Monday, November 10, 2008

US-Pakistan "official" launch and associated PR

After some discussion with various groups we decided to "declare" an official launch date for the US-Pakistan connection and release some publicity. This concludes Phase 1 of the US-Pakistan project (the network construction phase).

The political situation in Pakistan is a bit unsettled at the moment. The HEC has a new Chairman, Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman having resigned. Phase 2 of the project (development of closer scientific collaborations between US and Pakistani researchers) has been somewhat slowed. But, I am confident we will be moving ahead quickly as the HEC situation sorts itself out.

Following are pointers to the official PR released about the US-Pakistan network connection.

US Natioinal Science Foundation

Indiana University

European Commission

Monday, September 22, 2008

Network operational!!

August 14, 2008...the Research and Education network connection between the US and Pakistan becomes active...Packets are flowing across the connection.

We still have some work to do with the routing to be certain that networks in the US and in Pakistan are getting the appropriate routing information. But, this date is the unofficial end of the first phase (network construction phase) of the project. There will be an official "ribbon cutting" sometime in October between officials in the US and in Pakistan. Date TDB.

Now on to the second phase (and most important phase), encouraging and publicizing the use of the network in increasing and supporting research and education collaborations between the US and Pakistan.

Sidenote - You may have read about the terrible bombing of the Marriott in Islamabad. That was the backup hotel for me if I could not find room at the Serena. I'll take security a bit more seriously on my next visit...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Contracts signed!!!

Well, my optimism from my last post (in April!!) was a bit misplaced. It has taken until today, July 3, to get a signed contract for the circuit between Singapore and Karachi which will officially provide the Pakistan R/E connection to the US and the global research and education community.

There is no particular blame to be placed for the delay. Rather, it is probably my naive nature for not anticipating the problems in dealing with 3 sets of lawyers, a government and a university.

But, that is all history now and we have a tentative circuit delivery window of August 1-15.

I hope to have more posts with additional information about the circuit and the applications running over the circuit soon.

But, right now, I am celebrating!!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Next steps...

So, you might ask, what are the next steps for this Pakistan-US network connection...

Current status...
I think my visit to Pakistan was a success. The launch event was well-attended. The workshop following the event raised lots of good questions and encouraged discussion. I understand much more about the challenges many Pakistan universities face and how (and how not) this network connection can fit into their educational plans. The event seems to gotten publicity in Pakistan. A Google search on "nsf hec pakistan network connection" shows articles in 6 newspapers about the inauguration and workshop.

Next steps...
We hope to have the network connection up and operational about June 1. That seems quite possible. There is interest in Pakistan (and I believe in the US) in holding a joint HEC-NSF high definition video conference event between Dr. Atta and Dr. Bement to celebrate the connection actually passing traffic. In addition to the VC, we would hope to have some sort on "inaugural application" in operation over the connection between the US and Pakistan. But, those details remain to be worked out.

After the connection comes up, planning will begin for a US-Pakistan workshop on the advanced collaborative use of the connection. The workshop will highlight 3-4 application areas of current or potential collaborations and focus on the role of high performance networking between the two countries in enhancing/beginning these collaborations.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Airline delays...surely not...

Day 6 – returning home…airline delays…who would have thought

I am ready to return home!! I miss my family and I miss Bloomington. It will be a long day today (leave Islamabad 8am Friday April 12 [11pm Thursday April in Bloomington] and arrive at 9pm Friday in Indy…home in Bloomington by 11pm Friday 12-April…about a 24 hour trip….

The day began with a quick trip to the airport…but that was the only quick thing so far…airport security in Islamabad…slow and not very organized. It took 45 minutes to get from the front of the airport to the departure lounge. Not so efficient and very frustrating. Also, I had forgotten that many people are “moving” to the US or wherever and using their luggage to facilitate that…It was not unusual to see a family with 5 “bags” that must have weight 100 lbs each. What a congested nightmare…

The flight finally got off the ground about 20 minutes late. This will make my connection in London a bit tight. But, hopefully there will be no problems.

No problems….ha, ha…

My flight into London was late, so I dashed off the plane and hurried through security and passport control and on to….nothing….there was no evidence of a Northwest Airlines flight to anywhere in the Heathrow airport. Just was beginning to panic the friendly British Airways person said…”Check out the KLM transfer desk”. KLM knew what I was talking about and directed me to the correct place.

Of course, the NWA flight was late….90 minutes late departing London to be exact. So, my 120 minute connection in Minneapolis, allowing me to get home, was now 30 minutes. I got off the plane in Minneapolis at 6:30pm with 40 minutes to make my 7:10pm flight to Indianapolis. Scurry, scurry, scurry….

First stop, passport control…wonderful…no lines, I walk right up to a desk with a big smile on my face, the smiling guy behind the desk chats me up a bit and then utters the fateful phrase no one wants to hear…”Supervisor to Lane 12”. So, I got grilled about my travels to Pakistan for about 10 minutes by the supervisor. He was very friendly and I am not complaining. Good, careful security is necessary and important. But, I was really, really getting nervous about making my flight, then final one to Indianapolis that day….

Bottom line is…I did make my flight by running…last person to board…

But, that flight was delayed also…so, I arrived in Indy about 10:15pm and in Bloomington about 11:30pm….yawn…

Day 5 (Last day in Pakistan)

Day 5 (Last day in Pakistan)

I had a meeting with some staff from the US Embassy this morning. They seemed interested and helpful…but I am just a visitor and they are here permanently. So they have a different way of thinking about and viewing things…They know how slowly things can work in Pakistan and how bureaucratic things can be… probably a good counterweight to my enthusiasm….

Oddly enough, one of the Embassy employees knew Brad Wheeler from previous School of Business work together. Pretty funny to go halfway around the world and have a meeting about higher educations in Pakistan and have the first question be, “I see you are from Indiana University. Do you know Brad Wheeler?” Small world…

I had an afternoon meeting at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST). They already have some international partnership and would like to use this connection to leverage their existing relationships and create new ones. They seem well funded and committed. We will see…

I visited the Pakistan Museum of Natural History on Thursday afternoon. It was very interesting. You get a better sense of how Pakistan is really composed of a number of different peoples from South Asia (Iran, China, and Southren Russia) and how different Pakistan is culturally from south to north and east to west.

I have been feeling a little sick. Not so good given that I will be flying for 20+ hours tomorrow. I will be careful what I eat and I am sure it will be fine. I hope to sleep much of the way…

A delightful 4:30am wake-up call…and then off…