: the www.more.net website, e-mail and at conferences, to name a few. And we really want to hear about your research. For example, what are you researching locally? What would you be researching if you had more time? Are you looking for someone to partner with? How can MOREnet help? We are going to ask you directly at conferences, at Town Hall meetings and at site visits. We are going to make it easy for you to give us feedback electronically as well as in person.

Recent activity

The MOREnet team has been investigating several different technologies in the past few months that will continue through the remainder of the school year.

Network security has been and remains a critical component of any infrastructure. We have a pilot program currently underway at several schools and libraries to explore the feasibility of a managed firewall solution. Many MOREnet members have small staffs managing the information technology at their organizations. Finding time to investigate and implement new functionality can be challenging. The goal of this project is to discover the cost elements of a MOREnet-managed, member-hosted firewall. Two fundamental questions we hope to answer are what hardware technologies are best suited for a particular network size and how many sites can one security engineer manage.

The video group has begun to investigate new technologies that will provide members with more flexibility and integration with the MOREnet videoconferencing systems. The group plans to look at Macintosh videoconferencing client software and cell phone clients during the next quarter. As these technologies mature, ­members should be able to send and receive video content with a richer selection of end-points.

Several of members have expressed an interest in network appliances that provide multiple network services in a single device. We’ve been looking at a product that is capable of providing content filtering, bandwidth management, anti-virus, anti-spam, asset management and firewall services all in a single device. Additionally, the product has a very rich reporting capability. This project is expected to be completed during the late spring. We will post the results on the MOREnet website.

The future

We are beginning our annual cycle of strategic planning here at MOREnet. As part of that process, we update our plan with results of projects and activities from the past year and add in those items that have surfaced during the past year. From this high-level plan, we build an annual plan that helps us focus on ­activities for the upcoming year, including areas where we need to be doing research. In the coming year, we’ll be watching areas beyond technology. Many members are aware that we have served as a resource for issues like E-rate and CALEA, the Communication Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. We’ll always look for opportunities to share what we know with you.

In July, we’ll be publishing the anticipated research plan for fiscal year 2007 (FY07). It will include areas we expect to investigate, both technology and non-technology related, and justifications for what’s ­included.

Between now and then, we expect to be talking with you quite a lot. If you have ideas for areas of research that should be considered, we want to know. When we publish the research plan in July, we’d like your feedback. Please share your ideas, concerns or interests with me by phone at (573) 882-9730 or via e-mail to ben@more.net.

Ben Colley
Director, Strategic Technologies

hendersonl | Thursday, April 20, 2006 | |

 

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