I can see the future – and it is bright!

One of the best things about being new to any organization is that feeling of invigoration as you meet new people, learn new things and discover new challenges.

Since my arrival here on May 6, I’ve been getting to know our closely knit team of dedicated professionals, people who are justifiably proud of how the work they do benefits Canadians. I’ve also been getting to know you – our users, stakeholders and partners – as I’ve attended (and spoken at) several conferences over the past two months. Both groups are incredibly inspirational.

Although I have long been familiar with CANARIE (from my time at the University of Victoria and Carleton University), the learning curve has nevertheless been steep. I’ve learned more about how the CANARIE Network is used and the incredible support we’ve received from the Government of Canada over the years.

CANARIE’s immediate future involves ensuring that we continue to provide Canadian researchers, educators and innovators with the best digital tools. CANARIE is in the final year of its current five-year mandate. Along with the rest of CANARIE’s leadership team, I am working closely with Industry Canada in putting the final touches on our proposal for mandate renewal, which presents a strong case for the need for ongoing funding of CANARIE. This is vitally important if Canada is to continue to engage in world-leading science, research, innovation and discovery.

From where I sit, I see an exciting future for CANARIE – both the Network and the people who keep it going – and for innovation and research in Canada. I’m glad to be part of it.

Mark Roman
President and Chief Executive Officer

Speaking of Mandate Renewal ...

Mark Roman There was some concern in the blogosphere this month that CANARIE was winding down operations, based on some text in Government of Canada spending estimates for this year. We’re happy to note (with a tip of the hat to Mark Twain) that reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated! CANARIE receives funding in five-year blocks. This means our current five-year funding block expires in March 2012.

In our mandate renewal proposal to the Government of Canada, CANARIE recommends evolving Canada’s digital infrastructure in the three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on Canadian research, education and innovation:

  • Strengthen Canada’s existing digital infrastructure by increasing network bandwidth to meet projected traffic requirements; expand the network and connect more institutions and users; and provide core network funding support to our provincial and territorial network partners.
  • Address technology gaps that create barriers to Canadian research and innovation by developing a generic cloud-based research environment with a simple interface – a research “browser” that allows researchers to focus on their research, not technology.
  • Support Information and Communication Technology (ICT) research and commercialization by fully implementing the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program (find out what’s going on with the pilot of DAIR here). The DAIR Program provides a robust R&D environment for digital innovators and ICT researchers to develop, refine, validate and demonstrate innovative products, services and processes. Full implementation would include the participation of multinational corporations, a platform for the research community, and collaboration with other national testbeds.

As we continue to engage with the Government on mandate renewal we hope that we can count on your support, and we’ll provide more detail on how you can demonstrate your support later on this year.

CANARIE’s Annual General Meeting goes carbon-free

greenstarCANARIE held its Annual General Meeting on June 21. Thanks to the GreenStar Network, CANARIE conducted this meeting via a zero-carbon videoconference linking four sites across Canada.

CANARIE has shown remarkable leadership in this critical networking technology area and through our Green IT initiatives has helped Canada become a world leader in the rapidly emerging Green IT market.

The GreenStar Network is the world’s first Internet network where the nodes are powered entirely by “green,” renewable power. Through an alliance of Canada’s leading universities, IT companies, and international partners, the GreenStar Network enables data to be beamed across the network to wherever renewable sources are available; data is seamlessly transferred along the network to another operational node powered by renewable energy. This world-leading initiative supports the sustainable growth of the information and communications technology sector, the foundation of Canada’s digital economy.

The demonstration proved that we can run applications like video conferencing on a network that uses only renewable energy such as wind and solar power. This type of architecture can help to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the global Internet, which is the fastest growing carbon-emissions sector in the world today.

Video-conferencing software was deployed on a Virtual Machine (VM), and the VM was moved from one site to another across the CANARIE Network, depending upon where the renewable energy was most plentiful.

The use of the CANARIE-funded GreenStar Network for this advanced application clearly demonstrated proof of concept of this innovative new technology. This is the kind of high-tech innovation that could lead to the creation of a new world-leading Canadian industry!

As for the business of the meeting, we are pleased and honoured to note that the current Board members have all chosen to continue to sit on the CANARIE Board – a real testament to their commitment to CANARIE and their dedication to seeing us through mandate renewal.

And we are proud to announce two new Board members, Dr. Catherine Middleton, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Communication Technologies in the Information Society at Ryerson University, and Dr. Kimberly Matheson, Vice-President (Research and International) at Carleton University.

Many thanks to the GreenStar Network team for a flawless meeting! For more information about Canada’s GreenStar Network, the flagship project of CANARIE’s Green IT Program, visit www.greenstarnetwork.com.

Image: The Calgary-based GreenStar Network node is operated by Cybera and powered by eight solar panels located on the roof of the Alastair Ross Technology Centre.

A Boost for Canada’s Hi-Tech Sector

DAIRCANARIE’s Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) Program, launched earlier this year, has taken on its first users and is ready for more!

DAIR is a robust R&D environment that leverages the CANARIE Network to enable small and medium-sized hi-tech companies to develop, validate, and demonstrate innovative digital products and services. The intention is to provide a boost for Canada’s hi-tech sector by reducing the time and cost of bringing new products to market. Here are some of the latest facts about DAIR:

  • The first users were on the system in June.
  • A significant number of proposals are looking at testing how their product can scale to many users by using a cloud architecture, and examining failover and redundancy operations when their systems have a problem. Other proposals include user testing and customer demonstration platforms, central storage and processing development and social media infrastructure creation. Some proposals will use unique DAIR capabilities not found elsewhere, such as testing their product within large wi-fi networks like university campuses, and connecting central server computing with mobile devices.
  • Proposals are evenly distributed from across Canada.
  • Most proposals come from companies that have 1-9 employees, looking to use cloud computing to be able to match their requirements exactly and grow their capabilities quickly. For companies of this size, developing their own DAIR-type infrastructure would be cost-prohibitive and would take valuable time.
  • We’re still accepting proposals! The DAIR pilot runs until March 2012, so to submit your proposal, visit our website.

Visit the DAIR section of our website to find out more.

Interested? Attend a DAIR presentation!

Mark Wolff, CANARIE’s Senior Director, Technology Innovation, will be speaking about DAIR in early July.

Toronto, July 5 at OCAD University
Kitchener-Waterloo, July 5 at The HUB

Network-enabled Platform Project News

CANARIE’s Network-Enabled Platform (NEP) Program funds the development of tools and software that help researchers in a wide range of disciplines to fully exploit and share the massive amount of data that underpin today’s cutting-edge research. These projects allow scientists and researchers to easily access data, tools and expertise from across Canada and around the world, promoting adoption of innovative digital technologies and enabling Canada’s research communities to collaborate.

To see more of our NEP projects visit our website.

A “Google” for Brain Research Data

brainThe neuroscientific community will soon benefit from greatly expanded access to a huge range of research data, algorithms and computational power that has the potential to revolutionize global brain research. Canada’s CBRAIN, a CANARIE Network-Enabled Platforms project, is joining LONI in the United States and neuGRID in the EU to create outGRID, a global network of research platforms being funded by the 7th framework of the European Commission.

outGRID is a first step towards the development of a global scientific grid infrastructure for neuroscientists – essentially a “Google” for brain research data. Its goal is to foster and promote maximum possible interoperability among the three research platforms, and to create a unified and user-friendly environment where neuroscientists can access brain imaging data, use advanced algorithms to query the data, and apply computational power to address a wide range of research questions.

When the platforms are fully interoperable, a global community of researchers involved in unravelling the mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, and brain development will literally have a world of research data and sophisticated tools at their fingertips. As research has evolved into a global endeavour, outGRID represents the leading edge of global collaboration – and CANARIE’s CBRAIN project, led by researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute, is a central element.

More information on CBRAIN and outGRID may be found at: www.cbrain.mcgill.ca and www.outgrid.eu

What do trainee pilots and music students have in common?

Open Orchestra...they both soar using advanced training simulators.

For trainee pilots, sophisticated aircraft simulators closely mimic the experience of flying an aircraft. For young Canadian musicians, the CANARIE-funded Open Orchestra project gives young musicians and vocalists the very realistic experience of playing or singing with an orchestra.

In Open Orchestra, video recordings of orchestral and ensemble musical works are kept in an on-line database. Students will substitute for a member of the orchestra or ensemble and have their performance replace that of the selected musician or vocalist. The student will see the conductor and relevant parts of the orchestra on a panoramic video display just as the selected musician or vocalist would. The student will hear the orchestra with that performance removed, and their performance takes its place.

The experience is immersive and hugely instructive as students will be able to play back their own performance with the full orchestra, or by itself, or together with the selected performance that was removed. The instructor provides feedback by adding written comments and/or audio. Audio allows the student and/or instructor to play the instrument as well as speak. The instructor can also make use of previous recordings to track progress.

A demonstration of the Open Orchestra platform, led by Steve Bellamy and his team from Humber College, was a big hit at the CANARIE booth at the Canada 3.0 conference in May.

For more information, visit the Open Orchestra site.

More News

What's on the Calendar?

CANARIE will be participating in the following events over the next few months:

IPv6 Training – while our IPv6 training program is finished, the materials have been placed online so institutions that use our network can learn how to update their systems to become IPv6 compatible. To access the training sessions, complete the registration form. You’ll need to be connected to the CANARIE Network to access this training. Please specify IPv6 Training in the “comments” section. CANARIE’s TwikiMaster will authenticate your request prior to granting you access.

Square Kilometre Array 2011 Conference July 4-8, Banff, Alberta

Cybera Summit “Data for All: Opening up the Cloud” October 6-7, 2011, Banff, Alberta

RISQ Conference, October 25, Montreal, Quebec

When I Grow Up ...

Open OrchestraWhen you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

In our Annual Review this year, we thought about today’s young people and how the CANARIE Network supports their dreams and aspirations today, and tomorrow.

Science and technology innovation are among humanity’s greatest achievements. With CANARIE’s advanced digital infrastructure creating a web that links people, data and tools across Canada and around the world ... anything is possible.

Click here to read our Annual Review.

For a hard copy, please send an e-mail, including your name and mailing address, to info@canarie.ca.

Ah ... summer!


Wishing you all a happy, healthy and restful summer!


astrophysics made simple

Cartoon by Nick D Kim, strange-matter.net. Used by permission.