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OSHEAN’s 20th Anniversary

Posted By David Marble, Wednesday, October 30, 2019


As one can easily tell, I am not the most prolific blogger, but I am compelled to write this post in acknowledgement and pride of OSHEAN’s 20th anniversary.  OSHEAN’s history is a story of vision, strong execution and a wonderful membership collaborative driving its direction.  In preparation for our upcoming member event, OSHEANCon19, I located the original founding documents and was pleased to see that the program narrative in our articles of incorporation, bylaws and various regulatory submissions still hold true today, including  to “…serve the needs of RI’s K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state and federal agencies, non-profit research organizations, workforce development initiatives and economic development efforts.”


Founded in 1999 by RINET, URI and Brown and accelerated with a $100K grant from Rhode Island’s Slater Technology Fund, OSHEAN was off and running with a service architecture of one router and 30 Mbps of Internet bandwidth from UUNET.  Today, OSHEAN is proud of its network consisting of 600+ miles of private fiber, 100+ Gbps of IP, Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) core transport, 200+ nodes of packet optical networking and a highly sophisticated, secure, low latency, routed fabric.

My career started in 1983, the year that AT&T was broken up under an anti-trust case.  That event, in many people’s opinion, started the digital revolution as it opened the telecommunications market to competition and ushered in the innovations that built the Internet. As I pause to reflect on where we are in 2019, I am struck by the historical analogies of societal eras where innovation led to the discovery of processes, systems and technologies that can change the world. 


It is helpful to put into perspective just how early we still are in this new information age and the byproducts of that naiveté.  We are experiencing harsh lessons in the form of social media manipulation, privacy invasions, and cybersecurity attacks as we learn how to harness new capabilities and put them to their best use. We are making mistakes and learning the consequences of our actions just as we were once burned by fire, suffered industrial accidents and discovered that nuclear energy could either power or blow up cities. 


The fundamental idea of “harnessing” requires iterative and continuous learning, incremental improvements to minimize unintended consequences and the maturation of intended use.  One of the best parts of my job as president and CEO of OSHEAN is that I get to witness the amazing results of harnessing our technologies for the public good.  From blended learning in the K-12 classroom to the extraordinary acceleration of research disciplines, the rapid advancement of technology behind the scenes such as super-computing, cloud computing, big data systems, advanced broadband networking, machine learning and AI are fueling innovation and discovery at a pace heretofore unseen. There is also a call to society in general to pay attention to and participate in the discussions the industry is having around awareness, ethics and applications of technology in the digital transformation of our institutions.


Celebrating 20 Years of Connections that Pioneer Progress” has been the guiding phrase in the celebration of OSHEAN’s anniversary.  These “connections” can be either the network itself or between the people in our community and sphere of influence.  Our digital magazine, the eCurrent, chronicles our connections and the progress we’ve enjoyed and provided together. In this special anniversary edition of the eCurrent, readers will enjoy member perspectives, industry insights and a reflection on the past as we look toward the future; I think it should be on everyone’s reading list.


As an eternal optimist - and in the face of the negative diatribe about some of technology‘s current advancements by the media - I am both proud of that progress and energized for the future of OSHEAN and its membership.


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The Ostrich Effect

Posted By David Marble, Thursday, September 13, 2018


Since it is the time of year when students return to school, I figured it was time for me to get back to blogging.  I have spent a fair amount of time this summer listening to podcasts, something I had not done much of previously.  My musings have been in the areas of social sciences, behavior, consciousness and yes, even a bit of politics, but only as politics relate to the other subjects.  I came across a series on NPR called “The Hidden Brain” that I have found interesting.  In one episode, I immediately resonated with the subject matter as it translated directly to the IT profession and behavior borne out by statistics.  The episode was entitled “The Ostrich Effect” which as one could guess, set out to discuss the underlying behavior of humans who stick their head in the sand and avoid learning information surrounding a potentially negative topic.  They noted for example, that people check their stock portfolio more often when the market is good than when it is going down.  Repeatedly, research examples of information aversion were explored for topics like healthcare, finance and even politics.  Perceived potential for undue stress and fear are cited as the main reason people avoid gaining deeper understanding of a controversial subject.  Rational behavior would dictate the opposite approach as one of the podcast participants stated, “A person should never avoid information because information can never hurt a decision.”  Subsequent related podcasts I listened to this summer talked about the idea of knowing the information and still choosing the wrong path like when I order the lasagna instead of the salad for lunch.  There is some fascinating research being done to try and figure out why we make wrong choices even when we know the right one.


My immediate thought in listening to these discussions was the relevance to our current cybersecurity landscape.  I have heard numerous studies cited that describe the state of business cybersecurity readiness as 30% in denial, 30% active and working and the rest aware and partially in the game.  That tells me that more than half of our businesses are suffering from some form of the “Ostrich Effect”.  A common thread we hear is the lack of understanding of how to even get started and what they will find when they look!  Great tools exist for assessment and baselining from Penetration (PEN) tests to phishing analyzers to NIST framework compliance templates.  From first-hand experience and discussions with some of our members who have done the up-front analysis, you can expect to fight the after effects of removing your head from the proverbial sand.  Most, if not all, assessments will highlight numerous vulnerabilities, point out areas of improvement and set the stage to prioritize that improvement.  Some vulnerabilities will be significant and the fact that you were unaware tugs at the egos of executives and staff.  This is the crux of getting beyond the ostrich.  Our present day cyberwar is no place for emotion.  Rational behavior dictates deep knowledge of the subject matter and continuous diligence.  Once the assessments and baselining process is complete, one can move to “choosing the salad”.  For instance, when you know 80% of breaches are through password hacks, you then choose to implement a password manager instead of keeping 12345.


I do think things are getting better.  Maybe the headlines and high profile cases that are forcing the issue so I am pleased with the progress albeit it may not be for the right reason.  Fear is a strong motivator but the “Ostrich Effect” research cited above suggests rationality might be a better one.

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Internet2 Azure Express Route Service

Posted By David Marble, Thursday, March 1, 2018


Reprinted from a guest blog post at Internet2


OSHEAN, Rhode Island’s Research and Education Network (REN), is participating with Internet2 on a Proof of Concept (POC) for cloud connectivity aligning with the overall community effort to explore next generation network infrastructure. This particular POC initially focuses on the consumption model for Microsoft Azure but it is accepted that the general model will apply to other cloud providers. In my request to Internet2 for a trial, I posited that the Regionals and Internet2 play an important role in providing simplified yet robust access to the major cloud providers and that the complexities of the network infrastructure needed for cloud services are often underestimated by our members.  The role we play in simplifying, managing and even automating the configurations for network connectivity for cloud payloads is highly valuable and has proven to be an important component of OSHEAN’s current cloud offerings.

OSHEAN was the first member to take advantage of Internet2’s recent announcement of the availability of Microsoft Azure Direct Connect peering in Ashburn, VA.  With the help of Internet2 and Northern Crossroads (NoX) engineers, our network engineers were able to implement a Layer2 payload service through OSHEAN’s infrastructure and across Internet2’s AL2S service to the ExpressRoute service in Ashburn VA.  OSHEAN also established a Layer3 connection as well for comparative purpose.  We intend to compare the technical and business ability to support payloads through the R&E community versus traditional commercial methods.  It is OSHEAN’s hypothesis that the answers will show better control, performance, security, resilience and visibility of cloud payloads while lowering cost profiles for connections.  OSHEAN is currently moving to the phase of the testing whereby its PoC member partner, Brown University, will start to evaluate using this connection method for selected enterprise applications.


A second component of the PoC will introduce a technology vendor to implement SDN technology over the Internet2 backbone for Azure Express Route connectivity.  OSHEAN envisions an adaptation of SD-WAN techniques to be a potentially valuable tool to help automate and manage cloud connections. We believe that, as the technical nuances and true economics of cloud migration become better understood, members will start to send application payloads to a variety of cloud services depending on the individual technical and business considerations of the application itself.  SD-WAN, applied in a consistent method across our peering choices, will simplify/automate configuration, increase security and increase management visibility for all our members. Stay tuned!

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Posted By David Marble, Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Here is the link to my interview with GoLocalProv this past week....


It was a fun interview and I like their format and Kate did a nice job.  It was easier than writing my blog!

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Guest Blog for Internet2

Posted By David Marble, Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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