Valentino Cavalli

Chairman of the Board of  Trustees

Valentino Cavalli is chair of the board since the start of the Vietsch Foundation in 2014.  He is an experienced leader in IT, computer networking technologies and policies, project management and acquisition. His management skills include strategy and policy development, business and administration. He has an extensive network of relations with partners internationally.

Valentino graduated in philosophy from the University of Urbino in Italy in 1987. With interests in logic programming and Artificial Intelligence, he followed post-graduation studies after which, in 1989, he started working as software analyst and project manager for Omega Generation, an IT start-up.

Valentino moved to the Netherlands in 1999, where he worked for the Trans European Research and Education Networking Association (TERENA, later GÉANT). He was hired by Karel Vietsch initially as Project Development Officer. After a few years working on Research and Development projects he became Chief Technical Officer and later succeeded Karel as general manager of the Association, a function he retained until he left the organisation in 2016. Valentino has served as Open Science officer at LIBER the European Association of Research Libraries and as Strategy and Innovation Officer at EGI.eu.


Andrew Cormack

Former Member of the Board of   Trustees 2016-2023

Andrew Cormack was Chief Regulatory Adviser for Jisc Technologies, the operator of the UK’s National Research and Education Network, Janet.

Andrew graduated in Mathematics from Cambridge University in 1984. As a life-long distance learner, he has also obtained degrees in law and humanities from the Open University and a Masters in Computer and Communications Law from Queen Mary, University of London (2015). He worked for Plessey Telecommunications, the Natural Environment Research Council’s Research Vessel Services, and Cardiff University, before being appointed head of Janet-CERT in 1999. He was a member of the Permanent Stakeholders’ Group of ENISA for ten years, and chair of the Funding Council of the Internet Watch Foundation from 2009-2013.

Andrew passed away on 13 April 2023, leaving a huge void in the Vietsch Foundation and will be sorely missed.


Antoinette Vietsch

Treasurer of the Board of  Trustees

Antoinette Vietsch is owner and director of AVI research and consultancy since 2010.

Antoinette graduated in 1983 from Delft University of Technology as an architect. She got her PhD at Eindhoven University of Technology in 1987. She worked for Eindhoven University of Technology, Medical Architecture Research Unit in London, National Board for Health Institutes (Bouwcollege) and Twynstra Gudde consultancy in the Netherlands. She also was a member of the Council for mail and telecommunication (Raad van Advies voor Post en Telecommunicatie) in the Netherlands (1991-1996). From 2002 to 2010 she was a Member of the Dutch Parliament.


EduVPN Programme

Funded in 2017

– eduVPN is an initiative to make VPN technology commonly available, by building better and more user-friendly tools.

We live in a society that wants to be online whenever possible, and WiFi is popular technology for achieving this. Unlike the “home” situation which could be described as a trusted network, we also make heavy use of public offerings of WiFi, which we describe as guest networks, and which are in a special position that could make them perform a number of rogue attacks on our connections.

A number of dangers of using WiFi on such guest networks has been identified, and methods of running a trusted network over such potentially rogue connections have been devised. EduVPN is an implementation of such facilities which was originally designed with educational institutions as an audience.

 


John Dyer

Secretary of the Board of Trustees

John Dyer has worked in the field of networking for the Research and Education community since 1986. During this time he worked for the Joint Network Team, UKERNA and JANET the UK research and education network.

In 1999 he moved to the Trans-European Research & Education Networking Association (TERENA) where he held the posts of Chief Technical Officer and Business & Technology Strategist based in Amsterdam. John remained with the organisation after it was subsumed into the GÉANT Association until he left the organisation at the end of March 2016.

John studied Physical Sciences at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) where he was awarded a BSc with First Class Honours. His Final Year Project was in the area of Nuclear Science with a particular emphasis on automation of data capture and handling techniques.

He successfully completed a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) during 2001


Searsia Project

Funded in 2017

– Searsia is an open source engine and a protocol, created by academic researchers. The Searsia software is open source and available from the Searsia project website.

Searsia provides the means to create a personal, private, and configurable search engine, that combines search results freely from a very large number of sources. Searsia enables existing sources to cooperate such that they together provide a search service that resembles today’s large search engines. In addition to using external services at will, you can also use it to integrate whatever private information from within your organisation – so your users or community can use a single search engine to serve their needs.

Using Searsia you can :

* Manage and share large collections of independent sources;
* Select for each query the most relevant sources;
* Combine sources in an aggregated search interface;
* Searsia learns over time what kind of information each source provides.

To see it in action check the search engine of the University of Twente that combines the results of about 30 sources, including results from Google’s web crawl, from Courses, from News, the Telephone directory, the Timetables, as well as results from social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Flickr.


“Research and Higher Education Technology Fund” kick-started

The Netherlands based Vietsch Foundation (www.vietsch-foundation.org) makes the first donation to the “Research and Higher Education Technology Fund”. The new thematic fund is managed by the NLnet foundation, a public benefit organisation established in 1997 with the mission to promote the exchange of electronic information. As a framework for this initiative, the two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding collaboration possibilities.



Vietsch Foundation and NLnet cooperation

Amsterdam, September 2016, the Netherlands based Vietsch Foundation (www.vietsch-foundation.org) makes the first donation to the “Research and Higher Education Technology Fund”. The new thematic fund is managed by the NLnet foundation, a public benefit organisation established in 1997 with the mission to promote the exchange of electronic information. As a framework for this initiative, the two organisations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding collaboration possibilities.

“Our mission is to promote research and development of advanced Internet technology, services, processes for scientific research and higher education”, states Valentino Cavalli, chairman of the Board of the Vietsch Foundation. “and NLnet has the same goals but for the entire Internet community, so the collaboration is quite a natural match. The broad experience in supporting open source projects related to network technology and the extensive network built by the NLnet Foundation over decades extends our own operational capabilities. And of course we hope that our example will inspire others to contribute to the Research and Higher Education Technology Fund, because it really delivers a lot of value for money.”

“The NLnet Foundation has a long history in supporting projects around the world that contribute to a free, secure and robust Internet”, adds Marc Gauw, chairman of the Board of NLnet. “There is an overwhelming need for the type of small-scale funding NLnet provides, clearly also from the Research and Education networking community. Contrary to popular expectations (and perhaps commons sense) there is only very limited funding available for independent contributions in the area of Internet infrastructure. So important and urgent projects actually struggle to get funded, which is a loss for everybody. Through the launching of the new fund and the contribution of the Vietsch Foundation, we are now able to select and support additional project proposals – which is of course wonderful”.

The Vietsch Foundation was created by an endowment from the late dr. W. Karel Vietsch, who was the Secretary General of TERENA, the Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association. “Karel was very involved in the Internet community”, says dr. ir. Antoinette Vietsch, member of the Board of the Vietsch Foundation. He spent a large part of his life working in the area of research and education networking, which he helped to develop with his energy, creativity and thorough methodical approach. Through the projects supported by the Vietsch Foundation and now the Research and Higher Education Technology Fund his mission to support people and new developments continues after his unfortunate death.”

The fund is already operational. Proposals can be sent through the website of NLnet, at https://nlnet.nl. The next deadline for submission is October 1st 2016.


2016 medal of honour awared to Jan Gruntorád at TNC16

Jan Gruntorád, Director of CESNET, the association operating the Czech Republic’s national e-infrastructure of the same name, was awarded the medal of honour of the Vietsch Foundation. The medal is awarded annually to people who have made a contribution of lasting value to the research and development of advanced Internet technology aimed to support science, research and higher education. Jan Gruntorád received the medal in Prague on 13 June, during the TNC16 conference, the largest European research and education networking event, organised by GÉANT, the association of European national research and education networks, and hosted this year by CESNET.


Medal award 2016

Jan Gruntorád, Director of CESNET, the association operating the Czech Republic’s national e-infrastructure of the same name, was awarded the medal of honour of the Vietsch Foundation. The medal is awarded annually to people who have made a contribution of lasting value to the research and development of advanced Internet technology aimed to support science, research and higher education. Jan Gruntorád received the medal in Prague on 13 June, during the TNC16 conference, the largest European research and education networking event, organised by GÉANT, the association of European national research and education networks, and hosted this year by CESNET.

Jan Gruntorád holds Dipl. Ing. (1975) and Ph.D. (1989) degrees from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague. Upon graduating from the University he took a job at the University Regional Computing Centre (URCC) in Prague. In 1986 he became the head of the Data Communication and Computer Networking department of the URCC.

In those early days, Jan Gruntorád was a member of a limited set of people that grasped the importance of the Internet and its potential for research and education. After political changes in 1989 he initiated the connection of Czechoslovakia to the European Academic and Research Network – EARN and in May 1990 he became the national director of EARN for Czechoslovakia and was responsible for setting up the EARN network in all of Czechoslovakia.

From 1992 he was responsible for establishment of the first Internet type network in the Czech Republic – CESNET. He received an award from the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic for the Project and Realization of the CESNET Network.

Jan Gruntorád was a key person involved in establishment of the new legal body CESNET, Association of Legal Entities, in March 1996. He was elected Managing Director of CESNET and member of the Board of Directors of CESNET and he has remained in these positions up to now.

In the period of 1998 to 2003, Jan Gruntorád was the Chairman of the CEENET (Central and Eastern European Network Association) and for more than five years he served as a consultant for NATO in the field of computer networks for the R&D community in the area of the Caucasus and was involved in establishing an IP network for the R&D community in Azerbaijan. For a period of six years Jan Gruntorád served on the Board of Directors of DANTE, a UK-based company responsible for establishment and operation of the pan-European network for the Research and Educationa community GÉANT and for several years he was a member of the Executive Committee of GÉANT projects. Since 2010 Jan Gruntorád has been responsible for creation and operation of the e-Infrastructure for Research, Development and Infrastructures in the Czech Republic, which consists of computer networks, grids, clouds, storage services and provisioning tools for collaboration. He also chaired the Working Group responsible for creation and updating of the Informatics/e-Infrastructures section of the Roadmap for Large Research, Development and Innovation Infrastructures in the Czech Republic. Jan Gruntorád represents the Czech Republic in the European e-IRG (e-Infrastructure Reflection Group). The Trustees of the Vietsch Foundation were unanimous in their choice this year. “Now that CESNET is celebrating its 20th anniversary under the leadership of Jan Gruntorád, it is only appropriate that his efforts get recognition at the international level as well,” adds Valentino Cavalli.


FedLab Test Harness

Funded in 2016

– Federated Identity Management (FIM) is being used increasingly for different Internet applications, including web and mobile. The demand for cross-organizational collaboration and the proliferation of cloud applications is driving the demand to federate identities. To support FIM there are two main protocols established: SAML and OAUTH2/OIDC, with SAML being used in the majority of use cases for cross-organizational collaboration.

Interoperability between products for FIM, in particular commercial offerings, is still an issue 11 years after the SAML V2 standard was published. Many products lack conformance to the SAML profiles used in federations, leading to extra effort in the integration process. While standards and specifications are available, implementations frequently do not follow these.

There are no comprehensive testing suites available that would provide the metrics to get better. The GÉANT project had funded initial efforts to remedy this situation, which resulted in a proof of concept implementation of a SAML2 test tool, published at Federation Labs (www.fed-lab.org). In the meantime, related test suites have been developed for OIDC has just been initiated.

This project is underway to take FedLab from its current status as a research project and bring it towards service operation. This phase will focus on making a comprehensive test suite available at Federation Labs, which features an improved architecture that will allow improved flexibility in test configurations and easier to use for deployers. It shall establish a community process by being open source, allowing users to contribute and improve test cases and profiles.

As a result, we expect to improve the conformance of products to increase and show clearly where products are failing to meet the profile. Improvements will trickle down in implementations and make federation integration quicker and cheaper. For the end user, access to external resources without giving up security and data protection will proliferate.


Medal award 2015

The first Vietsch Foundation medals of honour have been awarded to Andrew Cormack, Chief Regulatory Adviser at Jisc and Roland Hedberg, senior researcher at the University of Umeå in Sweden. They were honoured for outstanding contributions during their careers to the development of the Internet:

  • Andrew Cormack, for his role in advancing trust and security within the European research and education sector
  • Roland Hedberg, for his activities in the specification and development of essential components of current Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructures (AAI), a cornerstone of secure access to websites, applications and data.

The medals were presented during the closing plenary session of TNC, the major European conference on research and education networking that is organised annually by GÉANT.

About the winners

Andrew Cormack is Chief Regulatory Adviser at Jisc, a charity that provides technology services and support to UK education and research. Andrew contributed to the establishment of TF-CSIRT, the European forum for security incident response. More recently, his interest in legal matters put him in the unique position to bring together computer security and legal disciplines. Andrew was instrumental in the creation of the successful TRANSITS course on security incident response, which has trained more than 500 individuals in Europe and many more around the world, meaning the internet is a more secure place.

Roland Hedberg is a senior researcher at the University of Umeå in Sweden. Roland has played a key role in contributing his expertise from the research and education networking community to standard industry deployments of federated identity management, an essential component of AAI. He developed the OpenID Connect conformance test suite, which was adopted by the OpenID Foundation and became the de facto reference implementation. OpenID Connect is a new standard, only a year old, but it sees good traction and is rapidly becoming the protocol to use for protecting web-based application.