Idaho’s Education System Ramps Up High Speed Connectivity

Boise– Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed legislation (S 1344) supporting increased bandwidth for the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON).  Idaho’s high speed, fiber optic backbone serves the state’s unique education, research, health care, and government needs.  The IRON network will be upgraded to 100 gigabits per second statewide, allowing for enhanced data exchange and educational opportunities, and direct interaction between the state’s colleges and universities, health care facilities, Idaho National Laboratory and government agencies.

“Our state’s four-year higher education institutions and community colleges, as well as their students are the greatest beneficiaries of IRON, so it makes sense for the higher education budget to include support for the increased bandwidth,” said, Representative Wendy Horman (R-Idaho Falls), member of the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee.

Idaho’s colleges and universities will have expanded capability to simultaneously share instructional programs, modelling and simulation, virtual laboratories, infrastructure, and more.

“Ultimately, this is about investment in a modern workforce,” said Brent Stacey, President of the IRON Board of Directors.  “The more cutting-edge hands on training and education we provide students in Idaho colleges and universities, the better prepared they will be to enter a dynamic workforce.  This is true for students in continuing education programs or those pursuing a certificate or degree,” Stacey continued.

The bandwidth upgrade will be supported by Idaho National Laboratory at a cost in excess of $2 million.  Legislation signed by Governor Otter authorizes the State of Idaho to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the upgrade at a cost of $800,000 per year.  The investment is part of the state’s funding of Idaho’s college and universities budgets.

Senator Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls), a member of the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Senate Education Committee said, “Idaho will see the benefit of this investment; as we see our students enter the workforce more qualified.  We need the IRON upgrade so our students have access to a 21st century education regardless of where they are in the state. The increased access to academic and career technical education programs offered through Idaho’s universities, community colleges and dual credit courses will benefit our students and the state.”

For over 10 years, IRON has provided the infrastructure for reliable, high-speed access and connectivity across Idaho. As a rural state with vast geographical divides, the advanced, secure, high-capacity network is essential for Idaho’s education, research and health care centers. The increased capacity allows Idaho’s educational and research communities to compete for large federal grants and new national research centers where requirements for bandwidth, data security and network redundancy are set at a high standard. It also provides dedicated fiber-optic resources to achieve technical data transfer and storage objectives that would otherwise be unavailable in our state.

“I want to thank the many individuals and organizations who supported this proposal, including Governor Otter, the members of the entire legislature and in particular the members of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee, the State Board of Education, our college and university presidents, the Idaho National Laboratory and the IRON Charter Associates,” said Stacey. “It was impressive to see the broad support for IRON across the state.”

About the Idaho Regional Optical Network, Inc. IRON (www.ironforidaho.net) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 2007 as a cooperative effort between Boise State University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, Washington State University, the State of Idaho, the Idaho Hospital Association, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). IRON provides essential connectivity at speeds up to 100 gigabits, supporting research, education, health care, economic development and state and local governments. IRON, like 40 other Regional Optical Networks across the country, provides connectivity to the Internet, and to Internet2, the nation’s advanced research and education broadband network (www.internet2.org).

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IRON Announces 2018 Officers

Boise, ID, January 25, 2018 – The Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) is pleased to announce its 2018 slate of officers. IRON officers and board of directors are chosen from the organization’s Charter and General Associates which include representatives and members-at large of the state’s higher education, health care, research, state and local government, and economic development organizations.

For 2018:

  • President and Chief Executive Officer, Brent Stacey, Senior Adviser to the Laboratory Director, Idaho National Laboratory
  • Treasurer, Randy Gaines, Chief Information Officer for the Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID.
  • Secretary, Stacey Carson, Vice President of Operations for the Idaho Hospital Association in Boise, ID.
  • Immediate Past President, Brian Whitlock, President and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association in Boise, ID.

The board wishes to express their gratitude to the outgoing IRON Immediate Past President, Dan Ewart, VP for Infrastructure/CIO at University of Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho.

Chartered in late 2007, IRON (www.ironforidaho.net) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established as a cooperative effort between Boise State University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, Washington State University, the State of Idaho, the Idaho Hospital Association, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). IRON is owned, operated and managed by these Charter and General Associates.

IRON provides essential connectivity, including fiber optics, circuits and equipment, for the Idaho’s universities, the state of Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory and non-profit hospitals.  IRON benefits Idaho by providing a reliable and scalable network at speeds up to 100 gigabits, supporting research, education health care, economic development and state and local governments. IRON, like 43 similar Regional Optical Network organizations operating in other states across the country, provides access and connectivity to the Internet, and to Internet2, the nation’s advanced research and education broadband network  (www.internet2.org).

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IRON Announces 2017 Officers

Boise, ID, January 26, 2017 – The Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) is pleased to announce its 2017 slate of officers. IRON officers and board of directors are chosen from the organization’s Charter and General Associates which include representatives and members-at large of the state’s higher education, health care, research, state and local government, and economic development organizations.

For 2017:

  • President and Chief Executive Officer, Brian Whitlock, President and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association in Boise, ID.
  • Treasurer, Randy Gaines, Chief Information Officer for the Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID.
  • Secretary, Stacey Carson, Vice President of Operations for the Idaho Hospital Association in Boise, ID.
  • Immediate Past President, Dan Ewart, Vice President of Infrastructure/CIO, University of  Idaho in Moscow, ID.

The board wishes to express their gratitude to the outgoing IRON officers including:

  • Immediate Past President Howard Grimes, Director for Innovation & Industry Partnerships at the Idaho National Laboratory & Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES)
  • Treasurer Joseph Taylor, CIO at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Chartered in late 2007, IRON (www.ironforidaho.net) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established as a cooperative effort between Boise State University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, Idaho State University, University of Idaho, Washington State University, the State of Idaho, the Idaho Hospital Association, and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). IRON is owned, operated and managed by these Charter and General Associates.

IRON provides essential connectivity, including fiber optics, circuits and equipment, for the Idaho’s universities, the state of Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory and non-profit hospitals.  IRON benefits Idaho by providing a reliable and scalable network at speeds up to 100 gigabits, supporting research, education health care, economic development and state and local governments. IRON, like 40 similar Regional Optical Network organizations operating in other states across the country, provides access and connectivity to the Internet, and to Internet2, the nation’s advanced research and education broadband network  (www.internet2.org).

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NSF GRANT WILL IMPROVE MOVEMENT OF BIG DATA AT BSU

A new National Science Foundation grant will help build for an improved research network at Boise State and across Idaho. Improving the control, speed and ease of transferring large data sets is imperative to advancing Boise State research as the scope and volume of data increases and as the university increasingly relies on distributed and national cyberinfrastructure assets. 

This is the second NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Data, Networking, and Innovation (CC*DNI) grant awarded to Boise State in the past year. Principal investigator for the two-year, $250,605 award is Max Davis-Johnson, associate vice president for information technology, and co-PIs are Harold Blackman, associate vice president for research and economic development, and Lejo Flores, associate professor of geosciences.

Funded research in the future will involve collaboration with other research institutions and big data,” said Davis-Johnson. “This grant will set the foundation for moving huge data sets – huge meaning multiple Terabytes – and allowing Boise State to participate in large collaborative projects across the country.”

The project will expand Boise State’s research network by establishing two science DMZs connected to the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON). A DMZ, or demilitarized zone, is a protected subnetwork that allows researchers and faculty to safely access Internet services and resources without filtering or firewalls, thus making content readily available while protecting the system from cyber-attack. 

The DMZs will be located on the edge of the university network and at the Idaho Computing Consortium site, hosted at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Supercomputing Center.  

Using software defined networks (SDN), OpenFlow switches and an OpenFlow controller enables IRON to switch data traffic at a high throughput rate between researchers at the university and the high performance computing equipment at INL. This enhanced regional research network provides a fast, extremely secure and dynamic network environment for the larger data sets researchers are analyzing with parallel computing using university, NSF and Department of Energy assets.

The project’s goals are three-fold:

•    Build an enterprise-wide science DMZ

•    Improve campus and regional bridging across IRON

•    Enhance the use of computational cyberinfrastructure assets located at INL and at NSF-funded computational science Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) sites 

Utilizing the monitoring software perfSONAR framework throughout the regional optical network allows constant monitoring of throughput, performance and latency issues. The SDN switches and controller allow high transport speed across the regional optical network that is normally slower due to the latency of routed traffic. Reliable high-speed data traffic is the infrastructure that researchers expect as they expand large-scale, data-intensive scientific research.  

This project enhances high performance computing throughout the Idaho research community, the Rocky Mountain Advanced Computer Consortium and the XSEDE.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Media Contact: Kathleen Tuck, University Communications, (208) 426-3275kathleentuck@boisestate.edu

About Boise State University

A public metropolitan research university with more than 22,000 students, Boise State is proud to be powered by creativity and innovation. Located in Idaho’s capital city, the university has a growing research agenda and plays a crucial role in the region’s knowledge economy and famed quality of life. In the past 10 years, the university has quadrupled the number of doctoral degrees, doubled its masters degrees and now offers 13 online degree programs. Learn more at www.BoiseState.edu

Brian Whitlock

Brian A. Whitlock appointed to IRON board

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The Idaho Regional Optical Network Inc. (IRON), a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized to provide provide ultra high speed connectivity for research, education and economic development in the state of Idaho, today announced the appointment of Brian A. Whitlock to its board of directors, effective immediately.

Brian Whitlock is the President and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association (IHA) in Boise, Idaho. He joined the IHA in August 2015.  Brian is the lead spokesperson for IHA; is responsible for state and federal advocacy and legislative representation of the IHA agenda on key political issues; leads the development of new policies and programs that serve membership; manages media communications; is the primary liaison with other health related organizations and business entities on hospital health care developments and issues; and is liaison and staff support to IHA board appointed committees.

“Brian brings extensive experience in policy development to IRON, and will play a key role as IRON executes its strategic vision of providing connectivity among Idaho’s research and educational institutions, and to the global research and education community,” said Daniel R. Ewart, CEO and President of IRON. “His experience in state and government affairs will be a tremendous asset to IRON.”

Prior to joining IRON, Mr. Whitlock served as Director for State and Government Affairs for the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Previously, he was Chief of Staff for Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

“I am honored by the opportunity to contribute to IRON,” said Mr. Whitlock. “IRON is uniquely positioned to serve the state’s needs for research, education and economic development. I intend to leverage my expertise in service of IRON’s mission.”

Mr. Whitlock is also a board member the Idaho Simulation Network, and serves on the Idaho Industrial Commission’s Advisory Committee, the Governor’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission and the Boise Chamber Healthcare Advisory Council.

IRON board of directors consists of members of its Associates, who represent research, education, healthcare and state government in the state of Idaho.

About the Idaho Regional Optical Network, Inc.

IRON’s Charter Associates own and operate a dedicated high-speed fiber optic network infrastructure to support Idaho’s unique research, health care, education and government needs. The IRON network is Idaho’s dedicated connection to other research and education networks throughout the United States and around the world. IRON’s Associates own, not just rent the bandwidth they need to partner in important statewide initiatives as well as large-scale, global research projects. A high-speed network makes innovation and discovery faster and more efficient so that more Idahoans can have greater access to world-class opportunities and grow our economy. IRON’s purpose-built network addresses Idaho’s ever-growing demand for dedicated high-speed fiber optic connectivity.

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