MoRST studies IT infrastructure need

The Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST) is to study the country's scientific IT infrastructure, a move likely to further boost the efforts of the Next Generation Internet consortium.

The Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST) is to study the country’s scientific IT infrastructure, a move likely to further boost the efforts of the Next Generation Internet consortium.

MoRST believes there is “an issue” in IT infrastructure and is looking into the extent and nature of the need, says Andrew Kibblewhite, the ministry’s general manager for strategic development.

An advisory group of nine from scientific establishments and universities, under the leadership of Dr Peter Hunter of the University of Auckland, is assisting MoRST in the project. The body is in close touch with the NGI consortium, but is not especially committed to its direction, Kibblewhite says.

The MoRST effort was generated in May as a result of an approach by scientists. “Our concern is that whatever gets done, it meets their needs,” says Kibblewhite.

The group had its first meeting six weeks ago and its second last week. A clear view is emerging that scientists and academics need a more easily accessible, high-capacity infrastructure, he says.

The exercise should reach a conclusion within the next two months, Kibblewhite says. These conclusions are likely to be conveyed to ministers and other appropriate government agencies.

Peter Hunter sees a tighter timetable. He expects a report to be finalised in two weeks.

“We will be putting a document to [science and technology minister] Pete Hodgson,” he says. This will cover funding and governance of the infrastructures — the means through which the scientific community can feed back its experience and future needs to whoever runs the networks.

The MoRST-commissioned exercise builds on what NGI has done, and in no way supplants or overlaps it, says Hunter. “They’ve done an excellent job at the technical level,” he says.

Hunter’s team has been gathering cases that illustrate the need and sketch out the appropriate characteristics of such an infrastructure from the aspiring users’ angle. Neil James of Otago University, who heads the NGI effort, is on the advisory committee, Hunter notes.

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