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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IRON Announces New General Manager

BOISE, ID – The Idaho Regional Optical Network, Inc. (IRON) announced today the appointment of Michael Guryan as General Manager for the organization. Previously IRON’s Distance Education Coordinator, Mr. Guryan will take over for IRON’s previous General Manager, Victor Braud. Mr. Guryan has decades of experience managing information technology networks as the former owner of Sun Valley Systems and Director of IT for the State of Idaho, SCP Global Technologies, Renaissance Mark, Akrion Inc and others.

“IRON has contributed to the deployment of broadband statewide,” Mr. Guryan noted. “Access to high-speed bandwidth is essential for education and drives economic development by overcoming geographic barriers. I am looking forward to continuing this important mission. Idaho’s participation in the global community depends on it.”

President and CEO Howard Grimes expressed his appreciation for Mr. Braud’s contributions to IRON. “On behalf of IRON’s Officers and Board of Directors, I would like to thank Victor for his years of service to IRON.” Mr. Braud was instrumental in IRON’s creation and development and served as General Manager from 2009 through 2015.

IRON is a regional research and education (R&E) network, chartered in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Idaho corporation.  IRON provides Idaho’s higher education, research, and healthcare institutions with high speed, low cost connectivity throughout Idaho, and to the national R&E network (Internet2), the public internet and surrounding regional networks.

IRON provides inter-campus connectivity among its Charter and General Associates to facilitate research and data exchange. IRON also provides connectivity between all its Associates and Idaho’s high schools for distance learning and college-level advanced placement courses. IRON is the designated Internet2 UCAN/SEGP entity for Idaho. As such it is responsible for providing Internet2 connectivity to its Charter Associates, General Associates and K-12 institutions.

INL Releases New Grid Desktop Simulation

GRID GAME TEACHES STUDENTS ABOUT ELECTRIC GRID COMPLEXITY, RESILIENCE

His 12-year-old daughter has told him the Grid Game is probably not going to be the next Candy Crush Saga, but Idaho National Laboratory research engineer Tim McJunkin still thinks there might be a fair number of people who would like to play at managing the electrical power grid.

McJunkin and a group of fellow engineers and teachers have developed a desktop simulation that allows players to keep load and generation in balance. “Red Team” participants can even mount financial and cyberattacks in real time, making the game even more interesting.

INL Grid GameGrid Game teaches students about electric grid complexity, resilience

“Your average citizen could gain something by learning what has to happen when they turn their lights on,” he said. While there are far more sophisticated simulations available in the industrial sector, McJunkin is hopeful that high schools will pick up on it. He spoke in July at the Idaho Professional Technical Educators Conference, and a pilot rollout will come this fall at Meridian Technical Charter High School.

The objective is simple, he said, “Keep the grid up and keep the customers happy.” Every player has a client and a virtual grid. Game points are earned by providing power and then used to buy more grid assets and grow the grid.

It’s a big balancing act. When a utility generates more power than is in demand, machines speed up until their circuit breakers shut them down. When there is more demand than generation, machines slow down, leading to brownouts and blackouts.

In real life, there’s a lot on the line when it comes to managing electrical power.

A White House report released in 2013 said outages caused by severe weather cost the U.S. economy an average of $18 billion to $33 billion a year. The hits come from lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production and damage to the electric grid.

Think of the outage in eastern Idaho on Dec. 4, 2014, which left 70,000 people without electricity for up to 10 hours in subzero cold. It started at 5:11 a.m. when roughly 49,000 customers lost power because a circuit breaker was out of service for critical maintenance. When a cold front rolled in from the North Pole, the Balancing Authority – a governmental entity that manages the transmission grid’s stability – ordered utilities in the region to shed load, forcing additional power cuts.

McJunkin seeks to replicate scenarios such as this in the Grid Game, which he admits is a work in progress. To push it to the next level, he is applying for grant money from the National Science Foundation and other organizations.

As an adjunct professor at Idaho State University, McJunkin first developed the Grid Game to give students in a Resilient Control Systems class an idea of how the grid operates. Two colleagues in particular – Craig Rieger, INL’s initiative lead for Instrumentation, Control and Intelligent Systems, and Mike Guryan, distance education coordinator at Idaho Regional Optical Network – encouraged him to expand it to a multiplayer format, allowing participants to buy and sell power, add new generation sources, find new customers and defend themselves from computer-based attacks.

For the last part, McJunkin teamed with Indrajit Ray, a professor of computer science at Colorado State University, for help. Ray and the university’s Hashdump security club developed software that allows hackers to implant denial of service viruses or to siphon off a utility’s money to virtual Swiss bank accounts.

So far, the biggest day out for the Grid Game was in August 2014, when it was featured at the Resilience Week 2014 Conference in Denver.

For the first 15 minutes, players focused on managing their utility. In the second 15 minutes, the hackers from CSU struck, preying on anyone who didn’t think anti-virus software was worth the expense, and taunting mercilessly. By the end, few players had much, if any, money in the bank.

McJunkin said he feels like there is a lot of room for the game to grow. Adding sources of baseload power like coal, natural gas and nuclear is one possibility. Then the game could reflect rules and regulations, which vary from state to state but can have a profound effect on grid operations.

“There’s room for use now and room for development in the future,” he said. “There’s a lot to play with and consider on the real grid.”

By Paul Menser
INL Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives
https://www.inl.gov/article/inl-releases-new-grid-desktop-simulation/