Joint meeting of the SIG-MSP and EaPConnect Project
11-12 October 2022, Tbilisi, Georgia

The EaPConnect Project and GÉANT Special Interest Group for Managed Services Portfolio (SIG-MSP) joined forces at a meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia on 11 and 12 October 2022. The meeting was hosted by GRENA, the Georgian Research and Educational Networking Association and was attended by ASNET-AM (Armenia), AzScienceNet (Azerbaijan), GRENA (Georgia) and RENAM (Moldova), members of the EaPConnect Technical Committee and invited guests from the GÉANT R&E community. Unfortunately, due to the recent exacerbation of the Russian attacks in several Ukrainian cities, our URAN colleagues were not able to join the event even remotely.

For all participants the meeting was a welcome opportunity to come face-face and reconnect in-person for the first time since the pandemic.

The meeting started with a warm welcome by Ramaz Kvatadze, the Executive Director of GRENA. Ramaz also provided an insight into GRENA and the organisation’s recent milestones.

The importance of Foresight

Guest speaker, Professor René Rohrbeck from EDHEC Business School in Lille, shared an outline of the foresight methodology for managing innovation and defining strategy for the future.

Foresight is a way to prepare for innovation. It allows to forecast what will be happening to help organisations to get ready for a world that will be different from today’s world and to enable innovation in response to evolving needs. Foresight is about human choice, we are making our own fate, there are decisions that are taken consciously or unconsciously collectively and individually, Innovation cannot happen in isolation, innovation drives us forward, it’s good for humanity, for organisations, and it’s worth fighting for.

Professor René Rohrbeck , EDHEC Business School, Lille

Representatives from the two largest European NRENs, Jisc, UK and Surf, the Netherlands provided an insight into how foresight informs their product strategy, challenges their organisations are facing and how far ahead they are looking.

At the start of the EaPConnect Technical Committee meeting on 12 October, Irina Matthews, EaPConnect Manager said : ‘This event offers us the opportunity to dedicate time to focus on sustainability and foresight. This is the time to reflect, to take stock, to develop joint common knowledge and understanding, to formulate a roadmap for sustainability and innovation. We recognise a great diversity of NRENs: each NREN is different in having an established working business model, a diverse user base and a range of services. Roadmaps for innovation and sustainability need to be contextualised and reflect specific features of each NREN. There is a definite benefit of having the richness of experiences of other NRENs to draw upon in order to understand what sustainability means for each NREN and what roadmaps may look like”.

Snapshot views of each EaPConnect NRENs gave all participants the opportunity to share some further considerations and suggest next steps towards, more specifically,  the development of a value proposition as a pre-requisite of maintaining, growing and diversifying a user base.

Strategic challenges

Comments by Klaas Wierenga, CITO from GÉANT about the strategic challenges faced by NRENs provided a start for a stimulating debate : ‘The identity ecosystem is going to look very different in the next 5 years: 4 out of 5 citizens in the EU should be able to use the electronic identity on a daily basis. How do you get identity federation in your institutions? It is the totality of all services brings real value to organisations.’

The outcome of the debate was the identified need to take action at formulating  a value proposition model for each EaPConnect NREN with the focus on  stakeholders: who they are, what impacts their decision-making, what they aim to achieve, what creates their motivation, and how services based  on the use of identity federations can help.

Irina Matthews, EaPConnect project manager, closed the meeting highlighting once again the relevance and importance of the GEANT community.

We have the benefit of bringing together the wealth of the experience of the GÉANT community to deliver tangible outcomes for each NREN. Working together enables us to map the landscape for each NREN that is unique as it reflects the specifics of the environment and context. By recognising and valuing diversity and collaboration with the international NREN community the EaPConnect project can focus its support on areas of particular relevance to each EaP NREN as well as to address some issues of common interest.

Irina Matthews, EaPConnect Project Manager, GÉANT