Collaboration on emergency response testing and optimisation of the eduroam wifi roaming service were two agreements made recently between the Armenian and German national research and education networking (NREN) organisations ASNET-AM and DFN. Representatives met in Berlin as part of a mentorship alliance organised within the EU-funded Eastern Partnership Connect project, EaPConnect.

The mentorship scheme was initiated to create opportunities for practical technical collaboration, as EaPConnect project co-lead and DFN Senior Manager Global Liaison Leonie Schäfer explains:

“This was set up as collaboration among equals. There’s a need to collaborate on an expert level, not just a management level and to make Eastern Partnership NRENs more visible and bring them towards the future GÉANT projects. You only really get to know people and benefit from their expertise when you actually work with them. The EaPConnect collaboration programme is a pilot exploring future collaboration on an expert level, set up on a one-to-one basis to intensify the degree of collaboration and make sure that the project partner NREN has a dedicated counterpart.” Leonie Schäfer.

Two-way exchange

Partners within EaPConnect from the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine – do not wish to be just ‘consumers’ in this process:

We received so much support from other NRENs. Now we would like to give back. We would like to contribute too.”

Sergey Abrahamyan, ASNET-AM,

Besides exchanging technical expertise, the idea is also to learn about other countries and how their NRENs tackle similar challenges.

“It was a useful opportunity for the two NRENs to see ‘another reality’ by meeting each other. It is supposed to support team building across borders.”

Leonie Schäfer, DFN, Senior Manager Global Liaison

Exploration and agreement

Five ASNET-AM representatives were hosted by DFN for two days of intensive meetings and discussions on 24-25 January. After exchanging short overviews of how their NRENs are structured and operate, they explored challenges and the possibility of joint projects in the areas of cybersecurity, trust and identity, and network monitoring. Group discussions followed on each topic and the event concluded with a ‘roadmap’ to the next steps.

The group agreed to collaborate on emergency response testing, firewall on demand and DDoS protection, software development and testing. They talked about relevant ISO standards and also the education roaming service eduroam, with insights shared into how best to optimise its set-up.

Insights and learning

ASNET-AM’s team came back with positive motivation for this initiative and great impressions of DFN, looking forward to a return visit by the DFN team to Armenia.

For ASNET it can be good to see what an NREN with more resources can do, for example, in the area of technology trends; I hope we can help them on their journey. For DFN the collaboration can help us practise communicating our skills, and to work towards a better perfected set of services and technologies.”

Jakob Tendel, DFN,

I am happy to have raised an interest among my DFN colleagues in this far away country and to agree to collaborate in future.”

Leonie Schäfer, DFN,
See the DFN magazine article (p.20, in German) about this collaboration with ASNET-AM. (Courtesy of DFN), ©DFN

Further information

The possibility of a second EaPConnect mentorship liaison is now being discussed, between URAN of Ukraine and CYNET of Cyprus, with the possibility of further pairings between EaPConnect partners and other European NRENs in future.