Spent today in London at the JANET stakeholder meeting. JANET provides our network, and we were discussing the SLA they have to provide services, interestingly not with the Universities who are ultimately their customers, but with JISC, who fund them.
It was a very interesting day, with a real consensus of how important JANET is. It was originally formed from a number of research networks with the intention of providing a high quality private network to support computational research. However, now it supports the whole business of the University sector, including teaching and learning and many critical business applications. As we change our sourcing model for services - moving more into the cloud, and using out-sourced and out-hosted services, our connection to the internet becomes even more critical.
We need very resilient services - which means two independently routed connections which some Universities still don't have, as well as sufficient bandwidth to handle data and applications being hosted off site. As one member put it - being off-net is not an option. The security of the network is also an issue, as potential threats are likely to get worse.
We are lucky in that JANET currently provides an excellent service in all respects, but as we move forward, especially into difficult financial times (which as I write this may just have got worse....), we need to be very clear on what services we need, and whether we are getting value for money. I suspect the next SLA will look much more like a service catalogue, with more focus on services and user satisfaction and less on monitoring.
A very productive meeting, and lots of very positive discussions - I'm proud that we have a network like JANET which is the envy of other countries, and it is important that we protect it.