JANET(UK)

JANET(UK) is the trading name for the JNT Association, which since 1994 has had responsibility for the management of the United Kingdom’s Higher Education networking programme. It manages the operation and development of the JANET network, which links the UK’s education and research organisations to each other, as well as to the rest of the world through links to the global Internet. It does this under a Service Level Agreement from JISC.

Until 7 June 2007, the JNT Association traded as UKERNA, the United Kingdom Education and Research Network Association. The change of name was made so as to identify the company more closely with its core activity, management of JANET.

History of JANET(UK)

The histories of JANET(UK) and JANET are closely entwined. JANET came first: see the separate article on JANET for more information.

The Wells Reports

In the 1970s the UK’s Computer Board commissioned two reports from working parties led by Professor Mike Wells into the state of networking between the nation’s educational establishments. The reports recommended the setting up of a national research network that would link university computing centres. The second report concluded with a recommendation that the Computer Board and the Research Councils ‘set up a small, full-time unit to co-ordinate, guide and rationalise network development involving those bodies receiving their principal funding from the Department of Education and Science.’

The Network Unit

This small, full-time unit became the Network Unit, set up with a two-year remit from 1 November 1976 to 31 October 1978. Its three members spent those two years travelling the length and breadth of the country, visiting every one of the then 50 universities to obtain a comprehensive view of what was happening in data communications and to understand the requirements of users and service providers. The Network Unit also wrote two reports, concluding with the recommendation that ‘all network development should be carried out according to a programme formulated and supervised by a full-time Joint Network Team (JNT). The JNT would be an executive successor to the Network Unit.’

The Joint Network Team

The JNT was set up in 1979, with a small team of six people [Roland Rosner (leader), Barrie Charles, Les Clyne, Bob Cooper, Jim Craigie, Ken Heard] and a three-year remit. Unlike its predecessor it was able to fund research on networking and get involved, for example in the development of protocols and protocol implementations in software and hardware. The ultimate aim, as per the Wells reports, was still to create a national education and research network.

This was finally achieved when in 1982 the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) agreed to hand its own proprietary network, SERCnet, over to the JNT for development into a full-blown national network connecting all universities and Research Councils. The network was named JANET and came into operation in 1984.

The JNT continued to manage JANET for another 10 years, but it became clear that this was inadequate. The organisational framework that existed in 1990 was largely improvised, having been created over ten years previously to support the JNT as a relatively small collaborative networking venture between the Computer Board, the SERC and the other Research Councils. It was funded partly by the SERC (approximately 10%) and mainly by the Computer Board (approximately 90%).

Most JNT staff were on the SERC payroll, making the JNT subject to the after-effects of SERC policy, which was not always compatible with its own – for instance, if the SERC had a ceiling on hiring new employees, the JNT couldn’t have a recruitment drive. The JNT’s size and complexity were also becoming increasingly inappropriate for the current networking programme, and increasingly acting as an inhibitor to progress.

In short, the Computer Board felt that the JNT in its current form would not be sufficient to carry the programme through to the next stage in its development. It therefore agreed to the formation of an autonomous Networking Association that would replace the JNT and take responsibility for the networking programme of the UK academic community. The Network Association would be run as a company.

The Computer Board finally disappeared on 1 April 1991, transforming into the Information Systems Committee (ISC) of the Universities Funding Council. ISC’s task was to deal with networking and specialist information services. It assumed funding responsibility for JANET and oversaw the creation of the new company, the JNT Association.

The ISC transformed further under the newly created Higher Education Funding Councils into the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) on 1 April 1993.

Even though the JNT Association is a fully independent legal entity, because it is publicly funded JISC decided it should not be able to own trademarks –including its own name – that could conceivably be sold elsewhere. For this reason it was officially called the JNT Association but traded as UKERNA. This was changed to JANET(UK) on 7 June 2007.

The objects of JANET(UK)

The objects of JANET(UK) were stated in UKERNA's Memorandum of Association and included the following main clause:

"to take responsibility for the networking programme of the education, learning and research communities in the United Kingdom; and to research, develop and provide advanced electronic communication facilities for use within these communities, and to facilitate the electronic connectivity of these communities to external third parties."

JANET(UK) is an certificated company. It originally gained certification to in June 1998 and successfully upgraded to the new standard in June 2003.

External links

* [http://www.ja.net/ JANET(UK) Website]


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