A Note from the President: Research, collaboration and innovation. Anytime.

Posted by: Jim Ghadbane, President & CEO

Research, collaboration and innovation. Anytime.

These five simple words that make up CANARIE’s vision statement create the beacon which guides our activities.

This vision represents a future state where the digital infrastructure, made up of network, compute, storage, and software, seamlessly converts data into knowledge to help us to solve a problem we face, or to pursue an idea that inspires us.

In real terms, imagine as a researcher, or as a developer, an idea strikes you: you want to determine if there is any correlation between two or more very large datasets.

  • Do you really care where the data is stored?
  • Do you really care which computer crunches the numbers?
  • Do you really care how fast the network needs to be to move the data?

If you’re like most, you don’t, you simply want the answer and you want it as quickly as possible. You also want the answer to be meaningful and easy for you to interpret, for example, through visualization.

In this future state, through the “magic” of world class digital infrastructure, the data will be moved to the appropriate computer system, the data will be crunched, and the resultant information will be presented onto the medium of your choosing, including handheld devices. This “thin client” approach is already in use today but our current systems require too much intervention: we need to identify the location of the data, we need to find a suitable computer to crunch it, we need to have the right visualizations tools, and on and on… In our vision, any additional human intervention will be reduced or eliminated.

The good news is that we have the key foundational elements in Canada that will enable us to reach our vision, but we need to deal with some big things. Recently, at the January 2014 Summit convened by the Leadership Council for Digital Infrastructure, three major items were identified as essential for Canada, and as we see it, essential for realizing our vision:

1)      A strategy for Data Management is needed. Too much data is lost, or it is very difficult to find.

2)      Better coordination among the organizations delivering digital infrastructure is needed.

3)      More sustainable funding for organizations in the digital infrastructure ecosystem is needed.

Ten months later, I’m happy to report there has been progress on these items. For example, CANARIE is providing funding to Research Data Canada (RDC) to address #1.

Given the scope of these items, progress will be challenging and sometimes difficult to perceive. We at CANARIE will continue to use this vision to address these items. Indeed, we have scoped our next mandate, which starts in April, 2015, to include activities that address these major items to the greatest extent we can.

However, we can’t do this alone! We are hoping you find our vision compelling, and recognize that to address these 3 items will require a concerted effort from all of us.  Only our combined effort will push Canada further into the digital age so that we remain competitive in the knowledge economy.