INL cultivates resources for collaboration and business success

By Misty Benjamin, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs

Idaho National Laboratory is supporting research and development by crossing the digital divide in order to expand opportunities in Idaho. INL’s expansion of high performance computing, data computation and visualization centers allows the lab to act as a hub for collaborations between industry and university partners.

The backbone of the lab’s computing collaborations is the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON). Its high-speed connections facilitate researchers at the university to quickly access needed computational resources located in other areas throughout the state.

Brent Stacey, INL’s chief information officer, is one of the architects behind IRON. He envisions the investment as a way to enhance opportunities across the state.

“Our ability to provide access to high-performance computing, specialized facilities and high-quality bandwidth is good for the state, students and employers like INL.”

INL was instrumental in providing guidance and direction to the state of Idaho through programs such as IRON. This nonprofit organization is chartered to advance science, research, education, health care and state government through access to very high-speed and cost-effective bandwidth. Victor Braud, IRON’s general manager, is pleased with how the investment in IRON is bringing geographically-dispersed resources closer together.

“IRON’s mission is being fulfilled, and that’s exciting,” Braud said. “Geographically, we live in a large state and traversing the digital divide is important to the state’s economic growth and prosperity.”

INL’s strategic management of technology and information has positioned the lab for the development of capabilities such as: high performance computing capabilities, INL’s participation in IRON, and the development and implementation of tools that ensure the right information reaches the right people at the right time.

The change marks a strategic transformation of the outlook on technology and information management. Five years ago, INL identified that strategic management of technology and information at the lab could significantly enhance the mission success of the world-class nuclear laboratory.

INL has shifted the focus from immersion in the day-to-day operations supporting information technology to addressing the long-term information and business process needs of INL. Stacey and his Information Management (IM) team enabled this transition by defining new IM roles, engaging INL strategic planning in support of technology transformation and management of information specifically directed at moving the lab’s mission forward.

“It’s been said that technology is going to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50 years,” Stacey said. “Taking on changes of that magnitude will require an infrastructure that is robust, and a team that is in tune with the dynamics of the business.”

Gartner, renowned as the world’s leader in information technology research and advisory services, has published a case study detailing how INL manages information to achieve its mission. This case study recognizes INL’s adoption of practices with a forward-looking perspective toward business needs for information management and technology adoption. This is only the third time in the past decade that Gartner has performed a case study involving a national laboratory.

Realizing that IM must be an integrated business partner, Stacey was instrumental in changing every facet of the way that information management and technology decisions happen at INL. Stacey supports the laboratory’s information and technology needs and also strategically engages all areas of the laboratory to ensure that every activity within his organization is directly aligned with the overall mission of the laboratory. The effort ensures that IM engages senior management as a strategic partner in solving INL’s most challenging issues as well as providing ongoing excellence in operational support.

Stacey believes the chief information officer with any business must be an effective innovator and must be an integral part of a corporate strategy’s birth, planning, implementation and continued refinement. The High Performance Workplace initiative at INL is an example of this strategy in action. The initiative, supported by INL senior management, will transform INL’s workplace through the alignment of technology and information management with business requirements and future needs.

Learn more here!

ISU Joins Optic Network

By Jake Taylor

POCATELLO, Idaho – A fiber optic upgrade coming to Idaho State University could have researchers working much closer with other institutions across the state.

ISU has announced a partnership with the Idaho Regional Optic Network, or IRON.

The new network provides an ultra-fast broadband connection for research institutions across the state.

“It expands our internet bandwidth for research. It more than doubles it, at a very affordable price. And it strengthens our connections with, not only other higher ed institutions in the state, but with the Idaho Education Network,” ISU Chief Information Officer Randy Gaines said.

According to IRON general manager Victor Braud, along with bringing university researchers a whole lot more speed, the new network should save ISU a nice chunk of change.

“IRON essentially provides access and bandwidth to the nations and the regions research and education networks at prices that are about 15 percent of what they’d pay a retail provider,” Braud said.

Braud said having collaboration like this available makes a very big difference to high-tech businesses looking for new locations.

“IRON, along with the Idaho Education Network, are providing the very, very high speed broadband communications that are necessary to provide research and other technology oriented companies to Idaho,” Braud said.

Learn more here!

Idaho selected to participate in nationwide broadband pilot project!

The Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) and Internet2 announce the selection of IRON and 13 other affiliate program participants (Regional Optical Networks) to facilitate advanced and innovative broadband applications to help community anchor institutions..

Boise, ID, Feb. 7, 2012 – IRON (the Idaho Regional Optical Network) and Internet2 today announced that IRON had been selected, along with 13 other Regional Optical Networks, to participate in a major, nationwide initiative (U.S. UCAN) that will expand broadband communications access and connectivity throughout Idaho, to community anchor institutions, including public libraries, schools, community colleges, research parks, public safety and health care institutions.

“I am excited to begin collaborating with our initial set of affiliates to define the programs and services we will build together to deliver advanced broadband networks and use them effectively,” said Mark Johnson, interim executive director, U.S. UCAN.

The U.S. UCAN national program office and the pilot affiliates (regional fiber optic network providers) will work together to define and provide appropriate support, guidance, direction and services that can be offered to community anchor institutions. The pilot affiliates will provide the primary network access points for community anchor institutions.

The 14 affiliate Regional Optical Networks selected and the states they represent include:

• CENIC – California
• FLR – Florida
• Indiana GigaPOP
• IRON – Idaho
• MAGPI – Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware
• MCNC – North Carolina
• MDREN – Maryland
• Montana
• MOREnet – Missouri
• New York
• OARnet – Ohio
• PNWGP – Washington
• UEN – Utah
• WiscNet – Wisconsin