In this issue...

 

A Note from Jim

Jim GhadbaneAs most of you know, before I was appointed President of CANARIE, I was the Chief Technology Officer for almost four years. During that time I learned a tremendous amount about the history of CANARIE and its role in Canada's innovation ecosystem. While most people today know CANARIE as the operator of the national component of Canada's research and education network (and rightly so, as the network has become absolutely fundamental to research and education in Canada), what is less well-known is CANARIE's successful history as a change agent and spark for the adoption of transformative technologies. It's what CANARIE did when it incubated, and then spun off, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) and Grid Canada. It's what CANARIE did through its technology and application development programs, which supported over 200 projects in the private and public sectors. It's what CANARIE did when it launched the Network-Enabled Platforms program to address the gap in research software tools.

Today, CANARIE continues to incubate and evolve technologies that support the development of Canada's knowledge economy. In this issue you'll read about our Research Software program, which is changing the paradigm for research software development; the ongoing evolution of Canadian Access Federation (CAF), which supports secure and efficient remote access to digital services and resources; and DAIR, our cloud service supporting small business innovation.

As we move forward to address new opportunities, CANARIE will continue to work towards achieving the objectives of its articles of incorporation, written more than twenty years ago: "to contribute to Canadian competitiveness in all sectors of the economy, to wealth and job creation and to the quality of life of Canadians." I look forward to working with you to achieve these goals.

Jim Ghadbane
President and CEO


CANARIE's Strategic Plan Update

CANARIE has been working with Monitor Deloitte to engage stakeholders in a consultation process to inform the development of elements of its next mandate. During these consultations, stakeholders were asked to comment on CANARIE’s progress against its current objectives and to provide information on potential future directions for the organization. A summary of these consultations, together with additional stakeholder feedback from the 2013 CANARIE Users' Forum, and the Report of the Summit 2014 prepared by the Leadership Council for Digital Infrastructure, will be used by CANARIE to shape the elements of its next mandate.

The summary of these consultations can be found here. CANARIE welcomes additional feedback and input as it develops the elements of its mandate renewal in the coming months. Please send any additional feedback directly to feedback@canarie.ca


CANARIE Invests $4 Million in New Research Software Platforms & Changes the Paradigm of Software Development for Research

What is an NEP?
Network-Enabled Platforms (NEPs) are complete research software platforms, offering users a broad range of data and tools to conduct research within a specific domain.

CANARIE’s Research Software program funds two kinds of software: Network-Enabled Platforms (NEPs) and Research Platform Interfaces (RPIs). Over the past year, CANARIE awarded more than $4.3 Million in the first of two calls for proposals to Canadian research teams seeking to develop new NEPs that leverage CANARIE’s infrastructure. Read the press release here.

Developers of new NEPs will incorporate previously-created Research Platform Interface (RPIs) and add new RPIs to the suite, resulting in a powerful cycle of software development and reuse.

Changing the Paradigm of Research Software Development

What is an RPI?
Research Platform Interfaces (RPIs) are reusable software services that can be deployed in NEPs or in other software tools being developed by the research community.

CANARIE is changing the model for research software development. By fostering the collaborative use of common services (RPIs) across Network-Enabled Platforms (NEPs), CANARIE enables researchers access to an ever-increasing pool of services.

In turn, any new NEPs will make available to the community their own set of services that could be leveraged by other research teams.  This approach drives a first-mover advantage in research software for Canada, delivers system-wide efficiencies and maximizes investments in digital infrastructure. 

The current suite of RPIs includes services that enable:

What is first-mover advantage?
This is the advantage that a company has when it is the first to introduce a new product, service, or technology, and as such
does not have competition
from other companies.
Source: Cambridge Dictionary

  • Data storage and retrieval
  • Data visualization
  • Resource/cloud management
  • Sensor management/data acquisition
  • User management/authentication
  • Workflow/service scheduling

For a full list of RPIs currently available to the research community, visit http://science.canarie.ca
The 9 recently announced NEPs will leverage 12 existing RPIs and will contribute 21 more RPIs to the pool of available platforms, helping to address the gap in research software, reduce software duplication, and accelerate scientific discovery.


Strategic Investments Strengthen Value of Canadian Access Federation Identity Management Services

What services are available through CAF?
CAF offers two services:

  • eduroam, which supports easy access to campus wireless networks for visitors using their home institution’s credentials; and
  • Federated Single Sign-On, which grants users access to remote applications and resources based on verification of their credentials at their home institution.

The Canadian Access Federation (CAF) provides a trusted access management environment for the Canadian research and higher education community.  CAF participants enable their staff, students, and faculty to seamlessly access wireless networks and web-based resources using their home organization credentials when they are visiting other participating organizations.

CANARIE Invests in National eduroam Infrastructure

eduroam is an international roaming service for users in research and higher education. It provides researchers, faculty and students easy and secure network access when visiting other participating institutions using the same credentials as they would at their home institution or office.  In Canada, the eduroam service is deployed and managed by CANARIE.

To support the rapid growth of eduroam, which now exceeds 1.1 million registered users and more than 2 million sign-ons per month across Canada, CANARIE has added three new eduroam servers to its production network. These new servers went into operation this month.

The new servers increase the overall fault tolerance of the Canadian eduroam network. “Our continued investment in eduroam demonstrates CANARIE’s commitment to operational excellence”, states Mark Wolff, Chief Technology Officer.  Adds Wendy Petersen, Canadian Access Federation (CAF) Program Manager, “CANARIE recognizes the importance of eduroam to the Canadian research and education community and is embracing its role to support the maintenance and growth of the service.”

Two of the new eduroam servers are located in Ottawa and will operate as primary servers for Eastern Canada.  One of the legacy servers in Vancouver is reaching end-of-life and will be decommissioned. The other legacy server in Vancouver will remain active alongside a new production server located in Kelowna, BC.

The recent investment in the national core infrastructure of the Canadian Access Federation additionally helps participants improve CAF service at their sites by enabling:

  • A live map to display real-time "health" of the federation – including information on known and expected outages;
  • Monthly eduroam usage report for sites;
  • Auditing service to ensure policy compliance; and
  • Access to tools for eduroam testing and setup.       

Get Ready for a New Tool to Simplify CAF Deployment

What is an Identity Provider?

Within the CAF community, an Identity Provider is an institution (i.e. home university or college) that verifies an individual’s credentials.

CANARIE is rolling out the Identity Provider Installer (IDI) to make connecting to the Canadian Access Federation easier and faster for participating institutions. The IDI installs and configures the software needed on a client-provisioned virtual machine to connect an institution's identity management system to the CAF Federated Single Sign-On and/or eduroam services.

Canadian institutions will benefit from the simplicity of a web-based user interface for configuration while maintaining full control over the appliance hosted on their local infrastructure. The IDI will be pre-configured with CAF-related settings and with real-time monitoring.

New IDI

This approach is a direct response to feedback from members of Canada’s higher education community for a “plug-and-play” solution that enables them to take advantage of the cost and process efficiencies of CAF while working within a lean IT environment. As the power of CAF is multiplied and more institutions take advantage of the service, CANARIE is moving quickly to make this option broadly available.

The IDI is currently available for beta trials. Please contact Wendy Petersen for more information on the IDI and click here to learn more about CAF.

 

 

Service Provider Spotlight: Scholar's Portal

What is a Service Provider?

Within the CAF community, a Service Provider delivers services and content that are enabled through the Federated Single Sign-On process.

Scholar's Portal is a service of the Ontario Council of University Libraries. Founded in 2002, Scholars Portal provides a shared technology infrastructure and shared collections for all 21 university libraries in the province, serving 425,000 Ontario students.

Scholars Portal was an early Service Provider participant in CAF.  Its Geospatial service and eBook service are Federated Single Sign-On enabled and there are plans to add Federated Single Sign-On support for other services.  Using identity credentials provided to them by their respective institutions, students can log in securely and create personal accounts to store ebook annotations, data layers, and downloaded datasets.

More information on Scholars Portal may be found here.


DAIR Takes Small Business into the Cloud

What is DAIR?

DAIR provides free cloud-based compute, network and storage resources for entrepreneurs to develop, test, prototype and demonstrate next-generation products.

In 2013, CANARIE launched its Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR) program, which is delivered through CANARIE’s partners Cybera and Compute Canada. DAIR’s made-in-Canada cloud resources provide entrepreneurs with the time horizon, scalability and cost certainty that other cloud offerings do not.  Cloud technologies give small businesses a competitive edge by providing advanced computing resources anywhere, anytime.

Today, almost 150 entrepreneurs use DAIR to test, develop and demonstrate leading-edge products and services. One DAIR user, Khal Sharif, CEO of ProjectWhitecard Inc., is using DAIR to test Minecraft-based education games and new educational-themed platforms. See how here.

To get the word out on DAIR, CANARIE established partnerships with business incubators and accelerators, colleges’ applied research offices, the Association of University Research Parks Canada (AURP), and NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). These partnerships increase the visibility of DAIR to potential users and enable CANARIE’s partners to offer DAIR as part of an array of services supporting commercialization. Current partnerships include:

DAIR Cloud

Incubators and Accelerators

Colleges and Polytechnics

CANARIE welcomes partnerships with other post-secondary institutions, business incubators and accelerators, and other organizations supporting small businesses, to capitalize on the power of cloud computing. Please contact Peter Wilenius, Vice President, Business Development, to discuss an opportunity for partnership.

To submit an application to use DAIR, visit our website.


CANARIE Part of Team Building World's First Intercontinental 100 Gbps Link: A Powerful Demonstration of Global Collaboration

In early June 2013, six of the world’s leading research and education (R&E) networks – including CANARIE – and two commercial partners demonstrated for the first time a Transatlantic 100 gigabits-per-second (Gbps or one billion bits per second) transmission link for research and education between North America and Europe during the TERENA Networking Conference 2013 (TNC2013), held in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Connection

This link accelerates discovery in data-intensive science disciplines such as high-energy physics, radio astronomy and genomics, and spurs the development of revolutionary new networking applications and architectures.

This development comes more than ten years after the world’s advanced research and education networks upgraded to 10G technology.

As Dave Lambert, CEO of Internet2, the US research and education network and one of CANARIE’s partners in the 100G transatlantic project noted, “The world’s leading national research and education networks continue to push the envelope on advanced networking, in their ongoing mission to support research and education worldwide. I am happy that these partners and forward-looking organizations are willing to work together to explore the boundaries of what is technically possible and make a difference in research and education today and for many years to come.”

Read the official press release.


Collaboration Spotlight: Canadian Polar Data Network

Contributed by:
Chuck Humphrey, Research Data Management Services Coordinator
University of Alberta Libraries
chuck.humphrey@ualberta.ca

The digital nature of research data make it particularly vulnerable. UBC researcher Tim Vines reported in a 2013 study appearing in Current Biology7 that data management practices have resulted in the loss of the majority of data for 516 studies published between 1991 and 2011. In an interview, Dr. Vines noted that research data are often irreplaceable because of their uniqueness to a time and a place8. The CPDN research data management infrastructure was established to protect against such data loss. An IPY is conducted only every fifty years. The goal of the CPDN is to ensure availability of the most recent IPY data for today’s researchers but also for researchers affiliated with IPY’s far into the future. The partner organizations in the CPDN take this challenge very seriously.

The management of research data has become a popular topic as an increasing number of funding councils internationally have introduced requirements for data management plans and data sharing arrangements1. In the fall of 2013, Canada’s major federal research funding councils sponsored a joint consultation around Capitalizing on Big Data2. The background document for this inquiry spoke of the need for Canadian stakeholders to collaborate in the establishment of world-class centres specializing in data management. Among the stakeholders described in this report were CANARIE and the Canadian Polar Data Network (CPDN – pronounced as captain).

CPDN evolved out of research data management infrastructure established to manage and preserve data from Canadian-funded projects in the 2007-2012 International Polar Year (IPY). Through an RFP process, the Canadian International Polar Year Federal Program Office chose six organizations to serve as the IPY Data Assembly Centre Network3. Collectively, these Centres were responsible to work with funded researchers to deposit their data, to provide access and discovery tools, and to preserve these data for long-term access. When funding for the IPY and the Data Assembly Centres ended on March 31, 2012, five4 of these institutions made longer term commitments to this infrastructure, transforming it into CPDN and offering data management support to other research in the North5.

CPDN is a model of successful collaborative research data management infrastructure with partners in the federal government and academic sectors. The roles and responsibilities of the organizations in this Network are clearly defined in its Governance Charter6. The Canadian Cryospheric Information Network at the University of Waterloo maintains the Polar Data Catalogue, which provides an access and discovery platform for data entrusted with the Network. The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information of the National Research Council provides persistent digital object identifiers (digital data file equivalents to ISBN’s for books). Scholars Portal at the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta operate the CPDN preservation backbone based on the distributed preservation model. This system provides automated file replication and bit integrity checking across a secure CANARIE connection between the data centres of these two sites. In addition to these technical operations, CPDN provides services to produce high quality metadata and to prepare digital objects for preservation, critical to the future usability of the data it holds.


Events and Community News

Events

Internet 2 Global Summit | 6-10 April | Denver (CO)
Canada India Infrastructure Forum 2014 | 23 April | Toronto (ON)
Science and Tech Soiree | 24 April | Ottawa (ON)
Ontario Universities Computing Conference | 27-29 April | Windsor (ON)
BCNET | 29 April - 1 May | Vancouver (BC)
Digital Nova Scotia Summit
| 30 April | Halifax (NS)
AURP Canada Bi-Annual AGM and Meeting
| 13 -14 May | Fredericton (NB)
Association of Canadian Community Colleges Conference
(ACCC) | 25 - 27 May | Ottawa (ON)
CANHEIT | 1 - 4 June | Charlottetown (PEI)
HPCS | 25 - 27 June | Halifax (NS)


Footnotes:

  1. Data Management Plans are application requirements by the NSF and NIH in the U.S. and by the Research Councils U.K., a partnership of seven funding agencies in the U.K.
  2. http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/about-au_sujet/publications/digital_scholarship_consultation_e.pdf
  3. The six institutions constituting the IPY Data Assembly Centre Network were the University of Alberta Libraries, The Canadian Cryospheric Information Network at the University of Waterloo, Scholars Portal of the Ontario Council of University Libraries, Integrated Science Data Management of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information of the National Research Council, and Natural Resources Canada.
  4. Natural Resources Canada withdrew from the Network realizing that they could provide portal access to IPY data without being a member of the Network.
  5. CPDN is currently assisting with data access and preservation for the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment program, the Northern Contaminant Program, the Nunavut General Monitoring Program, and the Canadian High Arctic Research Station.
  6. See http://polardatanetwork.ca/wp-content/uploads/CPDN_Governance.pdf
  7. The Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age, Current Biology, Volume 24, Issue 1, 6 January 2014
  8. Joseph Stromberg, “The Vast Majority of Raw Data from Old Scientific Studies May Now Be Missing,” Smithsonianmag.com, December 19, 2013.

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