April news: From the Chief Executive - Thoughts from CEO's Forum

Chief Executive Nicole Ferguson discusses her thoughts from the CEO's Forum, sharing the key issues discussed such as security and end-to-end research

I’m proud that REANNZ has a chair at the International National Research and Education Network (NREN) CEO Forum. Around the table are CEs from leading NRENs including USA, China, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Netherlands as well as regional networks from the UK, Europe, Nordic Countries, Latin America and Southern & Eastern Africa.

It’s yet another example where New Zealand punches well above its weight on the world stage.

It means REANNZ, on behalf of New Zealand, can contribute to and influence the direction of global efforts and ensure our interests are represented, as the networks and services supporting research and education, continue to accelerate. These projects include the Global Network Architecture for Science; Identity & Access; Security; and Trans-National Education, to name a few.

And it means REANNZ is exposed to key issues and best practice at the national, regional and global level. This forum sponsors a series of global initiatives, all aimed at developing an interoperable global infrastructure and services tailored for research and education. Our participation in the Forum and supporting activity is funded by MBIE to ensure New Zealand’s participation, representation and advocacy for our interests.

Here’s some of the key issues we discussed at our recent forum:


This is a strong area of focus for the forum, for NRENs worldwide and their members. A co-ordinated NREN security response, where NRENs across the world collaborate together to both respond to and proactively identify and mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks is already underway.

REANNZ, together with Australia, Canada and Brazil, has designed the overarching NREN information security baseline, used by NRENs globally to ensure a common baseline of practice. We have also participated in a global threat response simulation, involving security personnel from 12 countries.

Ongoing work in this area includes common evaluation of possible tools, applications and security services – for example collaborating on DDoS mitigation tools.

All of this ensures that REANNZ is in a pivotal position to help shape the future activities of the security forum and the tools and frameworks it develops. REANNZ membership will benefit from global efforts in security and incident response.

Trans-national education and the rise of offshore education delivery

Today the UK is experiencing five-times more growth in offshore education enrolments, than international students arriving onshore. Many countries, including New Zealand, have a broad range of activity; from delivering domestic programmes in partnership with foreign institutions through to establishing campuses offshore for research or education purposes.

Led by the UK, the US and China, frameworks are being developed to enable institutions overseas to build a secure and high-quality connection back to their home base. Building quality connectivity in foreign markets can be challenging, due to political, competitive, technical or simply cultural differences.

The relationships that NRENs have with each other and their local markets, as well access to best-of-breed NREN connectivity, help make the process easier and cheaper by leveraging this global research and education platform to support the growth of trans-national education.

End-to-end Research

Globally, NRENs are increasingly being asked to undertake a broader range of research services relating to national data initiatives.

For example, JISC who provide digital solutions for UK education and research, are creating a Research Data Shared Service to support their members and government goals for research data management. 

Many other jurisdictions are looking at ways to ensure research services, from data collection, processing, interpretation and storage are integrated. This makes the conversation far easier for the researcher. This is a growing international trend as these efforts start to focus on the end-user and one that New Zealand is following closely.

Please contact me if you wish to discuss these issues further or to connect with one of our subject specialists.

Nicole Ferguson
Chief Executive, REANNZ

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