The NREN Futures study is a sub-study of the ASPIRE project and was set up to look at the current state of NRENs in Europe. From this, recommendations can be made as to how the NRENs should develop to take advantage of developments in technology and business practice in the next five to ten years.

The study used a variety of methods: questionnaires, surveys, interviews and the expertise of the panel members, to collect and analyse the current status, and then to predict how the NREN environment is likely to change in the future. A remarkably consistent view of future developments emerged from the different parts of the study and a range of recommendations and findings are detailed in the study. Because the state of development of the NRENs differs widely, the list of recommendations will be applicable to individual NRENs in different ways and should be adapted and adopted by the NRENs, as they deem appropriate.

The recommendations are:
›› The European Research and Education (R&E) Networking Community (NRENs, DANTE, TERENA, and user stakeholders) need an efficient, strategic management body to act as a single point of contact, capable of responding quickly and with authority.

›› Under the auspices of this body, a high-level task force should be created in which decision-makers can work together to define a single, strategic vision for pan-European R&E Networking. Failure to achieve this may lead to fragmentation of services.

›› NRENs should re-consider their funding models and move to more diversified and sustainable models.
 This could embrace close collaboration with Public Service Networks but may require re-framing of some regulatory positions, connection policies, and acceptable use policies. A major goal should be to increase inter-institutional collaboration, aggregation of demand for joint procurement, and sharing of services.
›› NRENs will need to take a strategic approach to their business planning and delivery of services, and develop a comprehensive understanding of their own user-base, including the needs of their international users and the external operating environment.
›› It is recommended that a European user-requirements compendium be developed by TERENA so that the R&E network providers have a strategic view of the demand-side of the sector.
›› NRENs should not compete with the commercial providers, particularly on price, but should act as a trusted broker that is an integral part of the community. They should provide expertise, aggregate demand, and add value through negotiation, including the integration of support for community AAI systems.

Read the full "The Future Roles of NRENs"study