IT without borders: Our story
Once upon a time, in a valley by the Bay…
CGNET’s humble beginnings in a growing little area of Northern California known as Silicon Valley took root in 1983 with a specialized mission: Provide an email communication network to a single clientele, known as the CGIAR. The Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research Centres, sponsored jointly by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), is a consortium aimed to improve the quality and quantity of food produced in developing nations.
From our first tiny office in downtown Palo Alto, our staff conducted a pilot project to connect seven of the CGIAR’s worldwide offices with a computer-based messaging system. Utilizing an outside service for the study, Dialcom, we brought the centers online for the very first time, and the project was deemed a success. In 1985 the new network (now referred to as “the CGNET”) had grown enough where it needed administration. As the CGIAR did not want to take on this task itself, our company was formed. CGNET Services International became the headquarters for purchasing and delivering both computers and networking equipment, billing network service, and maintaining the network directory. CGNET also became responsible for training, troubleshooting and conducting consulting visits worldwide.
Growth into the 1990’s (we need more space!)
During the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s, the rest of the CGIAR centers and their regional offices had joined the CGNET. Wanting “in” on what was become a vast electronic communication network for scientists, several non-CGIAR agricultural research centers came aboard. By 1992, some 490 mailboxes were in use in 200 locations, across 61 countries. As the numbers grew, so did the services we offered, including telex, fax and links to online academic databases. With the need for a large number of servers to run this rapidly growing network, the need for a physical move to bigger digs was upon us. CGNET migrated from that tiny office in Palo Alto to a large warehouse in Menlo Park. Now there was space for more support and administrative staff, as well as for all the necessary equipment needed to run a large electronic network. CGNET moved 3 times during the 1990’s and early 2000’s to larger and larger warehouse spaces within the Menlo Park complex, needed to maintain their growing network operations.
"People everywhere who care about the world our children will inherit, people to whom lasting social justice and compassion matter more than making money, have been enriched by the achievements of CGNET and the people and organizations it serves."
Into the cloud and out of the warehouse: A shift to new services
Throughout these first two decades of the new millennium, our customer base has grown to include approximately 200 organizations in 130 countries, and we now support email for 30,000 users. All that being true, a shift from on-site servers to managing our network in the cloud has allowed us to greatly downsize our physical operations space. Now, based once again out of a small office (this time in Mountain View, CA), CGNET currently has a staff of 10 at our HQ, with additional consultants stationed at customer sites in Texas, NC, Nigeria, India, Ethiopia and South Africa. Our primary focuses are now on cloud services, IT planning and management, and cyber security assessments and training.
Our original clientele base of CGIAR centers and agricultural research organizations has grown to include:
Most of the world’s leading foundations and relief organizations, such as Mott Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Packard Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Save the Children, World Wildlife Federation, and many more.
We also serve community foundations, mid-sized foundations and NGO’s including the Oregon Community Foundation, Marin Community Foundation, Community Council of Greater Dallas, 3Stands Global, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, Aids Prevention Initiative of Nigeria, Women’s Donor Network, and many others.
CGNET’s journey has been a long one of adaptation, transition and growth. We will we continue to strive to meet and satisfy the ever-changing technology needs of our customers as we approach the end of our 4th decade of service!