Final Analysis of the TERENA General Assembly Survey

1. Introduction

In order for TERENA to plan how to deliver an enhanced service to members, it is necessary to accurately understand their needs and expectations. At the Edinburgh General Assembly meeting which took place in May 1997, it was agreed that TERENA should survey its membership to try and obtain a better understanding of the requirements and expectations of the National Research Networks with regards TERENA's technical activities.

An initial analysis was performed in late 1997 and distributed to the membership. This paper attempts to draw some conclusions from the study and make some recommendations based on its findings.

2. Summary Of Responses

All of the members that responded would be interested in a collaborative development programme co-ordinated by TERENA. This seems very encouraging as the responses cover a wide range of membership categories. In addition, all of the respondents would be happy to share the results of any of their own internal developments and many already place their findings and reports on the web with public access. TERENA might find a role in co-ordinating indexing of this material providing a single point of contact.

3. Specific Analysis

There were 17 responses from TERENA members. Since this amounts to 43% of the TERENA membership, it may be considered a representative sample. Of course, the results are dependant too on the quality of the information supplied and the diversity of the categories of membership represented since it is clear that there are issues which are common to those in similar categories. For this purpose, respondents were grouped into three broad categories:

Category TERENA Voting Classification No. Respondents

It is also therefore clear that the sample may be considered as representative of the complete spectrum of TERENA members.

3.1 Willingness to participate

Would your organisation be keen to participate in this sort of initiative if it included technical/service development projects of interest? (Such projects might include multimedia mail, video streaming and distribution, information indexing and caching, or other topics of common interest).

All of the respondees indicated a willingness to participate in a large concerted effort by TERENA to co-ordinate areas of specific interest. Of those a preferences expressed, it was for advanced or emerging network technologies. This result is certainly encouraging for TERENA and speaks for itself.

Conclusion: The only conclusion which can be drawn from this is that TERENA should continue and expand its efforts in this area.

3.2 Development Budget

What is the approximate annual budget your organisation has for network and service development?

Category Networking Development Budget
200k - 10M ECU
50k - 500k ECU
50k - 500k ECU

It is clear that in answering this question, some respondents included the cost of supplying their base services and some didn't; hence the wildly differing numbers in some categories. Assuming that the disporportionally large figures did indeed include the cost of basic network services, there is more of a correlation with larger networks (category 1) spending, in general, more an their smaller counterparts. However, it is interesting to note that the difference is not as great as might be expected. A further interesting analysis might be how the spending of each network has changed over a 5-year period or the proportion of their total spending spent on "new" services as a fraction of their total budget.

3.3 Future Service Development

What Technical / Service Development Projects do you consider important for the next 3-5 years?

Nearly all respondents cited the following as the more important services being important: security, multimedia / video-conferencing, infrastructure developments / network evolution (new technologies like ATM, IPv6, etc.). Others mentioned were caching / proxying, quality and traffic measurements.

3.4 Current Service Development

What Technical / Service Development Projects do you currently have underway and when are they scheduled to be completed?

Answers to this question were inconclusive but security, caching and wider deployment (e.g. to schools or other institutions) were all mentioned more than once.

3.5 Sponsorship

Do you use commercial sponsorship to fund/part fund your development programme at present? If so has this been successful or do you consider it inappropriate?

Very few respondents used sponsorship to part-fund their operations but a few had research collaboration with other, related bodies (e.g. the respective PTT). Of those that had such relationships, all determined them to be beneficial.

3.6 Developing Region

Do you consider your institution to be in a developing region in the sense of computer networking and communications?

11 of the respondents considered themselves to be developing regions but, as might be expected, none of these were from category 1 (the countries with higher GDP). Many of those developing countries would be willing to help TERENA in technology transfer-type workshops. When asked what extra services TERENA might provide, most requested technical knowledge, assistance and advice from TERENA technical staff. This appears to concur with the current high profile activities of TERENA staff in these regions through involvement in CEEnet and NATO workshops. Most of the networks which did not consider themselves to be developing appeared reticent about offering specific support and almost none of these countries would be prepared to offer additional financial support. However, in this context, and given the answers from the developing regions, the offer of technical advice / contacts with experts from a few of these countries is perhaps more relevant?

4. Conclusions

There are many millions of ECU earmarked per year for network development in the countries that responded. The range of funds allocated in particular countries ranges from zero (more than one case) to around 10 MECU. If the co-ordination of collaborative ventures is to succeed is then it will be essential to devise a model that provides not only equitable contribution, but also affordable costs for all involved.

The major concern of all developing countries is foremost (and understandably) to improve infrastructure and hence connectivity both nationally and internationally. Their secondary concerns are with information services and to some extent multi-media applications - video conferencing was particularly mentioned.

The developed countries focused on more advanced requirements such as gigabit networking, ATM technology, security, management, reporting techniques associated with improving efficiency - caching and indexing whilst less-developed countries appeared more focused on deployment of existing technologies.

The list of technical contact names and email addresses will form a valuable resource for TERENA allowing direct contact with those with responsible for technical management. It is probable that an email distribution list will be developed for keeping them informed and undertaking consultation.

The main observations of TERENA and the TERENA Technical Programme were :

It is therefore proposed that:

Annex I - TERENA Members

Voting (Contribution) Classification No. TERENA Members % TERENA income
7 (16)
6 (12)
5 (8)
4 (6)
3 (4)
2 (2)
1 (1)