Oklahoma’s research community is rich with collaboration, and OneNet is at the center of research collaborations among our state’s higher education institutions. OneNet’s Senior Director of Network Systems Brian Burkhart provides leadership for OneNet’s involvement in a variety of research initiatives.
Burkhart joined the OneNet team in November of 1999 as a systems engineer. Currently as senior director of network systems, Burkhart manages the OneNet team that delivers above-the-net services such as virtual infrastructure, data center services, application hosting and video conferencing. As research collaborations have grown and Oklahoma has received more grant funding to expand the state’s research network, Burkhart has taken on an additional leadership role within the research community.
Burkhart is OneNet’s liaison to the OneOklahoma Cyberinfrastructure Initiative (OneOCII). OneOCII is a statewide initiative to provide cyberinfrastructure resources as well as expertise and education to statewide research organizations. This initiative allows more Oklahoma higher education institutions, career technology schools, high schools and even non-academic organizations to pursue advanced research projects.
OneNet serves as the backbone for this collaboration by providing a common, scalable network with bandwidth options from one to 100 Gbps. Burkhart ensures the OneOCII participants have the networking services they need to remove resource constraints and spur innovation at their institutions.
Burkhart also partners with many of the OneOCII participants in managing the OneOklahoma Friction Free Network (OFFN). OFFN is a network that runs parallel to OneNet’s network and provides participants with a dedicated internet route that is much faster than traditional internet highways. This alternative pathway facilitates data transfer for faculty and student research projects.
OFFN is funded through a series of three National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. Currently, 12 research and regional institutions are connected to OFFN, but Burkhart recently led an effort to submit a fourth NSF grant application to add five smaller institutions to the network.
Another vital role Burkhart fills is representing OneNet with regional and global research initiatives. Burkhart works with both the Great Plains Network and the Pacific Wave International Exchange. The Great Plains Network is a consortium of universities in the midwestern states, dedicated to supporting research and education through the use of advanced networking technology. The Pacific Wave network provides connectivity to the Asia-Pacific region and enhances collaborations in this area for Oklahoma’s research institutions.
Closer to home, Burhart also provides support for the State Regents’ Council on Information Technology (CoIT). This council is comprised of principal information technology officers from each institutional campus in the state system of higher education. CoIT considers technology and related issues affecting Oklahoma higher education and serves as the statewide advisory council for the State Regents.
Burkhart recently worked with several CoIT members to form a consortium to purchase and deploy Blackboard’s learning management system at multiple institutions. Burkhart’s team coordinates with the IT teams at each institution and provides Blackboard hosting and management services for the institutions.
“It has been a real pleasure becoming more involved with the research community in Oklahoma and around the country,” Burkhart said. “Oklahoma has a great reputation for its leadership in collaboration and research enablement. It’s an honor to participate with such great folks.”
While Burkhart enjoys his collaborations with the research community, he’s not all work and no play. He earned his private pilot’s license in 2019 and recently started studying for his instrument rating. He enjoys flying with his wife Kristi.