The combination of the proposed toolkit, validation Store and the service platform realises an EXTENDED multi-modal NFV DEVOPS MODEL between service developers, telecom operators and vertical industries, increasing operational efficiency, facilitating the implementation and validation of new services and accelerating the adoption of NFV technologies.
Telecommunication networks have become a critical part of any society’s infrastructure powering economic growth and social prosperity. The services supported by today’s telecommunication networks are relied upon by millions of people every day. These networks and services continue to evolve, supporting ever increasing workloads and increasing traffic and diversity of supported services. This evolution is forcing the underlying network technologies to change, increasing the level of programmability and flexibility of configuration, while reducing the overall costs related to network operations. Aligned with the 5G vision, this goes beyond a simple increase in network speed or reliability, and instead it represents a substantive shift in telecommunication technology, where the network offers unique features to each of the evolving services it supports.
Software Networks a combination of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a significant area of research and innovation. These technologies are essential to support many aspects of the anticipated functionality offered by 5G Networks. The expression “Software Networks” refer to a general paradigm shift in telecom architecture from “boxes” to “functions”, and from “protocols” to “APIs”. In parallel this shift is also driving a convergence between telecommunications and IT infrastructure, producing an IT solution which delivers carrier grade platform upon which 5G “Software Networks” are implemented.
While this essential paradigm shift is revolutionizing the telecommunications business, there also exists a large legacy in telecom operators and the suitable transition plan towards Software Networks’ operational adoption needs to be carefully demonstrated. Even at this stage before large production deployments by operators, there is an increasingly large variety of SDN and NFV solutions available from a number of vendors (and also open source initiatives), and it is necessary to provide qualification methods which allow services designed by a third party to be vetted. It is also necessary to provide a flexible service platform which can support Software Networks on a range of different operational models with different maturity levels.
Verticals, such as Manufacturing, Automotive or Media, often cope with multiple network traffic types, from broadband traffic typical of immersive media systems to small bursts of many IoT sensors in, e.g., smart factories at the network edge. This produces heterogeneous requirements for reliability, flexibility and scalability. To address these vertical requirements, network operators will need a solution which is technology agnostic and can be configured to the needs of different vertical customer segments and their services.
The 5G vision of a closer collaboration and higher accessibility to network management between operators and vertical industries will go beyond simply controlling network performance metrics, and require new approaches to network access, service platforms and supporting DevOps workflows for new services and net applications. Software networks will have to offer the possibility to share infrastructures, customize orchestrations, support multitenancy and deploy user services. Associated to network virtualization, the slicing of resources is the next step in the resource and service provision per vertical industry. The network slicing technique allows the optimal configuration of necessary resources to serve a customized vertical service. According to the NGMN Alliance, a slice is a set of network resources that supports a particular connection type with a specific way of handling the control and user planes. NGMN states that the flexibility behind the slice concept is a key enabler to create new businesses and expand the existing ones.
A multitude of services, including IoT, video streaming, mobile apps, etc., are all provided over the same network. Slicing offers an optimized network environment that can be set for each and every service, thus enhancing the overall network operational efficiency. Ericsson described the scenario in which each vertical industry will require a different configuration of requirements and parameters in the network, and each use case will require its own network slice. “Networks should be built in a flexible way so that speed, capacity and coverage can be allocated in logical slices to meet the specific demands of each use case”, the paper states. Software networks lower entry barriers of third party vendors that provide simple Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) or composed Networks Services (NSs). This implies the need to carry out a thorough testing of these services and their qualification before going for deployment on operational environments. Even more, third- party entities could also be given permission to control certain aspects of service provision over slicing via a suitable API, in order to provide tailored, vertical-specific Network Services. These may indicate respective end- to-end QoS/QoE and SLA aspects across network domains (end-to-end) keeping trust levels. Service providers and Over-The-Top (OTT) will be able to programme and combine functions (create service graphs) from compatible Store with qualified VNFs/NSs and deploy them across the points of presence across multiple network segments. The deployment and orchestration is accompanied by the necessary configuration information to fulfil the vertical user application requirements.
- Reduce the time-to-market for networked services by shortening the service development cycle and by qualifying those network services to be adopted.
- Reduce the entry barrier to 3rd party developers and support the creation and composition of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and application elements as "Network Services”.
- Enable new business opportunities with the customisation and adaptation of the network to vertical application´s requirements.
- Accelerate the NFV uptake in industry via an 'extended' DevOps model and the validation at scale of Network Service capabilities of the 5GTANGO platform in vertical show cases.
The University of Paderborn ‒ Research Group Computer Networks ‒ is mainly involved in the following work packages:
- WP2 (Pilot definition, Requirements and Architecture Design):
This work package will define use cases for the entire project that serve as the main motivation and guideline for the technologies and innovations to be developed.
- WP4 (Service Programmability):
This work package will design and implement a complete Service Development Kit (SDK) for services that accelerates development, testing, and deployment of services and network functions. The toolkit will particularly focus on validation functionality, state migration mechanisms and QoS and performance profiling functionality.
- WP5 (Service Platform & Orchestration):
This Work Package deals with the procurement, design, implementation and testing of the Service Platform and its components and features, to support the requirements and architecture defined in Work Package 2. This Service Platform shall be based on a micro-services approach, with plugins being deployed into a kernel, taking advantage of the knowledge acquired in previous H2020 5G first wave projects (i.e. SONATA, 5GEX, etc) and considering other existing open-source developments such as OSM or Open-O. This kind of architecture allows a much higher degree of modularity, scalability and flexibility, at a much more granular level.
- WP7 (Vertical Pilots development and execution):
The scope of WP7 includes the specification and implementation of the two 5GTANGO pilots, namely Smart manufacturing and Immersive Media. These two demonstrators build to illustrate the added value of the service programmability, service validation and orchestration capabilities offered by the 5GTANGO framework developed in WP3-5. Both cases will be executed following the same task structure and complementary features.