The third part of my blog series leaves the technology enablers such as the network connectivity and the access federation - covered in my previous blog posts - behind and focuses on the centralized business functions and legal vehicles that are needed to engage with and to provision public cloud services to the higher education and research sector more efficiently and effectively. These functions are often called as Cloud Brokerage Services at the national or regional levels.
Public sector organisations traditionally purchases goods and services via catalogues made available by government agencies ensuring that public procurement rules and regulations are followed. With the advent of the Internet, digital markets and the plethora of pubic cloud services, the legacy centralized mechanism of producing catalogues, making them available and up-to-date is proven to be difficult. This led to the situation often called “shadow IT” where basic digital infrastructure and services are purchased directly from technology vendors on an individual basis, bypassing the traditional central IT department functions, contracting mechanisms, and important legal check and balances in the process. This creates unnecessary risks for public institutions, such as universities, colleges or academic research labs.
Governments all around the world are calling for the modernization of the public purchase mechanisms and encouraging independent trusted players of the market (typically not-for-profits) to step up and offer functions that make the cloud adoption not only technically but also administratively and legally uniform and safe for public institutions, especially for higher education and research at the leading edge.
In 2011, top research universities in the United States got together under the umbrella of Internet2 and established the NET+ program in order to provide secure, agile and reliable cloud standards to university faculty, staff and students nationwide. Through the group negotiated Facilitation Agreement and a rigorous peer-driven evaluation process, research and education institutions and cloud service providers can work together to develop offerings that maximize deployment efficiencies and minimize the business and legal challenges, financial costs, and technology risks of migrating from on-campus to cloud-based solutions.
Oracle joined the Internet2 NET+ initiative, which functions as a service catalogue, via the partner Mythics on 18 September 2017. The provisional cloud services available in the catalogue are currently being peer-evaluated by multiple members such as Oregon State University before the full NET+ validation completes.
In Europe, GEANT - the European Association of National Research and Education Networks - took the lead on the cloud brokerage activities endorsed by the European Commission in 2014. This initiative expresses GEANT’s commitment to advancing efforts toward a European Digital Single Market and the European Open Science Cloud. National members of GEANT in many European countries have also established brokerages services cascading down cloud offerings to their connected institutions.
On 18 October 2019, Oracle officially joined the GEANT Cloud Catalogue with a specific Educational Quotation offer that enables all GEANT members and their connected R&E institutions to purchase cloud services with approved, validated and uniform terms and conditions across the continent.
Other world regions, such as Latin America and Australia, are also actively looking into establishing similar cloud brokerage mechanisms to their academic institutions that creates a concerted effort worldwide and a huge opportunity to provision Oracle's broad range of cloud services globally, in a coordinated manner. The further evolution and harmonization of these digital Cloud Brokerage Services are essential and Oracle is well-positioned to support those conversations with the leading organizations and influence their development.
Visit the Oracle Education and Research website.