Summer down under

Posted on August 28, 2019 by

Earlier this month, I took a little R&R to visit Australia – specifically Melbourne and Hobart. This is the second time I have been there, but last time it was in the middle of a drought and 40 degrees. This was winter for them and it was funny to see everyone in beanies (toques), scarves and puffy down jackets. In fairness, I did buy a jacket while I was there and there was snow at the top of Mt. Kunaynyi.

While in Australia, I wanted to take the opportunity to learn a bit more about what they were doing in higher education. Meeting people face to face leads to a much richer dialogue, especially the first time you meet them.

I had a great meeting with Chief Technology Officer David Wilde at AARNET (Australia’s National Research & Education Network), and we shared our respective approaches to information security in higher education, at the national level. AARNET would be the peer of CANARIE, but there are significant differences in funding and governance. We talked a bit about CANSSOC ( and how the universities are partnering with CANARIE and the provincial research education networks like ORION, CYBERA, BCNET and RISQ. They are taking a different approach in Australia and we are very interested in seeing how that evolves. We look forward to sharing more of our experiences with our colleagues in Australia, the UK and the US. Currently the team is trying to see if we can get a session together during the Educause meeting in Chicago this fall.

I also went to Monash University and met with a few different people. Monash has a student population similar to the University of Toronto and has multiple campuses. It is a new institution and you can see it in the design of the campus. It was very beautiful. At Monash, they have been using UNIFORUM ( for about 10 years, so it was a great opportunity to see the value they get from it and better understand what we might expect. We just finished our first collection and are anxious to see the results. Coincidently we attended an excellent Gartner session on August 22 on cost optimization and they noted that the foundation for cost optimization is transparency on financials, which is exactly what we will get from Uniforum.

We of course talked about information security, as that is on everyone’s mind and the take away for me here was how they have created a subcommittee of audit and risk of the board to deal exclusively with information security. There is always so many things to discuss in audit and risk, so making space for information security makes a lot of sense.

Monash is also an SAP school with a somewhat homegrown (consortium) solution for student. It sounds like they are in a similar spot as we are trying to assess next steps. We shared notes and hopefully we can maintain the relationship and learn from each others experiences.

Now, this was supposed to be a vacation and so it was. In terms of relaxation I did get to see the Melbourne Symphony perform with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis in Hamer Hall (the real reason I went all that way), an Aussie Rules Football game at the 100,00 seat Melbourne Cricket Ground and ate a lot of oysters and drank some very good wine. If you ever think there is a chance to go to Tasmania – GO! It is stunningly beautiful and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA is an experience that should be had. The building, and location itself is a huge part of the experience as is the wonderful Australian humour.

Thanks again to my wonderful hosts at AARNET and Monash.