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AARNet CEO Chris Hancock AM
23 April, 2016

CEO’s Report April 2016

2016 is off to a flying start with a number of network builds for shareholders, new and existing customers, including schools and GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), at various stages in the pipeline.

We’re continuing to collaborate with vendors and our global NREN partners to develop new service offerings and advance networking technologies to support the needs of teaching, learning and research into the future.

– Chris Hancock CEO AARNet



Zoom continues to grow strongly approaching 1 million call minutes per month with more than 20,000 participants across 5000 meetings in February. The number and size of customer licences has also grown to 32 organisations with 115,000 zoom user licences.

CloudStor use also continues to grow steadily with nearly 20,000 active accounts. Further effort is being put into developing CloudStor and its applications in support of research including working with international NRENs and CERN on a global cloud mesh for sharing data with international collaborators.

The European Commission and TEIN funded project to expand eduroam in the Asia Pacific region is progressing. AARNet, together with international partners from REANNZ, SingAREN and KISTI/KoREN ran a 2 day workshop at the APAN conference in Manila in January to train the National Roaming operators for the project’s beneficiary countries: Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. Servers to support the eduroam service in the beneficiary countries are being installed now and we expect completion of this project in June.


SDN Testbed

Work on the roll-out of the SDN Testbed, is in its final stages. Software Defined Networking (SDN) is an emerging new technology, focused on teasing apart the data forwarding function of a piece of network equipment from its path calculation function, taking advantage of commodity network hardware for the former and cheap virtualised compute for the latter. The aim is to provide greater network flexibility at a lower cost.

The Testbed consists of four network switches, in Sydney, Melbourne, Seattle and Perth. The official launch took place on December 14 2015 at an ONF (Open Networking Foundation) symposium in Sydney, of which AARNet was a sponsor. Five of the nine participating Universities (UNSW, Swinburne, Adelaide, UTS, Macquarie) and the CSIRO were connected for the event date, and peering was brought up across the Pacific with two international testbeds in the USA run by ESNet and Amlight to support a live multipoint video demonstration using Zoom. Connections to the last remaining participating institutions (RMIT, UQ, Wollongong and ANU) are now being completed.

A further ONF-supported outreach event was held in early April, focused on driving technical take-up of this technology and sponsored and supported by AARNet.

Science DMZ

AARNet’s development of a Science DMZ offering is progressing well, as part of broader focuses on data access and data movement in the eResearch environment. Science DMZ is a network architecture, originally developed by ESNet in the USA, aimed at accelerating the transfer of big datasets into and out of campus networks.

AARNet engineers are engaged with a number of shareholder institutions with the intention of implementing pilot deployments of this architecture. AARNet engineers have also implemented a pair of “sandbox” Science DMZ deployments connected to the AARNet backbone, simulating the connections deployed at RDSI Nodes, to enable testing and development. These have already proved invaluable in demonstrating peak data transfer performance to our users, and in troubleshooting performance issues at a number of customer sites.

A set of performance measurement appliances is also being developed and tested, based on the open-source PerfSonar software toolkit. This will provide institutions with the ability to identify and localise any performance issues relating to big data transfers.


Sunshine Backbone: Securing Research Capacity in Queensland, and NAUDIT Sydney Basin projects are progressing well and nearing final stages of completion.

Metro Ethernet is an emerging technology that sits between our core backbone network and the customer sites. Currently AARNet uses a series of passive technologies to link the two. In the next 6 months we are planning to install a new network layer based around high capacity low cost switches that will allow fast provisioning and dynamic failover protection. In addition, the technology will also enable us to provide more economical connections between datacentres and cloud providers. This will allow customers to initially provision low bandwidth services to cloud providers and increase the capacity as their needs grow.


The Enterprise Services team has secured and is currently delivering a number of assignments to assist AARNet shareholders and other customers. The level of Q1 activity has been stronger than the past 2 years as a result of past success and credibility and increased support from other business areas to generate opportunities.

Current focus of assignments includes:

  • The completion of an independent security review of Cloud services across nodes, to assess technology, process and people and risk appetite to ensure solutions proposed are relevant and likely to be implemented.
  • The completion of Cisco Unified Communications reviews with the broader use of personal and room based collaboration solutions to simplify and streamline interoperability across multiple platforms and give due consideration for the scheduling of rooms, technologies and local support for learning and teaching and research collaborations.
  • The completion of technical project management assistance in the implementation of an off-site backup data centre for a sector services provider
  • The completion of Network Blueprint reviews and designs for multiple campuses
  • The commencement of a unified communications review to determine service architecture, feature and function options for a “go to market” exercise to upgrade services.
  • Ongoing support to customers to assist with network troubleshooting, supplier design sanity checks and change management under pre-paid engineering hours services.

A managed network service concept for smaller universities and non-shareholders is at the design, scoping and feasibility stage as a possible solution for customers who need to outsource the management of network core and edge switches under an extended hours operating model.


The global security landscape has become the No.1 priority for most organisations across the globe. The immediate focus is shifting from perimeter based fortress solutions to borderless security where mobile devices may interact directly with cloud services where neither is on the physical campus. In addition to this, the internet of things (IoT) whilst innovative is also relatively immature in adopting security standards. Renewed focus is being taken on campus to test IoT device security and invest in awareness and training and the analysis of key digital assets as part of a variety of information security reviews. A project was carried out late 2015/early 2016 to understand the needs of Shareholder CIOs and determine how best to respond to these needs.

The result of this work was the emergence of some common themes from the feedback, including that security is the No. 1 concern of CIOs in relation to their risk management processes and their key deliverables for their respective institutions. It was recognised by all that AARNet is well placed to play a role in cyber security in the Australian Research and Education community. The AARNet Security strategy will be underpinned by ensuring the AARNet network is secure by undertaking independent penetration testing of the technical environment and commissioning security audits of systems and processes. In addition to this, AARNet is developing its Cyber Security resource to build internal security capability and to understand the external security environment.


On 2 November 2015, the government issued a second version of the exposure draft of the Telecoms Sector Security Reform (TSSR) legislation designed to ensure telecommunications carriers protect their infrastructure against both physical and cyber attacks. Again, AARNet contributed to a formal response produced by the Communications Alliance, where we particularly highlighted:

  • the onerous nature of the compliance requirements which will actually hamper the responsiveness of carriers to cyber threats, and
  • the potential for the compliance requirements to suppress innovative new services and functions (eg. the deployment of technology testbeds and proof of concept facilities).

The Telecoms industry awaits a further redrafting from the Commonwealth.

The Data Retention Industry Grants Programme was announced in early January 2016 to provide financial assistance to telecommunications service providers, such as AARNet, to assist them in meeting their data retention obligations. The program has $128.4M to allocate provided as single one off grants to all businesses that meet the programme’s eligibility criteria. However, given that this sum falls well short of the Government’s own estimates of industry’s total costs in complying with the data retention legislation, and the “shared pool” approach to how funding will be allocated, the Attorney General has indicated that it does not expect applicants to receive the total amount of their requests.

The Department has not indicated when the allocation of available funding to grants will be undertaken, or when grants will be made. AARNet is aware that a number of universities have also submitted applications for funding under this program. Irrespective of the funding, the internal project to ensure AARNet complies with its approved Data Retention Implementation Plan (DRIP) is progressing and will be complete well before our nominated deadline (30 June 2016).