The below summary of the key differences, comes courtesy of our colleagues at Internet2 in the United States:
• NRENs serve scholarly purposes; ISPs serve commercial purposes
• The environment for NRENs is collegial; for ISPs it is proprietary
• NRENs are collaborative; ISPs are competitive
NRENs are continuously evolving, but doing so according to the demands and values of the academic communities we serve, rather than those of the marketplace.
Research networks like REANNZ operate in a space of exploration. We experiment with new technologies and push the capabilities of existing technologies in order to meet the needs of a very specific user group - our researchers.
This involves collaboration with organisations like Google and our international NREN colleagues on projects such as Google Loon, GLIF, perfSONAR, Square Kilometer Array and the Large Hadron Collider, which was built to discover the Higgs Boson (the ‘God particle’ that gives matter mass).
In all of these projects, research and education networks are at the heart of the discovery. Some of the most notable of which are the World Wide Web and advancements in magnetic resonance imaging that is common practice in medicine today.
In order to be successful and continue to offer services that are relevant to our community, we must continue to evolve and redefine ourselves at a much faster pace than ISPs.
Our ultimate purpose is to serve scholars and innovators, ensuring that Kiwi research and development is contributing to the local and global economy.
In order to achieve this, we work in a collaborative, open-source way ensuring the network services we offer here in New Zealand are compatible with NRENs around the world, from Australia and the United States, through to Europe, Africa and Asia.
Our services are borderless, just as research and knowledge are borderless. And only with borderless technology can science, education and innovation truly flourish in New Zealand.
By Steve Cotter, CEO, REANNZ