The University Record, March 13, 2000

U-M selected to participate in Early Adopters Program

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the Chief Information Officer

The University will participate with 10 other universities in an “Early Adopters Program” sponsored by the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Early Adopters will provide development and a test bed for deployment of middleware computing technologies, resulting in early implementation of important tools for campus networks, and a road map for other universities and colleges to follow in their middleware deployments.

The middleware, or middle layer, includes services such as identification, authentication, authorization, security and directory services. While invisible to users of computing networks, middleware is essential to the delivery and receipt of technology services.

The Early Adopters Program is designed to help campuses advance middleware computing technologies in preparation for the next generation of the Internet (Internet2) being developed for research and education purposes by participating universities and other supporters. UCAID, an Ann Arbor-based company, provides the organizational home for the Internet2 initiative.

“The challenge before us is to deploy an interoperable set of core middleware that meets the needs of higher education,” says Doug Van Houweling, UCAID president and CEO. “The work of the 11 campuses in the Early Adopters Program in identifying viable deployment approaches and sharing best practices is vital to reaching this goal. We are pleased that the U-M will be actively contributing to this effort.”

The Early Adopters status offers the University access to high-level technical support, an opportunity to establish national models of deployment, a forum for sharing experiences and best practices for implementation, and the ability to evaluate new tools and technologies. It also provides the University with the potential to use the tested middleware for other campus activities.

“One of the purposes for participating in the Early Adopters Program is to strengthen our infrastructure and to provide a robust and secure information technology environment for faculty, staff and students at the U-M,” says Josť-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer. “Our involvement will allow us early access to the advanced software we need to prepare the University community for a much more stable and secure computing environment. The program builds on the University’s already strong history of development of directory services, smartcard technologies and secure video conferencing.”

Universities participating in the Early Adopters Program were selected through a proposal process. They were evaluated on “the strength of the campus commitment to pursue deployment of a core middleware infrastructure, and its readiness in related technical and policy areas.” In addition to the U-M participants are Dartmouth College; Johns Hopkins University; Michigan Technological University; Tufts University; University of Hawaii; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Memphis; University of Pittsburgh; University of Southern California; and University of Tennessee, Memphis.

To learn more about the Early Adopters Program, visit the Web at www.internet2.edu/middleware.