There is a renewed focus on campus infrastructure to support research programs. Developments include: policy, technical, and economic influences that are leading to a partial re-centralization of computing functions; radically new high performance network and distributed computing technologies; a rethinking of storage functionality and economics; requirements for long-term data management, curation and preservation; and growing faculty demands for informatics support services. An additional dimension of these needs involves information and technology intensive collaborations among groups at multiple campuses (sometimes characterized as collaboratories or virtual organizations) and virtual research environments that enable such collaborations. Complementing the organizationally oriented work on e-research already described, CNI is also concerned with the institutional and cross-institutional development of technical infrastructure, with a particular focus on large-scale storage and data management (discussed in more detail earlier), and on collaboration tools and environments. Of particular concern is the persistently difficult integration of investment in national level research infrastructure and campus-level investments and approaches; we participated in the recent NSF Task Force on Campus Bridging, and are advising a new NSF-funded effort on sustainability of infrastructural software, as well as working closely with efforts such as the EDUCAUSE Advanced Core Technology Initiative (ACTI) working groups on campus cyberinfrastructure and on data, and relevant work within the Common Solutions Group.
Authentication and authorization are now established as essential infrastructure components for network-based services and have become a particularly critical need as institutions increasingly rely on site license agreements with information providers, implement online and distance education initiatives, and form consortia for resource sharing or educational initiatives. They are an essential underpinning for data sharing and data reuse. The Coalition has been supporting partners such as Internet2, EDUCAUSE and InCommon in pursuing a program to define technology approaches, standards, best practices, and policy and business issues for such inter-organizational authentication and authorization infrastructures.
CNI takes a broad view of security, integrity, and access management issues as they relate to the management of licensed resources and the stewardship and preservation of digital content. For example, federated identity management is becoming a key infrastructure component to support research using resources beyond a single campus. New technological capabilities–notably the ability for users to amass and maintain massive personal digital libraries which include large amounts of copyrighted material drawn from licensed databases–continue to raise complex questions with both technological and policy dimensions. CNI believes that we must continue to explore new behaviors and practices such as the building of workgroup or personal collections, or large-scale text and data mining that integrates published literature and public datasets with unreleased materials.