Cybera then and now: 25 years and counting

Reviewing Cybera’s impact on the past, present, and future of technological innovation in Alberta

Can you name the significance of 1994?

1994 was a momentous year. Nelson Mandela became the first black president of South Africa. OJ Simpson made his infamous dash from police on the Los Angeles highways. The year also ushered in such movies as the Lion King, Shawshank Redemption, and Forrest Gump. Most importantly, it also represents the genesis of Cybera as an organization.

January 11, 2019, marks the 25th anniversary of Cybera. Here are our reflections on our past accomplishments, present-day contributions, and future goals.

Foundations

The story of the National Research and Education Network begins with a group of visionaries from Canada’s university and research space realizing the need for an advanced network for academic use, and working together to make this digital infrastructure a reality.

The initial manifestation of this movement in western Canada was the Western Universities Research Consortium Network (WURCNet), which was created in January 1994. By 1999, the provinces that made up WURCNet each evolved a need for their own organizations. Alberta created the Netera Alliance, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba created their own partner network organizations. This was a period of explosive growth in the use of the internet around the world, with the number of online users growing from 147 million to 248 million between 1998 and 1999 alone — a 69% increase.

Transformation and growth

In 2007, Netera Alliance became Cybera, with a much-expanded mandate to meet the growing cyberinfrastructure needs of Alberta’s public and start-up sectors. This expanded mandate required an expanded expert staff, who soon gained respect throughout the province for their leadership and expertise in not only networking, but many of the other innovations enabled by networks and computers — including cloud computing.

Present day

Twenty-five years since it began, Cybera has grown into a provincially recognized leader in networking, cloud computing, data science, and digital advocacy.

The number speak for themselves. 

Today, Cybera’s relevance in Alberta’s education and innovation sectors is ever present. We now offer one of the fastest research networks in the province, and are branching into a broader range of services — including data science, machine learning and cybersecurity — to meet the ever-growing demands from our members and Albertans alike.

For Cybera CEO, Robin Winsor, reaching the 25-year milestone represents something special for the organization. “Our growth and success is both a testament to the hard work of our incredibly talented staff, but also to the continued support we receive from our stakeholders in the education, government, and innovation space, without which we would not be able to explore and evolve in the way we have.”

Future focus

As we look to Cybera’s future, we are excited by the new projects and initiatives that will be unveiled in the coming year, including Cybera’s next three-year strategic plan.

Join us as we celebrate our legacy, our impact and our future!  

We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary throughout the year, and will be periodically sharing stories from our fascinating history. We would love to hear from our community of members, staff alumni, and stakeholders, and gather your thoughts, stories or feedback about Cybera over the years. 

Share your story here or use the hashtag #celebrating25years on Twitter.