Five months of intense work and a daily life that involves airports, check-ins, hotels and the packing and unpacking of luggage. It could be the tour of some singer, but it is the routine of the Executive Director of RedCLARA, the Venezuelan Luis Eliécer Cadenas. Since August 1, 2017, his first day as the regional network chairman, Cadenas has visited many of the Latin American countries and its respective national networks with a clear goal: to strengthen relations and understand the reality of each of them from close. "These were intense and positive months. For me it is very important to listen what each of our members is doing and understand its internal work logic. This will make it easier for RedCLARA to contribute to its development", says Cadenas.
The Executive Director's turn began in August, with a visit to the Chilean advanced network, REUNA, and continued with visits to RedCEDIA (Ecuador), Renata (Colombia), CUDI (Mexico), RNP (Brazil), InnovaRed (Argentina), RAU (Uruguay) and RAAP (Peru). Along with RAAP, for example, the effort is for the reactivation of the network. In these five months, Cadenas also visited countries that are not yet integrated to RedCLARA, such as Nicaragua, which has already signed an agreement for incorporation, and Bolivia, which, through its Internet Society chapter, signed in the city of La Paz, a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of the national advanced network and its subsequent integration into the regional network.
"We estimate that Bolivia will be incorporated within a peremptory term. We met with the staff of the Ministry of Telecommunications and it is generating awareness that it is necessary for the country to join the world of networks. We are also making progress in the negotiations to incorporate Panama and Honduras, so we hope that in a short time most of the Latin American countries will be members of the regional network”, explains the Director.
In Mexico, a milestone. Received by Carlos Casasús, the Director of RedCUDI and president of the Council of CLARA, Cadenas celebrated the ratification, by the Mexican Cooperation Agency, of the commitment to finance the construction of fiber rings in the capitals of Central America, that will allow connecting a substantial number of Central American universities to the network and thus significantly increase the cooperation projects between Mexican universities and research centers and Central American universities.
Other conversations established during the last five months include the possibility of agreements with SCALAC (Advanced Computing Service for Latin America and the Caribbean) and RICAP (Ibero-American High Performance Computing Network) to create a better availability of high-performance resources in the region. "We are trying to make collectively the efforts that each country makes," affirms Cadenas.
The importance of the BELLA Project
In addition to closer relations, there is another reason for Cadenas travels: strengthen the BELLA project. "This is probably the most important project that we are currently carrying out, due to the impact that the availability of fibers and resources will promote in the region and the change it brings in the structure of costs, because it will allow an economy of scale and more sustainability for the academic networks. For this reason, in all visits to our members, we try to spread the benefits of the project and understand how national networks can be allied throughout the development process”, he explains.
The initiative seeks to establish a Latin American network of high capacity, scalable and with a long term validity, that allows RedCLARA to guarantee that the academic networks of Latin America have full access to the submarine capacity that the BELLA Project is acquiring through the new submarine cable that will connect Europe and Latin America. This will be achieved by updating and integrating the optical telecommunications infrastructure that RedCLARA has in South America, transforming it into an optical network through the synergy generated among the academic networks of the region, increasing the capillarity and efficiency of the services to said communities.
"We can not talk only about connectivity, it is important that we maintain balance, understanding that BELLA is a critical project for our success as a region, but there is also much to be done. We are already moving forward in the auction processes in search of what we call of terrestrial stretches, the BELLA-T project. We expect much of this to be contracted and implemented until the beginning of 2019 and to advance the process that corresponds to the connection of the submarine cable, another important component for the increase of the capacity”, counts the Venezuelan.
According to Cadenas, the visits yield many other benefits, even if intangible. "The most important thing is that we have been able to structure a vision that seeks to find the set of interests of the networks and that becomes much easier if we are close to them. Although we have access to videoconferences and other collaboration tools, nothing replaces a personal encounter”, concludes.