Within the Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA), Brook Schofield is responsible for a porfolio of middleware activities that includes his participation as secretary for the Task Force on European Middleware Coordination and Collaboration (EMC2); in the GN3plus (GÉANT) Project he is the task leader for the eduGAIN interfederation service and member of the operational team for eduroam, activity pretty similar at the one that he carries at the ELCIRA project. In this interview we benefited from Brook’s knowledge about eduroam in order to better understand why is this such a relevant service.
Some people refers to you as eduroam’s God father. Could you share with us your personal story with eduroam?
eduroam has had lots of parents in its lifetime and many more people will influence its development as it gets older.
I first heard about eduroam when I was working in the UK for a support group. It was there that I first met James Sankar who was working within the TERENA taskforce on Mobility (now Mobility and Network Middleware) and specifically encouraging deployment in the UK.
When I returned to Australia and had the opportunity to chair the eduroam Project Group coordinated by AARNet (the Australian Academic and Research Network) once again my path crossed with James' and along with a great bunch of committed individuals we increased the deployment and visibility of eduroam Down Under.
In September 2008 I met Klaas Wierenga the chair of TF-Mobility at a conference in Melbourne, Australia. Klaas famously shared an idea on a mailing list – see: https://www.terena.org/mail-archives/mobility/msg00062.html - which became eduroam.
In May 2009 I joined TERENA and became the Secretary of TF-Mobility. My first TERENA conference allowed me to put faces to the names that have appeared on the mobility mailing list over the years and hear 1st hand the developments surrounding eduroam.
Since then I've been part of the Operational Team for eduroam and worked on boosting the number of deployments and quality of the service.
In brief, what is eduroam and who or whom is/are its main beneficiaries?
eduroam is a secure wireless roaming service for research and education. What this means in practice is that once you've configured your device, whether it is a phone, a tablet or laptop, you'll automatically be connected to the wireless network of an eduroam participating site without the need to get a guest account or reconfigure your device. eduroam isn't a splash screen authentication system like hotels and cafés use so it is perfectly suited to small screen devices and ensures that your authentication for network access is secure.
This has benefits for staff, students and researchers as they move around campus, around town or travel abroad. They'll have internet access without needing to do anything extra and without expensive roaming charges. eduroam is free at point of use for staff, students and researchers alike.
The IT Support staff also benefit because once a users devices is configured - it will continue to work on eduroam no matter where they travel. When visitor come to their site, IT don't have to issue guest accounts and they are safe in the knowledge that these visitors are from an eduroam participant organisation and haven't found a shared wireless key to gain access to /your/ network.
How many countries and NRENs have already implemented eduroam?
eduroam is growing all the time. In September we welcomed the 66th territory to eduroam (Ecuador) bringing the total number of Latin American eduroam partners to 8.
This explosive growth over the past few years necessitated the creation of the formation of the Global eduroam Governance Committee (GeGC). TERENA has always been active in the governance of eduroam but the GeGC gave a voice to the continents that are actually doing the deployment. The GeGC started only representing Europe, Asia and North America but with its expansion in Latin America (now supported by the ELCIRA project) and in Africa those two continents were invited to provide representatives for the governance of eduroam.
eduroam is now 10 years old. Could you refer to the three most relevant eduroam’s milestones during it’s lifetime?
#1 - the initial concept
Klaas Wierenga shared an idea on a mailing list https://www.terena.org/mail-archives/mobility/msg00062.html which became eduroam.
#2 - 10 years of growth (you can read the full story here: http://www.terena.org/news/3162/fullstory).
#3 - It hasn't happened yet.
eduroam continues to be exciting and there are many more locations we can expand to and improvements to be made that as a community there is still interest and developments that will continue to make the service relevant and easy to use for a wide range of users.
Which is the importance of having eduroam as part of the ELCIRA development objectives and why do the Latin American NRENs have to “seriously mess” (as eduroam promotional video says) with eduroam?
The ELCIRA project is proving an important catalyst for eduroam adoption and its deployment at the TICAL 2012 conference shows that the community is able to offer a high quality service rapidly.
The usage statistics from TICAL will help target specific NRENs and institutions so that even more people can take advantage of eduroam at TICAL 2013.
Latin American NRENs should mess with eduroam, seriously, because the research and education community need to be offered services that are relevant for the entire spectrum of the community. High speed internet links and access to research infrastructures are an important component of the business of an NREN, but eduroam unleashes the power of campus based identity management systems. It allows a campus account to offer services off campus, including around the world and in a great introduction in to federated services.
The investment in campus services is then further enhanced with federated web single sign on (WebSSO). So the initial investment in eduroam can be reused for a broader range of services.
In June 2012 you visit Peru, in September 2012 Chile, in August 2012 RNP launched eduroam in Brazil and in July 2013 Colombia. What is your personal perception of what is going on with eduroam in Latin America?
eduroam in Latin America is in great hands. We've found new parents to look after eduroam with José Luis Quiroz and Leandro Marcos de Oliveira Guimares and their commitment, passion and engagement with the community is exactly what is needed to ensure that as wide as possible an audience knows and implements this service.