to Create Google
Through Internet2 NET+, universities help customize Google Cloud Platform (GCP) service for the academic enterprise and leverage powerful infrastructure to reduce barriers for science and scholarship.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has emerged as a key suite of tools to power university infrastructure, research, and teaching. It provides a powerful infrastructure, data analytics, and machine learning to free institutions from the overhead of managing infrastructure, provisioning servers, and configuring networks. But, higher education institutions needed key customizations and enhancements to the service to implement and fully leverage GCP. Through the Internet2 NET+ Program Service Validation process, universities formed a collective voice to work with GCP to customize and enhance the service to meet the data demands of researchers; and the security, scalability, and integration needs of higher education institutions and the extended community.
- NET+ Service Validation Institutions
- Michigan State University (Sponsor)
- Boston University
- Indiana University
- University of Washington
- Washington University of St. Louis
Products & Services
- Internet2 NET+ Program
- NET+ GCP Early Adopters Team
- Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit (HECVAT)
Cloud solutions have become critical to improve operations, reduce costs, and increase the speed of service delivery at academic institutions. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) has emerged as a key suite of tools to power university infrastructure, research, and teaching. However, without key customizations for the unique needs of the academic enterprise, there were many impediments to institutions adopting, and researchers utilizing this important solution.
“The NET+ GCP service validation process has given Indiana University access to a unique offering. This includes a community of technical resources and a collaborative environment to think strategically on how to design this service offering—something we could not have done on our own. Cloud adoption is essential for our community to stay competitive in the global marketplace. We are excited to provide the GCP toolset to our teaching, learning, and research communities to see where their imaginations can take it.”– Bob Flynn, Manager, Cloud Services, Indiana University
As critical as GCP has become for academic institutions, aspects of the service were developed without a voice from higher education. GCP provides a powerful infrastructure, data analytics, and machine learning to free institutions from the overhead of managing infrastructure, provisioning servers and configuring networks. But “off-the-shelf,” GCP had several barriers to being adopted broadly by higher education institutions
First, GCPneeded help with elements higher education relies on upon, like security and privacy reviews, Internet2 network performance, accessibility, and special business / legal terms.
Further, today’s globally distributed scientific research requires access to data repositories from participating scientists worldwide. Data from experiments all over the world must be accessible to those who need to collaborate. Data egress fees are charges associated with data transfer and are a barrier to scientific collaboration.
For many central IT units and researchers considering the use of public clouds for their workloads, these unpredictable expenses could potentially add up to significant unfunded expenditures in data in/out charges. Particularly, for researchers, these unpredictable fees could be particularly concerning if they are making their research data available to other researchers for download (as is often required by funding agencies). If higher-than-anticipated demand for their data occurs, data egress charges would surpass their budget allocation.
Moreover, for the Internet2 member community, the idea of bandwidth-based charges runs counter to the two decades of investment in building a high-capacity, high-performance R&E network. The Internet2 Network is designed to maintain a sufficiently high level of capacity such that data transport by researchers and internet developers are never constrained by the cost of bandwidth or contention for capacity. So, for Internet2 members, data egress charges were viewed as an impediment to the effective use of cloud services–which are key to developing new applications and workflows that can advance science and scholarship.
The research and education community created Internet2 NET+ to apply a proven community model and leverage collective strength in the development and procurement of cloud services and platforms that serve research and education’s unique needs.
In 2017, peers encouraged GCP to enter the Internet2 NET+ Service Validation process–the rigorous, community-led evaluation that works with industry cloud providers to customize and enhance services for higher education institutions and the extended community. Michigan State University, along with eight other universities evaluated and validated a number of aspects of the GCP offering, with a special eye to addressing the barriers to adoption and developing capabilities specific to the needs of the research and education community. Through the service validation process, GCP worked with the universities to make many important enhancements to their service.
Through testing more than 20 different use cases common to cloud infrastructure the team validated individual service functionality (e.g., deploying Kubernetes clusters, or BigQuery) to the meta-context of how do you structure projects, network, security, and logging to make GCP available to a campus with tens of thousands of users and hundreds of thousands of projects. Cloud infrastructure also has a high degree of complexity in managing costs, funding, and charges. All of these aspects had to be considered when validating and documenting the services.
In 2019, an official service offering was made available through Internet2 NET+ that provided a pre-negotiated, custom contract designed to address the data egress barriers and to provide security, privacy, and accessibility reviews, InCommon identity management integration, Internet2 network performance optimizations, and business/legal terms tailored to the needs of academic institutions.
Also, Google worked with Internet2 and regional infrastructure partners to provide private peering services and direct access to GCP Dedicated Interconnect through the Internet2 Cloud Connect service. Regional and state networks and subscribers to NET+ GCP gain access to over 300 gigabits per second of private peering capabilities with Google Cloud through the Internet2 Network, in addition to resilient national interconnects for private GCP Dedicated Interconnect.
Further, the impediments caused by data egress fees have been resolved. GCP now provides a data egress discount that reduces charges associated with outbound data originating from GCP by up to 15% of an institution’s total monthly spending. For example, if a campus spends $10,000 on Google Cloud Platform in a given month, and $1,500 of that spend is in data egress charges, the campus will only pay $8,500, effectively waiving all egress fees. GCP billing accounts are eligible for the data egress discount if they are registered with the campus and use Internet2 connectivity, Internet2 Connector network, direct peering with Google, or Dedicated Interconnect(s) to route at least 80% of GCP traffic, and use GCP for research and education workloads.
Now, university infrastructures can better support and advance scholarship and collaborative science. Institutions can more easily adopt, access, and use the resilient, secure, community-enabled GCP service — helping to free institutions from the overhead of managing infrastructure, provisioning servers, and configuring networks with the powerful infrastructure, data analytics, and machine learning solution.
Researchers can more predictably and reliably use public clouds for their workloads and make their data available to other researchers without fears that data egress charges would surpass their budget allocation, and enabling greater collaboration to accelerate scientific breakthroughs.
“This is an important milestone for our community. It helps us continue to support our students, faculty, and researchers by providing the technological resources they’ve come to rely on in their everyday work, without the burden of unexpected budget overruns.” — Brendan Guenther, Director for Academic Technology, Michigan State University
Through the unified voice and collaboration of Internet2 members, GCP has now been integrated with capabilities that mirror the fundamental philosophies of the Internet2 community and cyberinfrastructure: high-capacity, high-performance connectivity that never constrains research and development collaboration.
Together, these efforts and solutions are a testament of how the research and education community is able to work together with industry to solve shared technology challenges and provide new platforms to develop applications and workflows that can advance science and scholarship.
Key Aspects of the NET+ GCP offering include:
- GCP Data egress discount for research and education members of Internet2–helping to address egress cost concerns of central IT teams modeling hybrid environments, where data can move between some workloads in the cloud and others remaining on-premise.
- Free deployment and training for Internet2 higher education members
- Provisions addressing compliance with key regulations and standards, including FERPA and SOC2, among others
- Completion of the Higher Education Cloud Vendor Assessment Toolkit (HECVAT) for both GCP and G Suite–ensuring compliance with industry standards and detail authentication, data encryption methods, disaster recovery plans, and demonstrating a commitment to transparency and documenting the strict security protocols built into the infrastructure.
- Community-based pricing discount
- The ability of a campus to use their own authorized software reseller to acquire the NET+ GCP offering
- Free Orbitera cloud billing reporting and analytics, and Business Associates Agreement (BAA) via Carahsoft, a leading IT solutions provider
About the NET+ GCP Program and Early Adopter Team
The NET+ GCP program is managed by an Internet2 program manager with the support of the NET+ GCP Early Adopter Team. The NET+ GCP Early Adopter Team reviews and prioritizes community feature requests on a periodic basis. Feature requests may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and the Team can be contacted at email@example.com
Carahsoft Technology Corp. is The Trusted Government IT Solutions Provider®. As a top-performing GSA Schedule and SEWP contract holder, Carahsoft serves as the Master Government Aggregator™ for many of its best-of-breed technology vendors, supporting an extensive ecosystem of manufacturers, value-added resellers, system integrators and consulting partners committed to helping government agencies select and implement the best solution at the best possible value.