History of an R&E Network that Shaped California’s Future
CENIC operates CalREN, one of the world’s most powerful research and education networks. CENIC provides cost-effective, high-bandwidth networking capacity and connectivity to support research and education conducted by its members: the University of California System, the California State University System, California Community Colleges, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and California’s public K-12 schools and libraries, along with affiliated educational, governmental, medical research, and cultural institutions throughout the state. CENIC serves shared long-term public goals of technological innovation, democratic vitality, and opportunity for the next generation, connecting California to the world through its high-speed 100-gigabit network.
Twenty-some years ago, the CENIC we know today would have been difficult to imagine. Certainly, its founders had little idea that the network they created to link California’s higher education institutions would become the powerhouse it is today.
“CENIC has more than fulfilled the promise of its impact for research and education,” said Stuart Lynn, CENIC’s first CEO. “It’s been brilliant, due to the work of all my successors.”
To mark its 20th anniversary, CENIC released a video that tells the story of early challenges and captures interviews with the four leaders in its history — M. Stuart Lynn, Tom West, Jim Dolgonas, and Louis Fox. In addition, CENIC produced a written history of its founding to capture the memories of it founders and document the true pioneering nature of its beginnings.
It’s easy to forget that the network connections we take for granted now simply did not exist in the mid-1990s. What began as an effort to bring Internet connectivity to a small group of higher education institutions is today a high-speed, high-capacity network with thousands of 1 Gbps to 100 Gbps connections that have transformed the delivery of education throughout the state and increased the value of research collaborations that depend on the global exchange of big data. CENIC connects more than 10,000 research and education institutions in California to peers around the world, with an estimated 20 million Californians using CENIC’s services.