Frequently Asked Questions
Cybera is a not-for-profit organization responsible for overseeing the development of Alberta’s cyber-infrastructure — the advanced system of networks and computers that was created by and for university research and now supports government, educational institutions, not-for-profits, business incubators and entrepreneurs.
Cybera’s team of experts works behind the scenes to manage Alberta’s ultra-high-speed advanced research network — CyberaNet — which connects local researchers to some 100 research networks around the world.
Working with partners in the public and private sectors, Cybera is also leading ‘above the network’ projects in Alberta to pilot emerging technologies that help to build e-infrastructure to support the province’s economic growth.
Cybera is funded by a grant from the Government of Alberta, as well as through membership and network administration fees. Cybera’s members receive an annual membership invoice in March or April of each year.
We also receive additional funding to pilot and operate add-on services for specific members or sectors. These services include Peering and the Internet Buying Group, the Virtual Firewall Service, as well as more work-intensive projects. For these services, Cybera may charge additional fees to the users, or look to third-party grants for cost recovery, as needed. For the list of Cybera’s Add-On Services, see our Memberships page.
Cybera’s roots are in the Western Universities Research Consortium Network (WURCNet), formed in 1994. From this, the western provinces evolved their own Research and Education Network organizations in 1999, with Netera Alliance set up to manage and operate Alberta’s network. Netera became Cybera in 2007, with an expanded mandate to accelerate technology adoption in the province through the use of digital infrastructure.
Membership is available to any Alberta post-secondary institution, K-12 school district, public organization (such as municipalities and libraries), or organization in Alberta’s start-up incubator community.
Different Cybera services and pilot projects are available to different members, depending on their location and sector. Cybera’s membership team can discuss with you what services are available to your organization.
Class A members are typically post-secondary institutions with a significant research mandate. These members help set the direction for Cybera as voting members at its Annual General Meeting.
Class B members typically include post-secondary institutions (without a significant research mandate), as well as K-12 school boards, and public and not-for-profit organizations. These members do not vote in Cybera’s Annual General Meeting, but have access to the same services as Class A members.
Cybera’s members pay an annual fee that helps support the costs of coordinating network and ‘above the network’ services across the many jurisdictions represented by Cybera members.
Membership is divided into two categories. Each has a distinct annual fee structure.
|Type of Membership||Type of Organization||Annual Membership Fees|
|Class A||Post-secondary institutions with a significant research focus||$30,000|
|Class B||Organizations that are connected to CyberaNet with 500 or more FTE students or employees||$3,500 plus $0.50 per student/employee (whichever is greater) to a maximum of $20,000*|
|Organizations that are connected to CyberaNet with fewer than 500 FTE students or employees||$1,000 plus $0.50 per student/employee (whichever is greater)*|
* For municipality members the fees may vary.
FTE = full-time equivalent
Yes. When members join and are connected to the network, an Acceptable Use Policy is shared and signed as well. The network cannot be used for commercial gain.
Through the Internet Buying Group, Cybera aggregates internet traffic from participating member organizations and leverages this increased buying power to negotiate a reduced price for internet services for its members.
Traffic to major sites such as Google, YouTube and Facebook accounts for, on average, 50% of an organization's commercial internet use. Cybera’s Peering service offers access to these and other popular sites through a connection with the Calgary Internet Exchange and CANARIE’s Content Delivery Service, improving efficiencies in internet traffic.
You can sign up to receive only the Peering Service. It is available to not-for-profit and public sector Cybera members in Alberta based on the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students or employees of the organizations:
- Less than 1,000 FTE — $50/month
- 1,001 – 10,000 FTE — $100/month
- More than 10,001 FTE — $500/month
Cybera members who join the Internet Buying Group are automatically signed up for the Peering Service. As a member of the Internet Buying Group, all of your Internet traffic is sent to Cybera where it is split into peered traffic and commercial internet. If you are part of the Internet Buying Group, you will also receive the Peering Service provided to Cybera members.
Members in the Internet Buying Group receive a monthly invoice that reflects their portion of the group buy.
The first step is to contact: email@example.com. We will organize an introduction meeting to discuss how you can benefit from Cybera’s network and above-the-network services. This will be followed by a discussion between your network technicians and Cybera’s technical team, who will guide the process from that point onward.
Getting set up for the Internet Buying Group, Peering, or the Virtual Firewall Service takes approximately 4 - 10 weeks, depending on your connection type.
To join the Internet Buying Group, you will most likely not need any additional equipment. Instead of connecting to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you will connect to Cybera, who will in turn split your traffic and direct the commercial portion of your traffic to the ISP.
To connect to the Peering Service, you must have a router in place that is capable of splitting your internet traffic between commercial internet and the Peering Service. There are a number of routers on the market that are compatible with this service and Cybera’s technical team can help you with equipment selection.
The duration of the contract agreement is one month. You can change the amount of bandwidth each month.
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors and merits a discussion with Cybera. We are a neutral organization and can offer advice on how to optimize the efficiency of your internet access.
Even if you do not connect to our network, there may be other reasons to join Cybera, such as access to advanced technology pilots and shared services. For more information, see our Membership page.
Virtual Firewall Service
The Virtual Firewall Service is a scalable software (virtual) solution that Cybera developed for Alberta's public sector organizations (who have bandwidth traffic of less than 1.3 Gbps). It allows multiple institutions to run their own firewall from a virtual environment, doing away with the need for individual hardware setup or maintenance.
From a functionality perspective, both accomplish the same task in the same way. The user interface for the virtual firewall is exactly the same as the hardware version. The biggest differences are in the flexibility that a virtual firewall brings, as it can be moved between different regions, and in cost, as it is much less expensive to maintain.
The Virtual Firewall Service currently supports PaloAlto and FortiNet firewall solutions, both hosted on our Rapid Access Cloud. For each firewall vendor, users can choose between three different virtual machines, depending on their needs. The firewall vendors will provide you with a detailed overview of the capabilities of each offering.
** Please note that, while PaloAlto and FortiNet software were chosen for this service, Cybera remains agnostic with respect to software firewall technology.
Yes, both vendors (Palo Alto and Fortinet) provide 60 days’ evaluation licenses.
Cybera staff are currently investigating open-source options, which should further reduce costs for member organizations.
Interested organizations should contact the firewall vendor to confirm capabilities and limitations. While Cybera does not act as an agent or reseller of any firewall brands, we are always happy to share our product experiences.
The firewall vendor will give a detailed overview of the capabilities of each firewall size and will provide a recommendation for the firewall that best suits your needs. Cybera can also provide advice and general guidelines based on our experience implementing virtual firewalls with other organizations, as well as on your traffic requirements and projected growth.
The exact details will need to be determined for each individual organization. Essentially, participants divert their schools’ network traffic through the dedicated firewall, which is hosted on a virtual machine in Cybera’s Rapid Access Cloud. For more details on the steps required to join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending on the virtual machine of choice, the cost to join the Virtual Firewall Service ranges from $3,800 to $4,800 per year. This does not include applicable taxes and the cost to purchase the virtual machine from the vendors. See here for more details.
The Virtual Firewall Service is intended as a self-managed service. Cybera's role is to build and maintain the cloud environment for hosting the virtual firewall. Member organizations are still responsible for the configuration and management of their firewalls, just not the maintenance of the physical infrastructure. As such, members are free to obtain third-party services to manage their firewall just as they could if they owned a hardware firewall at their location.
Nothing. Each firewall virtual machine is hosted in its own private environment on dedicated nodes within the Rapid Access Cloud. If you need to upgrade the software or make configuration changes to your virtual machine, this work can be done during a maintenance window that is convenient to you, and without the need to coordinate with, or impact, other member organizations.
Please check Cybera’s Network Status page to verify the operational status of the network. If the management interface is not reachable or available, members should contact Cybera at 403-536-0880 or by email at email@example.com.
For general firewall configuration questions and related issues, Virtual Firewall Service members should contact their vendor.
Cybera will communicate with members regarding outages, alerts, and reminders via Revere, our network alert service. You will be added to Revere at the time of onboarding. We strongly encourage members to keep their contact information up to date on Revere. If you would like any additional persons to be alerted about potential network events, please follow the instructions contained within Revere.
The firewall vendor’s performance facilities are available to view within the firewall user interface.
Unfortunately, no. As the Virtual Firewall Service is hosted centrally, near Cybera’s core router on the Rapid Access Cloud, members need to purchase their internet from Cybera (see the Internet Buying Group for more information).
A side benefit of the Virtual Firewall Service is that each individual school/campus can be connected directly to the network, removing the need for a traditional head end and hair-pinning traffic. This results in a more resilient architecture and may lower SuperNet costs.
Cybera’s Rapid Access Cloud consists of two geographically distinct regions, hosted in Calgary and Edmonton. Currently, the switchover from one region to another is not automatic. Should it become necessary to move your instance, Cybera will contact you to initiate the procedure. See here for more details.
The Virtual Firewall Service currently supports Palo Alto and Fortinet firewall solutions. While we are looking into open-source options, we are also open to suggestions by members, and would be willing to investigate alternatives for future incorporation into the service. Please share your suggestions for firewall solutions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.