23 September 2016

Softwarization Sustaining a Hyper-connected World: en route to 5G


IEEE NetSoft 2017

The 3rd IEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization

3-7 July 2017, Bologna, Italy

"Softwarization Sustaining a Hyper-connected World: en route to 5G"


The 3rd IEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization (NetSoft 2017) will be held July 3 to 7, 2017 at the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy. IEEE NetSoft is the flagship conference of the IEEE SDN Initiative which aims to address “Softwarization" of networks and systemic trends concerning the convergence of Cloud Computing, Software-Defined Networks, and Network Function Virtualization. 

*** Scope ***
The telecommunications landscape will change radically in the next few years. Pervasive ultra-broadband, programmable networks, and cost reduction of IT systems are paving the way to new services and commoditization of telecommunications infrastructure while lowering entrance barriers for new players and giving rise to new value chains.  

While this results in considerable challenges for service providers, this transformation also brings unprecedented opportunities for the Digital Society and the Digital Economy related to emerging new services and applications.  Examples include Tactile Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Cloud Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence. 5G will both exploit and accelerate this transformation. 

NetSoft 2017 aims to capture the theme of "Softwarization Sustaining a Hyper-connected World: en route to 5G" and serve as forum for researchers to discuss the latest advances in this area. 

NetSoft 2017 will feature technical paper, keynotes, tutorials, and demos and exhibits from world-leading experts representing operators, vendors, research institutes, open source projects, and academia.

22 September 2016

Softwarization goes crowd-funded on Kickstarter

I remember that a few years ago in one of my first keynote at a Conference on SDN-NFV, I argued that SDN-NFV should be dealt together as deeply intertwined with the evolution of Cloud Computing towords the Edge and Fog Computing: all of them in fact are expressions, facets of a profound transformation (softwarization) Telecommunications, and many industrial sectors, with profound socio-cultural implications (not to mention the anthropological ones).

It took a few years, but then this vision has been widely adopted and spread. A next step was to argue that there is a need to develop a new research community and innovation that combines Softwarization with 'A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), through an “Artificially Intelligent Operating System: the increase of flexibility and complexity of future Telecommunications infrastructure will determine on turn a dramatic increase in "complexity" and stringent requirements of security: in my opinion, goals reachable only by "automating operations processes" with use of Machine / Deep-processing thus really making actionable the big data of the networks.

As a matter of fact today we are witnessing a revisited and growing interest on the A.I. (From the network to the Cloud to the terminals), also demonstrated by the investments of OTTS, who quickly realized the "value" is moving rapidly in that direction.

But the most radical leap is to fully realize that this transformation is also synonymous of "commoditization" of ICT, which passes not only through Open Source S / W and H / W (now there are a lot of initiatives in this direction), but also through new paradigms of innovation and entrepreneurial development "collective", such as through the crowd-funding.

Here it is one of the first interesting examples (there are many others): Softwarization is landing on kickstarter , which an approach that goes beyond the " hobby " context :

Obviously not all of these initiatives (which are proposed on kickstarter ) are successful , even if they take the required funding, but in this case the trend, that this represents, will profoundly affect the activities of R & D and innovation for Telecommunications and ICT in the coming years

14 September 2016

A convergence of SDN, NFV, ArtificialIntelligence and Cloud-Edge Computing towards 5G

A number of techno-economic drivers are radically changing Telecommunications and ICT scenarios. Service Providers will have to face unprecedented challenges and opportunities posed, for example, by the impressive increase of video traffic, by emerging of new service scenarios (e.g., Tactile Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Cloud Robotics, A.I.) in a more and more competitive and dynamic market.

In order to face these challenges, Service Providers aim at making their infrastructure efficient, programmable, elastic and agile. In this context, SDN and NFV are two enabling technologies of an overall systemic transformation called IT-zation or Softwarization which is steering the evolution not only of Networks, but also of Service Platforms (e.g., Cloud and Edge Computing architectures) and even future terminals, machines and smart things. Overall it’s a systemic digital business transformation of several industries. 

Some key areas of transformation include: infrastructures architectural delayering, simplifications and optimization of the operational processes (e.g., through orchestrators and new paradigms of OSS/BSS capable of managing the complexity and heterogeneity of SDN and NFV infrastructures), development of flexible and programmable “platforms of platforms”. 

If mastering the software is recognized a must for a successful digital business transformation, standardization of open source software solutions and interfaces is still felt to be a hot issue. Eventually SDN and NFV are lowering the thresholds for new Players to enter in the Telecommunications and ICT ecosystems, so it is likely that Service Providers strategies will be more and more influenced by the dynamics of new Competitors (even Start-ups) entering their business segments, the analogous transformation of the Technology Providers, as well as the regulation rules.

Join us at ICIN2017 to shape the convergence of SDN, NFV, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud-Edge Computing towards 5G.


11 September 2016

Softwarization and Archetypes

Carl Gustav Jung was a well-known Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies.

Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including Jungian archetypes, the collective unconscious, the psychological complex, and extroversion and introversion. Jungian archetypes are just like “empty forms” which are filled each of us: examples of archetypes are: the mother, the father, the child, the shadow, the wise old man, the anima and the animus. He never limited the number of archetypes, arguing that at different stages of our life other archetypes would emerge and with them interpretations which would be appropriate for these stages.

We know that the acceleration of ICT is likely to impact profoundly our socio-economic system. Not only Telecommunications but also other several industries will be disrupted. Ultra-broadband connectivity, with its low latencies, will embed A.I. pervasively into the reality so that machines and robots will work for us (or better instead of us).  

However the impact of ICT progresses on the collective unconscious and our archetypes has not been fully investigated yet. And this is where we’ll see the most impactful changes of our society, in my opinion. Just remind Jung's description of archetypes: "an image of instinct…a spiritual goal toward which the whole nature of man strives...".

Mark Stefik, a principal scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, wrote an interesting book in 1996, titled Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors, (The MIT Press). At the time of the writing of this book the most familiar metaphor for the Internet was the "information superhighway", but he preferred four metaphors, each of which points to an archetype as its source: the Digital Library pointing to "Keeper of Knowledge;" Electronic Mail to "Communicator"; Electronic Marketplace, to "Trader;" and finally, Digital Worlds to "Adventurer." According to Stefik "these archetypes, with their deep and ancient roots in many cultures, represent what we see in others, but they are also parts of ourselves. This shared experience of cultural archetypes is part of what makes us what we are”.

There is another interesting book, from Daniel Taylor, The Healing Power of Stories dealing with the importance of good stories to build a community. Every community has its stories that bind all members together: as in the past the storyteller was an important member of each village. And stories are also full references to archetypes. We all can agree that the Web is playing a very important on that.

Remember also the concept of Meme, introduced by Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene”: meme is the equivalent of the gene in the evolution of human culture. Memes can hides combination of archetypes. A successful meme can rapidly spread on the Web.

Current and future ICT will allow creating, programming and spreading on the Web new archetypes for millions of people, thus morphing the collective unconscious of the society. This can influence the culture, the behaviours, the dreams and the needs of people, profoundly. The archaic power of archetypes can transform the society and the industry. 

This is a major impact of Softwarization of Telecommunications, maybe (as ahead) even more than the ones on data privacy, security and the fears that robots will replace humans in several jobs !

31 August 2016

Robotron: towards Networks and DCs management at large scale

Recently I've stumbled upon this paper, where FB presents Robotron, a system for managing a massive production network in a top-down way. Design goals of Robotron has been/is to reduce effort and errors on management tasks by minimizing direct human intervention. 


As reported in the paper, Robotron is used to express high-level design intent, which is translated into low-level device configurations to be deployed safely. Robotron also monitors devices' operational state to ensure it does not deviate from the desired state. Since 2008, Robotron has been used to manage tens of thousands of network devices connecting hundreds of thousands of servers globally at FB.

FB infrastructure is a "network of networks" containing multiple domains: edge point-of-presence (POP) clusters, a global back-bone, and several large Data Centers (DC).  Interestingly the paper describes the network-wide abstraction layer that models and stores various network device attributes as well as network-level attributes and topology descriptions, e.g., routers, switches, optical devices, protocol parameters, topologies, etc. Physical and logical components are modeled as typed objects, value elds, and relationship fields. And there are APIs to provide operations to retrieve objects and their attributes.

Robotron looks like a very promising  approach that the research should look at in order to improve/extend the management practice for SDN-NFV convergent infrastructures.

11 August 2016

5G: a three ingredients receipe

Please find attached at this link a white paper that IEEE SDN initiative has recently delivered.

It's about a systemic vision on 5G, where SDN, NFV but also Cloud Computing, and its evolution towards Edge and Fog Computing are "technical" pieces of same puzzle (the Softwarization of Telecommunications Systems).

The socio-economic impact of the ongoing transformation will be profound, and 5G is likely to be the first expression. It will address not only ICTE but also several other industries with are "going digital" to be more efficient and optimise costs.

However, this complex transformation can be summarised into three major points:    

  1. "Softwarization" is radically lowering the "threshold" for new Infrastructure Providers to enter the IaaS market. The solutions offered by Standard Hardware Providers will offer the possibility to deploy very low costs infrastructures, as a commodity. It is likely that regional/local Infrastructure Providers (not only Telcos, but also Municipalities, Communities, contiguous markets Service Providers) will proliferate;
  2. At the same time, there will be a "boom" of application and services (both network-cloud services and Users' applications will share the same paradigm) to be run on the Infrastructures. In fact, Infrastructures will assume the form of extended and distributed "execution" environments: from the Fog Computing resources (up to the terminals) to the Edge-Cloud Computing (Network PoPs, small and medium Data Centers) across converged fixed-radio connectivity. It is likely that Application and Service Developers, Systems Integrator (even of small medium sizes) will proliferate;
  3. The missing (and most strategic) link will be the "Operating Platforms" allowing the services to be run on the Infrastructures, metaphorically like an OS is allowing an app to be run on a PC. The "Operating Platforms" will ensure the automation of the Infrastructures' operations processes and the service provisioning in such dynamic and complex future scenarios. It is likely that there will be only a very limited number of  Providers of "Operating Platforms". It will be at this level where the game local-vs-global will be played.
My take is that the access to these "Operating Platforms" (through IaaS Providers) will be "gate" to a world of services (for production and consumption), and it won't necessarily coincide with the access to the Internet...

05 August 2016

5G: where we are and where we go

There are clear evidences of a growing interest of Operators and Service Providers (both Telecoms and OTTs) on the exploitation of SDN, NFV and the evolution of Cloud towards Edge-Fog Computing for their "digital business transformation" towards the 5G Era.

This is a global move world-wide, which is accelerating with a tremendous effort in R&D and Innovation and with a common medium-long term target, which is 5G.

Some examples.

In the following press release Verizon is claiming that its next-generation network based on network functions virtualization and software-defined networking is rapidly taking shape.

In this link, AT&T elaborates how ECOMP is expected to get rapidly on-board new services (created by AT&T or third parties) requested by customers. ECOMP provides a framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of network management functions

Moreover this press points out how Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (A:I.) will be part of the story: A.I. will handle more that 80% of the operation processes of network management and service provisioning (it’s about actionable big data).

...but I would even add that A.I. will be the game changer also for "cyber-security".

It worth also mentioning the amazing Telecom Infra Project (TIP) which is including OTTs, Telecom operators, infrastructure providers, system integrators, and other technology companies joining together to innovate approaches to building and deploying future telecom network infrastructure based on open hw and open sw paradigms

…and the very recent press release from ON.Lab and The Linux Foundation announcing the formation of the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) initiative as a new, independent open source project. In addition, Google, Radisys and Samsung Electronics Co. are joining CORD and ONOS Projects as new partners.

In Europe we have also the 5GPPP, i.e., the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership initiated by the EU Commission and industry manufacturers, telecommunications operators, service providers, SMEs and researchers.  The 5G PPP aims at delivering solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures of the coming decade.

…and this is a very interesting white paper from NTT on 5G

…impossible mentioning all the related ongoing activities on Standardization Bodies (as in IETF, ETSI, ITU, ONF... 3GPP, IEEE etc, etc), but it is pretty clear the overall convergence towards an industrial infrastructure integrating fixed and mobile, network and IT resources and functionalities, deployable up to the edge and fog, even in the terminals. It is also pretty clear the key role of ML and A.I. both for managing the infrastructure "complexity" by automating the Operations and for hooking the new killers apps. A cocktail of SDN, NFV, Cloud-Edge-Fog Computing and A.I.

One may ask: out of this tremendous effort worldwide, can we see and abstract a global systemic vision and new strategic biz models for the future sustainability of Telecommunications and ICT ?

I believe so: follow my next posts and join us!