Project progress update by Neil Shewry

It’s been far too long since my last blog post. The good news is that it’s because we’ve all been really busy planning, designing and delivering new access infrastructure. The bad news (for me at least) is that excuse only lasts so long and it’s about time I took a moment to provide you all with an update.

In short:

  • The south region is well into delivery and due to complete by the end of the year
  • Ditto the south-west region
  • We’re in the process of signing contracts and placing orders for the Midlands region (east and west combined) and also London
  • We’re making some smaller interim changes in the North West; and
  • We’re planning almost everything else

But that doesn’t tell half the story! The lessons learned log is bursting at the seams with all sorts of process constraints and quirks that you only really uncover when you start doing these things. Almost every step and every interaction has contributed to a steep learning curve. Needless to say once we’ve finished the programme we might just about know how to do it all

One of the most pleasing things is the level of interest and engagement we’ve had from the community.

Change is never easy, especially when it’s imposed (as we’re doing to you), but the feedback we’ve had on our strategy and design principles has been really positive, to the point that we’ve undertaken a lot of additional engagement with institutions and regional groups to explain further precisely what we’re doing, and also to collaborate on a technical level where’s there’s been interest to help support our network design processes.

This is really great to see in terms of us making sure we have stakeholder buy-in (which I can’t stress enough the importance of), but also in enabling us to tap into local knowledge of network infrastructure ‘in the ground’ to help steer design and topology decisions. The more of that the better!

Finally we have the series of Tech 2 Tech events, the first phase of which is now coming to an end. We’ve already had great and well-attended events in Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Durham.

The Jisc-led sessions have grown into a really comprehensive run through of the Janet access programme, and the feedback we’ve had has been really positive, but the standout sessions at all events have been the member-led talks, it’s really useful to us at Jisc to hear what you’ve got to say, and having been in the room at all of the events, you seemed to learn a lot from each other too.

Next week we head to Manchester, and then to Belfast in October. After that, we’re looking to continue the series of events with a slight change of focus – more news on that as we have it. We’ve also had a webinar-based Tech 2 Tech – an online version of the physical events – which too was well attended and is something we plan to do more of as the programme progresses.

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