The Global Research Network Operations Center (GlobalNOC) at Indiana University provides premier network coordination and engineering services for the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN), among others.

The PennREN high-speed fiber network provides up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) connectivity for services to institutions of higher education, pre-K-12 programs, health care entities, libraries, non-profits, and other partners. The network advances Pennsylvania’s capabilities and services in education, health care, workforce development, and economic development in support of sustainable growth, government, and enhanced services.

PennREN was established by the Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research (KINBER) to build a fiber optic cable network that extends over 1,800 miles through 51 Pennsylvania counties. KINBER is a public and private coalition of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, research and health care organizations, and economic development entities. In 2010, it received nearly $100 million in federal stimulus funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create its network.

Each year, KINBER brings together network stakeholders and customers for its statewide conference. KINBERCON 2017 was a two-day event that brought together hundreds of Pennsylvania’s leaders in education, health care, economic development, libraries, public media, government, and technology to share ideas and success stories about using next-generation networks and technology. The gathering featured a day of breakout sessions across four tracks–General, Cloud, Security, and Internet of Things­­­­–followed by a full day of technical training opportunities. The conference hosted dozens of panels and technical workshops, as well as keynote speakers and an evening gala networking reception.

A record number of attendees, nearly 300 leaders and technologists, gathered April 3-5 at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh to attend the sixth annual conference. The event highlights KINBER’s key role as a catalyst for innovation and economic development and has emerged as the leading Pennsylvania conference convening people from across the commonwealth to learn about and discuss research, education and community network technologies, applications, strategies, and collaborations in the region and nationwide.

“I want to challenge all of you to work with KINBER in our efforts to provide broadband connectivity to all corners of Pennsylvania, support the use of innovative technologies, and foster a more diverse IT workforce,” said KINBER President and CEO Wendy Huntoon during the opening keynote. “Consider what you and your organizations can do to help achieve these goals in your communities and neighboring communities.”

In support of KINBER stakeholders and PennREN customers, GlobalNOC maintains a visible presence at the conference. “I thought the keynote, David Hickton, provided a great topic and delivery,” said GlobalNOC Manager of Business Operations, Education, and Outreach Heather Starks. “I attended a session, ‘Preparing a Successful NSF Infrastructure Grant Proposal,’ with Wendy Huntoon and Nili Tannenbaum, that was filled with actual working examples, history, and experience. Very useful.”

“Many PennREN customers may not know us,” said GlobalNOC Service Desk Manager Jon Sherk. “We want to make sure we grow our relationships with them by seeing a name with a face and getting a chance to talk about their concerns as customers. We are much more than a faceless service provider that cares deeply about the work that’s being accomplished through such a fantastic high-speed network like PennREN. It’s a great opportunity to talk about best practices in the operational space.”

“We are not selling services, we are promoting PennREN and what it can do,” said GlobalNOC Operations Manager Corey Donovan. “We enjoy meeting with KINBER’s customers because we are there to serve them.”

“KINBER and PennREN have seen tremendous growth over the last seven years,” added Sherk. “There are many more people to meet who’ve never met us besides over the phone, so we try to get out there as often as possible. We want them to know what we’re providing, because that contributes to better communication overall.”

IU provides 24/7 service desk and network operations services, as well as tier two engineering support, for PennREN. GlobalNOC’s network operations and engineering services rely on advanced network management software specifically developed by the GlobalNOC software team to meet the needs of research and education networks like PennREN.

The cross-state partnership of the GlobalNOC and PennREN affirms the value that Indiana offers in building out state, regional, and national high-speed networks that further the national broadband initiative. Pennsylvania is seeing great benefits from this network. It helps many private companies provide fast connections to their rural Pennsylvania communities.

For information on this year’s KINBERCON, head to kinbercon.org