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04
Oct.
2022

Cloud

Kion Checks the Top Boxes

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By Bob Flynn - Internet2 Program Manager, Cloud Infrastructure & Platform Services

Internet2 Releases New NET+ Service

The Internet2 NET+ team is excited to announce the release of NET+ Kion, one of the leading cloud enablement solution providers. In response to calls from the research and education community for account automation, cost management, and security monitoring tools for cloud enablement across AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, Internet2 is partnering with Kion.

A dozen member institutions worked hard throughout the summer to vet the service, and the result of their efforts is a solid addition to the NET+ service portfolio. We encourage you to join us for a webinar, NET+ Kion Service Evaluation and Release, on October 18 at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET to explore this new offering. 

We’re excited for you to hear from your peers about the work they did and what they found. The webinar will feature the leads of the NET+ Kion Service Evaluation working groups. They will talk about their teams, tasks, findings, and the follow-up items they are asking Kion to add to their roadmap. Naturally, you will also hear from Kion, as its representatives outline the pricing and terms of the agreement. Then we’ll open the floor for questions. We hope you’ll join us!

Before You Attend the Webinar
If you are new to Kion and would like an in-depth, higher-ed-focused demo of the service, please make time to watch the recording of our January webinar.

How We Got Here – a Study of the Community in Action

Last year, during the, well, During Times, I launched a series of blog posts to stir discussion about the state of cloud infrastructure in higher education. I was, and continue to be, interested in the gaps in the tooling needed to manage, monitor, and maintain robust and secure cloud environments with minimum effort and maximum impact. Simply put, what are we missing to help us get a secure, efficient cloud environment into the hands of users that lets them get their work done while leaving cloud teams enough time to get theirs done?

I put together a brief survey to ask the higher ed cloud community to spell out your most pressing needs around infrastructure and platform services (IPS). You responded with great stuff! Some respondents called out specific tools they would like to see brought into the NET+ portfolio. One tool that was specifically name-checked by multiple respondents, was cloudtamer.io. Cloudtamer, renamed Kion in November 2021, lists as the three pillars of its product – Automation & Orchestration, Financial Management, and Continuous Compliance. Those map neatly onto three of the top needs expressed by the community in the survey.

NET+ Kion Service Evaluation

Following the survey, I spoke with a number of community members and learned there was enough interest in Kion to set up a webinar to demo and discuss the service. In January Internet2 hosted the Kion Cloud Management Overview for Higher Education webinar. We had a triple-digit turnout for the webinar and probably the most engaged audience I’ve seen in a webinar since the dawn of Zoom. If you haven’t seen Kion in action, I recommend you check out the demo given in the webinar by Randy Shore, long-time higher-ed IT professional who is now at Kion.

We followed up the webinar with a community interest survey, and the response was strong, not only for seeing Kion become a part of the NET+ portfolio but also for schools volunteering to be a part of the service evaluation. I’ve been involved with NET+ service evaluations since they began in 2011, and I’ve never seen so many schools volunteer their brain power and sweat equity to put in the work to not only satisfy their own curiosity and due diligence but to save the rest of the community that effort. 

Register for the NET+ Kion Service Evaluation and Release webinar now.

Rick Rhoades, cloud service manager, The Pennsylvania State University and sponsor of the NET+ Kion service, puts it this way, “Internet2’s NET+ service evaluations really show the tremendous value that can be realized when we leverage the entire higher education community. We are excited to be one of 12 institutions that participated and evaluated many key concerns from institutions today, like accessibility, security and compliance, and favorable contract terms. The relationships that are formed through this community-driven process lay the foundation for institutions to successfully meet their needs together, now and for years to come.” 

It’s worth taking a moment to point out a core NET+ tenant to anyone new to Internet2 or to the Internet2 NET+ program. The community drives the demand for services. The community decides where the NET+ team spends its time. The community decides what becomes a NET+ service. We are contacted all the time by vendors looking for an entry into the higher ed community, looking to become a NET+ service provider. We have a path, in the Internet2 Cloud Scorecard, for vendors to introduce themselves to the community. In the NET+ program, however, the community calls the tune. If a vendor or product generates enough community demand, then a potential NET+ service conversation begins. 

The NET+ service evaluation process for Kion is now complete. You can read the reports of each working group on the NET+ Kion program wiki. In addition to the accessibility, functional, identity, and security testing the group put Kion through, there were vigorous negotiations about the pricing model to help Kion understand the many ways that higher education operates and to meet it on its varied cloud adoption paths. These negotiations resulted in a simplified pricing model that is much more accessible to higher education than Kion’s commercial rates.

Community Impact

Some institutions are ready to get started using Kion and are just waiting for the NET+ Kion agreement to be finalized. Others couldn’t wait and have signed agreements with Kion, but they have incorporated successor language that allows them to shift to NET+ when that agreement  is completed. Others are waiting for the results of the service evaluation to leverage the work and insights of their peers.

For John Bailey, assistant director for cloud services at Washington University in St. Louis, the timing of the NET+ Kion release works well. “We are going to be evaluating cloud security configuration management tools in the near future. The goal here will be to have one security dashboard to use for visibility and control of all WashU AWS accounts, Azure subscriptions, and Google Cloud projects. It’s a tall order. Kion is an intriguing player in this space. The work our peers have done putting Kion through the NET+ service validation process will likely save us a tremendous amount of time evaluating that option as well as provide a benchmark we can judge alternatives against.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Internet2 NET+ service portfolio represents a pretty exclusive club. They have been requested by you, vetted by you, and their development of tools and processes are often, driven to be more friendly to research and education because of you. In a sense, they are the chosen ones. 

I started this journey last year by calling for your needs in the IPS space. You responded. You asked. We delivered. Call and response. Let’s do it again. Reach out to me at bflynn@internet2.edu to tell me what’s next.

Register for the NET+ Kion Service Evaluation and Release webinar now.

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