October 2007 Archives
Something strikes me as oddly interesting about the Internet2 Member Meeting. It is a bit of cognitive dissonance for me. I think it points to the core meaning of one of Kevin’s core themes: “Recognize and affirm that IT at Penn State is larger than ITS, and strengthen our relationships with campuses and colleges.” Let me explain.
When I talk to the people who are here from other schools, they are not exclusively, or even mostly “classical” IT people. Sure there are CIO’s here, but there are professors and researchers and administrators. Not even IT professors and researchers and administrators. They are from fields as diverse as art and music to psychology and medicine to mathematics, physics, and astronomy.
We have been accused of locking ourselves into silos. I will admit that I think of my job as IP data transport, and if that is not a silo, I do not know what is. On the other hand, I accept that IP data transport is only useful in that it somehow supports the mission of the university: teaching, research, service. That is all about the user.
If it’s all about the user — the professors, researchers, and administrators — why is it that when I come to these events, I only see other ITS employees from Penn State?
If “IT at Penn State is larger than ITS,” what good does it do for me to recognize that, if the people outside ITS — including IT staff, but also faculty, administrators, and students — do not share that recognition?
I suddenly see that core theme as simply a first step. Now that we recognize and affirm that IT at Penn State is larger than ITS, how do we take that next step. How do we strengthen relationships where none exist to begin with? How can I find the people at Penn State (outside ITS) who care about and would benefit from attendance or even presenting at an Internet2 meeting and how do I convince them that they do care and will benefit?
I’d be happy to hear your opinion in the comments to this entry.
My last session today was on Circuit Services. Many applications do not want to be bothered by (or bother) a routed network. “[P]rovisioning of 10G waves, provisioning of sub-rate circuits and access to the Dynamic Circuit Network and can be accessed and Layer 1 or Layer 2 depending on the service.”
This afternoon I attended the Internet2 Network Status Update. Steve Cotter of Internet2 gave “an overview of the Internet2 Network and the services Internet2 has deployed to meet the networking needs of the regionals, the campuses and their researchers.”
Internet2 Network Map (PDF).
In partnership with Ciena, Infinera, Level 3 Communications, Juniper Networks and the Internet2 NOC at Indiana University, Internet2 has completed the final transition steps in the roll out of the new Internet2 Network, and the shutdown of the Abilene backbone.
This morning I attended a panel session on extending ethernet with optical networking. The panel included experts from Force10 Networks (Debbie Montano and John D’Ambrosia), ADVA Optical Networking (Per B. Hansen), and OpVista (Pavan Voruganti). The purpose of the panel was to discuss “significant current technical characteristics and future evolution of combined Ethernet and wave-division-multiplexed (WDM) architectures with regard to capacity, reach, flexibility and reliability.”
This area is interesting to us here at Penn State because we use long range optics for the Ethernet connection between Altoona and University Park as well as our connection to Pittsburgh. A combined Ethernet/WDM architecture might allow us to combine Altoona’s existing link with a disaster recovery network on the same fiber. Increased resiliency might allow us to rely more on our DWDM circuit for high reliability traffic we currently transport on our leased circuit from Level 3 Communications.
They are talking about 40 Gbps transport. When will we see 100 Gbps? It seems like a question of economics and the adoption curve, as well as engineering. Currrently only innovators are deploying 40 Gbps. However, preformance curves indicate that applications and networks will need 100 Gbps Ethernet before it is available. John is from the IEEE 802.3 Higher Speed Study Group. He says not to look for incorporation of jumbo frames in the 40/100 Gbps Ethernet standard. Also, there will not be 40 Gbps over SMF — only MMF and copper — since they are targeting it for the data center, not metropolitan or wide area applications. SMF will use 100 Gbps. IEEE 802.3ba will deliver 40 and 100 Gbps as a single addendum.
Now I get to find out what Collaboration Tools and Identity Management is all about. The session seems fairly popular. They are bringing in more chairs because it is standing room only. Max is here, as well.
The issue at hand is that all of the collaboration application developers have embedded authentication into their application, so if you use more than one — drupal, movabletype, blogger, wordpress, twitter, flickr, del.icio.us, confluence, mediawiki, and so on — you end up needing to log in to each individually. It sounds like they think Grouper (groups) and Signet (privileges) are part of the answer.
There was a demonstration of a collaborative organization identity management service. It uses Grouper and Signet and works with Sympa, Confluence, Apache, dimdim, Asterisk, and Bedework. There was also a presentation showing the Australian Access Federation and their Meta Access Management System. There was a presentation on the Joint Information Systems Committee collaboative tools in the UK. Finally, a demonstration of the University of Alabama at Birmingham UABGrid.
The demonstrations ended with a rousing discussion on collaboration, identity, federation, trust, and application outsourcing. It sounds like they want to develop protocols (APIs?) for accessing applications like Shiboleth, rather than having developers write applications to use Shiboleth.
So far, I have personally accepted the pain of multiple identities as a fact of life. I am not sure I want some grand overarching central authority deciding what I can and cannot do, but from a student identity standpoint, I can see why this is attractive in the academic community.
I’m spending the week at the Fall 2007 Internet2 Member Meeting (October 8–11, 2007) at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego, California. This meeting is hosted by University of California, San Diego. I’m going to blog what I see so that you can benefit without having to attend, but you don’t get the T-shirt.
These meetings tend to be more geared to policy than technology. As such, there isn’t always something that cries out for my attention, so I started out with an introductory program called Internet2 Overview: Engagement, Network and Services. It was a panel session that covered Internet2 from a high level. This was nice because Internet2 has been moving from Abilene to a new architecture. This includes the Internet2 Network Commercial Peering (CP) service, of which the CIC is a member. It seems that Internet2 is trying to provide some of the services we have been able to get from NLR. The new network provides a Dynamic Circuit Network and they also have a wave service.
They also presented a nice overview of Shibboleth — reinforcing that it does not rely on Kerberos as the authentication system — and federated identity, including the InCommon Federation. These fall into the “middleware” layer of the network stack. Shown like this in the presentation:
For reference, my group tries to focus on protocols and networks.
The security portion of the presentation emphasized that their focus is on prevention, as well as detection. I hope we do this internally, as well. If you think about it, detection is reactive while prevention is proactive. I think that investing in reactive efforts is money wasted. I would much rather see us focusing on proactive efforts.
Scott Berkun wrote an excellent essay on why [some] software sucks (and what to do about it). I think some of his ideas apply equally well beyond the world of software development. I’ll pull out some bits that capture what I mean.
One way to think about how people respond to things is this spectrum:
- What is this for?
- I have that but haven’t tried it
- I’m annoyed by this, but I don’t need it often
- This Sucks
- This is acceptable
- This is cool / I love it
- This works so well I don’t even think about it
If you look deeper, you’ll find that when people say “this sucks” they mean one or more of the following:
- This doesn’t do what I need
- I can’t figure out how to do what I need
- This is unnecessarily frustrating and complex
- This breaks all the time
- It’s so ugly I want to vomit just so I have something prettier to look at
- It doesn’t map to my understanding of the universe
- I’m thinking about the tool, instead of my work
If we invert these feelings, we’ll find common responses people have to good [things].
- This satisfies my needs
- I can figure out how to do what I need
- This is smooth, seamless and fun
- This never fails
- It’s beautiful
- It is based on my understanding of the universe
- I think about the results I want, not the tools
Think about these things while you are reviewing your existing products and services or making new ones.--------