Aspiring to innovate

The SWITCH environment is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Along with the ongoing development of the Foundation, innovation was a particular focus in the reporting year.

Text: Peter KofmelAndreas Dudler, published on 15.06.2020

This year, the Foundation Council adopted the new strategic principles that lend substance to key topics, forming both the foundation and the framework for SWITCH’s long-term development. One of these topics was innovation. SWITCH offered a contemporary vision that succinctly summarises the purpose of the Foundation: ‘We are a competent and trusted partner for digitalisation issues that jointly concern the education, research and innovation community in Switzerland’.

Innovation

Innovation is thus a fundamental prerequisite for achieving our vision. It means sustainably guaranteeing added value for our stakeholders by improving our existing services and creating new ones. Innovation features in almost every area of our business.

One current example of how SWITCH is creating new services is the research data connectome. Here, we are working with various stakeholders who share our vision of shared research data that is widely available and integrally usable. To flesh out this vision, we began by launching two SWITCH Innovation Labs, for which we contracted selected external partners to address future-oriented issues. This agile approach means we’re quickly achieving tangible results.

SWITCH is also continually improving in networks, IT security and identity management – its areas of key competence.

Networks

To meet the growing requirements relating to SWITCHlan (the high-performance network), we’re continuously making progress in three respects: high power reserves, a very stable fibre-optic network and an outstanding team with sustainable expertise.

SWITCHlan has been networking the ERI community in Switzerland with all other research networks around the globe for 30 years. Moving beyond mere data transmission, we’re now enabling researchers to make innovative use of the network, including delivery of a highly accurate frequency from METAS in Bern to research laboratories at the University of Basel and ETH Zurich.

IT security

SWITCH has always protected Swiss universities from cyberattacks. SWITCH-CERT has continuously expanded its expert knowledge acquired from decades of operating the high-performance network SWITCHlan, the CERT for Swiss banks and its domain registry.

Both the Internet of Things and operational technology have made lasting changes to our risk landscape, which is why SWITCH-CERT is developing new skills in these fields too. Swiss municipal utilities and Swisspower, for example, have formed an alliance with SWITCH to ensure optimum protection against power failures caused by hacking attacks. This unique combination of specialist knowledge will now allow SWITCH-CERT to offer universities even greater protection against cyberattacks. 

Identity management

The first few universities successfully migrated to the SWITCH edu-ID this year. The University of Lucerne was the first to take the plunge, followed by the Swiss Distance Learning University, the University of St. Gallen and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. This means that more than 150,000 university staff members are benefiting from a user-centric identity that remains valid for life.

Once again, the successful 2019 financial year wouldn’t have been possible without our highly dedicated SWITCH employees. Working in close collaboration with our partners in the ERI community and beyond, it is they who have created all this sustainable added value for the benefit of our service customers. We would therefore like to express our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of them.

Online version

View the complete annual report 2019 online in German, French and English.

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