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Head for the Clouds – Marketing and Portfolio Management in the era of Cloud Services.

RENATER (French NREN) chose the historic “Ecole de Medicine” building at Montpellier University to host the SIG-MSP and SIG-Marcomms meetings in the beautiful city of Montpellier (France) earlier on this month.

The first day of the meeting was held jointly with SIG-Marcomms. A welcome speech by Jean François Guezou introduced RENATER (100 staff members and offices in Paris, Rennes, Montpellier and Grenoble) and announced the launch of the French NREN’s new strategic plan for 2020. The first topic ‘Services marketing within a wider strategic plan’ focussed on how service managers and marketing teams can work better together to ensure a good fit between needs and outputs, aligning strategic planning with company strategy. Discussions included aspects of relationship management, as well as the involvement of users in service development. Michel Wets’ presentation on “SURFnet cloud services delivery” focussed on the 4 core responsibilities of marketing: “discovering, organising, communicating and presenting evidence of value”.

Minna Lappalainen and Harri Kuusisto from CSC/Funet stressed the fundamental role of Funet’s services and branding in keeping Finland at the cutting edge of technology, especially with regards to ICT platforms, network and data centres.  Alice Thorel introduced RENATER’s new agile method in service development and referred to the challenges presented by the adoption of this approach across different departments. Agile marketing means “high-communication, low-documentation, rapid iteration process designed to provide more frequent, more relevant and highly measurable marketing”.

The panel discussion on service branding challenges and best practices was the second big theme of the day. We learnt about the struggle faced by some organisations concerning the continuous name changes, the different use of acronyms in local and international contexts and events etc. Content customisation is fundamental to get effective and clear messages across locally. Promotional service materials need to be in line with the NRENs (and their member institutions) culture and communications. NRENs use the GÉANT name mainly to indicate they are part of an international pan-European community and promote GÉANT as collaboration on services and products.

Day two kicked off with a round table discussion facilitated by Annabel Grant from GÉANT to create an overview of priorities and major developments planned by NRENs in their service portfolios for the coming years, with a summary of GÉANT’s mid-term plans. The focus areas for NREN service portfolios will be driven by cloud and procurement activities within the community with a focus on OCRE. The following emerging services were identified: centralisation of Learning Management Systems (LMS), Services for Campus Networking, eduVPN and Data Storage Solutions. The EAPconnect member NRENs were also represented at the meeting. They have been developing their eduroam service, supported by a community training event co-ordinated by LITNET, and are now turning their attention to eduGAIN and the range of federated services.

Talking about networks, Martin Bech illustrated the “Internet of Cows connectivity and services”, which is a service provided by DeiC to agricultural research on “quarantine island” reachable only by ferry! José María Fontanillo from RedIRIS discussed the use of HotSpot 2.0 for wireless rollouts in environments unwilling to use the “eduroam” SSID and their involvement in the European Blockchain Partnership.  Christos Kanelopoulous from GÉANT introduced the MSP members to the eduTEAMS group management suite to be made available in three flavours to cater for the different sizes of research infrastructures and their complex group management requirements.

Tracking the evolution of the eduVPN project from its development in the NREN community, continued support by external funders and the opportunity for this service to grow through deployment by GÉANT, its members NRENs and the wider regions were championed by Tangui Coulouarn from DeiC. Maria Ristkok, the new Work Package leader for the GÉANT GN4-3 Project cloud activity, introduced the LMS tender options and survey outcomes, the NREN cloud strategy discussions, the community clouds delivery plan, the global cloud collaboration and more. Lars Fischer from NORDUnet reminded all participants that the NREN community is primarily a network of people and in our quest to scale our services to wider and diverse audiences, we need to be mindful that there isn’t “one size that fits all”.

We left Montpellier inspired by new ideas for collaboration and look forward to the next SIG-MSP meeting, planned for March 2020.

All presentations can be found on the SIG-MSP agenda page.

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