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A Look at OneNet’s Interconnection to Higher Education Yesterday and Today

As OneNet celebrates our 20th anniversary in 2016, we’re taking a look back at our history and how far we’ve come today. A vital component of that history and OneNet’s success has been our partnership with higher education. From the beginning, OneNet operated interdependently with higher education, and that is still true today.

Televised Instruction System 1971 sign with outline of state of OklahomaIn the 90’s the state identified the need for a network to connect rural communities. At that time, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education operated the Educational Telecommunications Network (ETN). The new network would replace ETN and build upon the State Regents’ success in managing a distance learning network. That new network became OneNet.

OneNet became operational in 1996 as a division of the State Regents. The network was designed to be interconnected with higher education institutions on every practical level. The institutions would provide space in their data centers to house OneNet’s network equipment. In addition to space, they would also provide electricity and security for the network gear. In exchange, OneNet would provide Internet service to all public higher education institutions.

Today, OneNet has hub sites on 38 higher education campuses, creating a network that spans to every corner of the state. In return, we provide $3.1 million in Internet connections, along with other services such as hosting, back-up and co-location, for higher education institutions.

OneNet’s support for higher education goes beyond providing Internet for digital and distance learning. We also support the institutions’ research programs and requirements for big data movement across the state and around the globe. OneNet’s 100Gbps research ring connects Oklahoma State University campuses in Stillwater and Tulsa, The University of Oklahoma in Norman and OneNet in Oklahoma City. This high-speed ring enables our state’s researchers to participate in world-class research projects nationally and internationally.

Internet2 Member LogoBeyond the research ring, OneNet also provides Oklahoma’s connection to Internet2. This 100Gbps nationwide network is designed specifically for research and education. Our connection to Internet2 is like providing a highway just for researchers, educators and students. This highway separates their Internet traffic from commercial traffic, ensuring a higher quality of service. OneNet is able to provide the Internet2 connection to Oklahoma because of our connection to higher education.

OneNet connects our state to another nationwide organization as well. The Quilt is a national organization for research and education networks like OneNet. Through our participation in The Quilt, OneNet is able to identify and apply best practices from other networks that support research and education communities in their own states.

In addition to governance by the State Regents, higher education provides leadership and strategic direction for OneNet through the Regents’ Council on Information Technology (CoIT). Members of this council include the chief information officer or highest level of technology leadership from each of the state’s higher education institutions. CoIT sets technical priorities for OneNet, aggregates technology purchases, maximizes IT efficiency and collaborates on best practices.

Photo of college graduates with diplomasI have the honor of serving as both OneNet’s executive director and Oklahoma’s higher education chief information officer. Through these two positions, I am able to ensure OneNet is meeting the requirements of higher education, while also ensuring higher education provides the support OneNet needs to deliver the most advanced network in the state. Higher education not only benefits from this partnership, but also all of OneNet’s customers reap the benefits.

As I look beyond 2016 to the next 20 years, I see the need for OneNet’s interconnection to higher education growing. As the speed of innovation increases, technology requirements will be ever-changing. We will see technology play an even bigger role in education and influence how education is transformed for the next generation. OneNet is ready to take on these challenges, building on the success of the last 20 years and propelling our state forward for 20 more.

 

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