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25 May 2006
Initial Workshop Kicks off the EARNEST Foresight Study

The initial workshop of EARNEST (Education and Research Networking Evolution Study) was held at the Dolce Berlin Müggelsee Hotel and Conference Centre on 23 and 24 May 2006, and was attended by 86 representatives of all stakeholders in research and education and networking in Europe: national government authorities and the European Commission, other funding bodies, National Research and Education Networks, management of universities, research institutes and educational institutions, equipment vendors and telecommunications providers, and, last but not least, the users of research and education networking facilities and services.

EARNEST can be seen as a successor to the earlier SERENATE foresight study. The SERENATE project (Study into European Research and Education Networking As Targeted by eEurope) was carried out in the period from May 2002 to December 2003. It was organised by TERENA and funded by the European Commission as an accompanying measure in the European Union's Fifth Framework Programme. SERENATE addressed  the strategic aspects of the development of research and education networking in Europe over the following 5-10 years, looking into the technical, organisational and financial aspects, the market conditions and the regulatory environment. Fifteen reports on the SERENATE study can be found on the publications page of the SERENATE website. Of particular interest is the Summary Report published in December 2003. 

The EARNEST study runs from 1 March 2006 until 31 August 2007. The activity is part of the GN2 (GÉANT2) project, which is co-funded by the European Commission as part of the Sixth Framework Programme. The foresight study will provide inputs for initiatives that could help to keep the evolution of European research networking at the forefront of worldwide developments and enhance the competitiveness of the European Research Area. It will prepare the ground for the planning of the development of research and education networking infrastructure and services after the completion of the GN2 project, at the local, national, European and intercontinental level.

The main objective of the Initial Workshop was to obtain input from the attendees concerning the issues that are considered important for the future of network services for research and education in Europe. One of the goals of the event was to look at the preliminary description of EARNEST and to add more detail to the issues mentioned, to add more aspects to the areas mentioned, or perhaps even to add new areas. Based on the results of the Initial Workshop, a work plan for the EARNEST study will be developed, which will be published in June 2006.

The workshop heard presentations from invited speakers on some of the issues to be addressed during the project. Wim Jansen (European Commission) outlined ‘What the European Commission Expects from EARNEST’ and Dai Davies (DANTE) and Karel Vietsch (TERENA) together summarised the ‘The SERENATE Recommendations and What Came of Them'. Vasilis Maglaris (Chair of the Policy Committee of the GN2 project) explained ‘The GN2 Project and Its Relation to EARNEST’.

Some user examples in the healthcare sector were presented by Niels Rossing (Health Telematics) and Martin Bech (UNI-C). Olaf Schjelderup (UNINETT) presented the Norwegian Gigacampus project.

On technical issues, Klaas Wierenga (SURFnet) outlined developments and challenges in the area of Authentication and Authorisation, and Gigi Karmous-Edwards (MCNC) discussed control plane issues. John Graham (UKLight) presented developments in transmission technologies and Simon Leinen (SWITCH) addressed end-to-end performance over research networks.

Giving some background of ongoing developments, Dai Davies (DANTE) told of ‘A Performance Enhancement Issue, Solved' and Lajos Bálint (HUNGARNET) explained the relationship between EARNEST and the e-Infrastructures Reflection Group (e-IRG).

In parallel sessions, workshop participants discussed the main issues to be addressed by EARNEST technology, campus issues, geographic issues, economic issues, researchers' requirements and the requirements of other users. After reports on those discussions, a set of four general questions was put to the participants and discussed by them in parallel sessions of groups of mixed composition.

Details of the presentations can be found at: http://www.terena.nl/activities/earnest/ws1/programme1.html . The findings of the parallel discussions on the issues and the conclusions of the workshop as well as a work plan for the way forward will be available in a TERENA feature coming soon. 

The EARNEST Panel consists of Dorte Olesen (TERENA President) – Chair, Karel Vietsch (TERENA) - Coordinator, Robin Arak (Archway Computer Associates Ltd), Patrick Bressler (European Science Foundation), Valentino Cavalli (TERENA), Dai Davies (DANTE), John Dyer (TERENA), Sabine Jaume-Rajaonia (Renater), Jean-Paul le Guigner (CRU), Kevin Meynell (TERENA), Martin Price (EUNIS) and Jorge Sanchez-Papaspiliou (Research and Innovation Center ATHENA). The panel is supported by Jim Buddin (TERENA), who is EARNEST's project management assistant and who also took care of the logistics arrangements for the Initial Workshop.

The EARNEST pages on the TERENA website have more information about the studies.  The findings of the Initial workshop, the presentations from the workshop as well as further conclusions, initial reports and the position papers prepared in advance of the event by members of the EARNEST Panel to inform participants will be published during the week of 29 May.