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4 July 2011
Interview with Pierre Bruyère, TERENA’s new President
Pierre Bruyère chairs his first TERENA Executive Committee meeting as President.

Pierre Bruyère (Belnet) is no stranger to the research and education networking community. With almost 30 years of experience in various related functions, it comes as no surprise that he was recently elected by the General Assembly as President of TERENA, succeeding Janne Kanner (CSC), who completed a two-year term.

Following his first TERENA Executive Committee (TEC) meeting on 30 June as President of TERENA, Pierre sat down to provide more insight into his professional experience and to explain his views about the association’s future goals.

Background

Pierre has held various functions in the field of research and telecommunications at the Belgian Science Policy Office, he was appointed Belgian delegate to various international organisations such as EUREKA, the European Union, the European Space Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and he has also been the director of Belnet, the Belgian national research and education networking organisation (NREN), since its beginning in 1993.

Pierre’s path in research networking started with a Master of Science in Engineering, which was complemented years later with a Master in Executive Management. Although his experience is broad, he is particularly proud of his role in leading the creation and development of Belnet. “In 1993, I started with three people, without really knowing where I was going. All I knew was that I had a mandate from the government to solve the communication problems of the research community in Belgium. Today, Belnet is an autonomous and mature organisation employing more than 50 very experienced and motivated professionals, with a satisfied customer base that rated our services well above average in multiple surveys.” Belnet provides services to 700,000 end users from the research community and nearly every public sector in Belgium. Pierre continues, “Our financial situation is very sound, so we can prepare for our future without fear.”

Vision of the future

Pierre sees many opportunities for NRENs in the future, but recognises the need for them to react rapidly and efficiently to their fast-changing environment. “Agility and openness are two key success factors for us.” NRENs need to take advantage of the qualities that made them successful 20 years ago and the experience they have gained in delivering services to a closed user group with common interests. “Being ‘community-centric’ and able to add more and more value on top of our infrastructure," explains Pierre, “is certainly another key element for success.”

Having been a member of the TEC as TERENA's Treasurer for the past year, Pierre has had the unique opportunity to get a closer look at the TERENA community from a different angle. In his view, there are two main challenges facing TERENA: the free services now offered to end users historically catered to by NRENs, and the significant financial pressures on NRENs which are forcing them to extract maximum value from the available resources. As TERENA President, Pierre hopes to address these challenges and ensure the association’s long-term sustainability by increasing the value of TERENA to its members, developing and strengthening its visibility and transparency, and enhancing its internal organisation.

“The main risk is basing our future evolution on dogma and projecting a defensive attitude,” says Pierre. However, he is confident that if we stay focused on progress, we will secure the association’s long term sustainability.

Further information

More information about the change of presidency and other outcomes of the May 2011 TERENA General Assembly meeting can be found in the news article: TERENA GA admits new members and discusses unique NREN initiatives.

Pierre Bruyère is the director of Belnet, the Belgian national research networking organisation that provides high-bandwidth Internet connection and services to Belgian universities, colleges, schools, research centres and government departments. The organisation operates a full optical fibre network with connections of 10 Gb/s and more, offering virtually unlimited bandwidth.

Belnet homepage: http://www.belnet.be/