Experience Article in View From The Edge Magazine

In 2001 a vision was created and funded by the New Jersey Presidents Council of Higher Education that established a high-performance network to support statewide research, education, and economic development. Twenty years later, that vision has resulted in Edge (NJ Edge.Net, Inc.), a national model of excellence for research and education networking and computing. As the need for affordable access to research and education networks continues, network connectivity and capacity remains the crucial element in multiple technologies, such as cloud-scale computing, forming the connective tissue among users, technology stacks, applications, and data. More than ever before in today’s cloud-based computing architecture, the need for secure, high-bandwidth computing experiences permeates the education, research, healthcare, and government landscape. At the same time, the cost of connecting to the Edge regional backbone currently is determined by a constantly changing amalgamation of providers and represents the single largest variable in the overall cost of providing scalable, secure, high-performance bandwidth to institutions of higher education and other stakeholders who rely on the Edge network.

As a result, institutions and organizations struggle to control the cost of infrastructure as the need for increased bandwidth and network services continues. The EdgeConnectNJ project involves a strategy for investment in our digital future that eliminates the vagaries and uncertainties of the chaotic marketplace for bandwidth as we chart our path forward.  The solution involves installation of “dark fiber” to each institutional location that is owned and managed as a part of the Edge network, thus minimizing the variable costs associated with leasing fiber optic pathways to connect to the Edge regional network backbone. Installing dark fiber connections to each anchor institution would change the economic drivers from variable costs to fixed costs, and thus allow for a controllable, budget-friendly network service for decades to come.

Why Edge is Positioned to Lead This Initiative
Edge, incorporated in the State of New Jersey as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been in operation since 2001. The core commodity wide-area network services provided by Edge to its consumers in higher education, healthcare, and government include bandwidth, Internet and Internet2 access, other technology solutions, and managed services. From its early inception at the turn of the century, Edge has continually served its members through an evolving mission to provide essential broadband network services and opportunities to leverage economies of scale to higher education institutions in New Jersey and beyond.

From the outset, the undertaking was predicated on the assumption that broadband connectivity is a utility that is critical to carry out the core missions of the higher education, K-12, healthcare, and government communities. Working with strategic partners in 2003, Edge established a state-of-the-art network through a partnership with Verizon. Today, Edge provides statewide and regional connectivity through our high-performance optical network, offers “above net” technology solutions and services, and serves as a government authorized purchasing agent for consortium buying and distribution. As a result, Edge is well positioned to complete the original vision by accommodating the needs of higher education institutions and other technology dependent stakeholders with permanent, affordable last mile connections to the Edge optical fiber regional network backbone. EdgeConnectNJ will bring statewide and regional value through advancement of technology infrastructure in such a manner that purpose-built networking can support collaborative work among government, education, research, and business entities.

Edge’s Mission
As the region’s nonprofit technology partner, Edge serves and enables its education, research, healthcare, public and non-profit service members, collaborating partners, and subscribing patrons by providing statewide advanced networking, access to technology solutions and services, and expertise in information technology.  Leveraging its high-performance optical network, Edge connects members, establishes standards for interoperability, fosters innovative solutions and the use of new and emerging technologies, and builds and supports a thriving community. Membership value is achieved through economies of scale, support for teaching, learning and research, convening communities of interest, collaborative events, and member success through learning and professional advancement.

Edge’s Vision as Your Trusted Partner
Edge is committed to remain a national model of excellence in research and education networking, and continually advance the technology agenda in New Jersey and beyond by creating and sustaining a healthy, vibrant, and thriving technology ecosystem and community. With a focus on membership advantage through collective impact and common good, Edge provides technology thought-leadership, infrastructure, and opportunities for professional collaboration and growth. As a premiere research and education network, Edge continually strives to enhance economic development in the state through regional growth and expansion of a resilient high-performance network, technology products, and professional services that best meet the current and future needs of its members, collaborating partners, and subscribing patrons.

Learn more about connecting New Jersey to a digital future, by visiting EdgeConnectNJ.net.