06 October 2016

Towards Artificially Intelligent Networks

Yesterday I've made my keynote at the IEEE Conference CloudNet2017, by the way very interesting event with high quality publications and presentations. 

Here it is the abstract of my talk:


The increasing levels of flexibility and programmability provided by the exploitation of enabling technologies such as SDN-NFV-Edge/Fog, leading to the Network Softwarization, will determine in turn higher levels of management and control “complexity”: in fact, rather than operating sets of closed physical nodes and systems, it will be necessary allocating and orchestrating a dramatically higher number of software processes, logically intertwined and dynamically moving in the Telecom infrastructures. Central Offices will become like Data Centers.

In the X-as-a-Service era the business sustainability passes through ways for increasing QoE, reducing Time To Market and guaranteeing cyber-security

This “complexity”, outstripping human control and operations ability, could be tamed only by exploiting, in the real-time Operating Platforms, leveraging on Applied mathematics, Artificial Intelligence methods and systems capable of making “actionable” the infrastructure Big Data (e.g., logs, alarms, and other data). 

In fact, it is easy to predict that key question of the ongoing Digital Business Transformation is automating the Operations processes (today's OSS-BSS), from the management to the control to the orchestration of physical and logical resources 

...but this is paving the way towards Artificially Intelligent Networks, where SDN-NFV-Cloud-Edge-Fog Computing will converge with A.I. systems and methods.

Happy that the keynote has been well received with several questions!
Who is interested in the presentation, please drop me an email, please to share it.

Very proud to show the appreciation.
Thanks to the General Chair (Prof. Stefano Giordano) and to the Organizing Commettee !

04 October 2016

Quest for Real-time Operating Platforms

Digital Business Transformation mean a number of objectives for Network Operators and Service Providers: saving Operational costs, reducing Time to Market, improving de-commissioning procedures, improving the “quality of service” but also becoming ready for providing new ICT services, even those which are still unpredictable today. In a sentence, Telecommunications infrastructures should become “good enough” to be economically sustainable in highly dynamic and changing scenarios.

We know that SDN-NFV are considered today two of the most promising enabling technologies to achieve these goals. However, the target of increasing the levels of flexibility and programmability will determine, in turn (reverse side of the coin), higher and higher levels of management “complexity”: in fact, rather than managing sets of closed physical nodes and systems, it will be necessary allocating and orchestrating a huge number of software tasks, logically intertwined and dynamically moving.

There is also an overall consensus that 5G production (and beyond) environment will look like distributed clouds of IT systems, interconnected through ultra-low latency (radio and wired) connections, capable of executing software processes and applications, dynamically meeting Customers’ needs. As a matter of fact, already today we’re witnessing the interweaving of technologies such as Edge and Fog Computing with SDN and NFV.  And “Softwarization” will allow decomposing the network and service functions into chains of software tasks. End-to-end service provisioning will require that this functional decomposition will be followed by an optimal allocation and orchestration of the virtualized functionalities across User Equipment, RAN, Mobile Edge and Core resources. Eventually, this will bring a unified service modeling whereby SDN services (e.g., controllers), NFV services (e.g., Virtual Network  Functions), and Cloud services are seen as “application” executed on virtualized resources.

TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications) will be a natural candidate for the Northbound interfaces of the Real-time Operating Platforms. TOSCA  is a standard from OASIS that targets interoperable deployment and lifecycle management of cloud services. In fact, TOSCA uses the concept of service templates to describe cloud workloads as a topology template. The topology template describes the structure of a service as a set of node templates and relationship templates modeling the relations as a directed graph. Node templates and relationship templates (linking different nodes) in fact specify properties and operations (via interfaces) to manipulate the service components. Moreover, it is likely that the YANG declarative data modeling language will be used both to describe deployable instances of a service (e.g., a VNF) and to configure a network device/element at run time.

Eventually, TOSCA and NetConf /YANG could be considered as complementary instruments: deployment templates may trigger the  NetConf /YANG configurations during the instantiation of a service, whist in the Operations the Real Time Operating Platforms can take over configurations at run time. On the Southbound interface a number of well-known configuration protocols and programming language are getting momentum: OpenFlow, NetConf, P4, etc.

At the same time we’re witnessing a growing diffusion of Internet of Things and Machine to Machine communications are creating also a new generation of non-human Customers’, such as Robots, Avatars and any sort of Artificial Intelligence applications.  This “complexity”, outstripping human control and operations ability, will be tamed only by exploiting real-time Operating Platforms, based on Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) methods and systems, integrating management, control and orchestration functions. It will be necessary collecting, filtering and elaborating the infrastructure Big Data, thus “closing the loop” and making the them truly “actionable” for Operations and provisioning of services.

Real-time Operating Platforms should provide an abstraction layer for switching/networking (e.g., Switch, Ports, Links) and compute, storage resources (e.g., CPU, RAM, Disk, Ports, etc.). This allows applications and developers to request connectivity, storages and arbitrary units of compute power without one having to worry about how this translates to bare-metal, Containers or Virtual Machines.  Eventually this evolution will impact deeply the current value chain: in fact, Telecommunications infrastructures, governed by real-time Operating Platforms, will become a single converged industrial structures covering voice, Internet access and other services a la OTT.

In this big leap towards Artificially Intelligent Networks, a new Community will have to be developed capable of integrating Experts in Computer Science, Telecommunications-ICT, A.I. and Applied Mathematics.

Dynamical Systems Internet based on Feynman Machines

I wish celebrating my 100th post on this blog with a short piece about this amazing paper:

Feynman Machine: The Universal Dynamical Systems Computer

Paper proposes a simple but very innovative model which draws on recent findings in Neuroscience and the Applied Mathematics of  Dynamical Systems. One of my dreams, using the advances on Neuroscience and  Applied Mathematics to re-define the way we see the networks.

as mentioned by the paper, the Feynman Machine is a Universal Computer for Dynamical Systems, analogous to the Turing Machine for symbolic computing, but with several important differences capable of bringing to radically new architectures for machine intelligence.

Unlike the Turing Machine (or any digital computer), the Feynman Machine is not “programmed” in the traditional sense we are used to. The structure of the network, the choice and configuration of regions, and connections to its external world together dictate the functionality and capability of the machine, and the actual performance is achieved by online learning of the structure in the world. Like for the nervous system of living being.

Now imagine extending this paradigm by interconnecting each other Feynman Machines (not digital computer as we have today in Internet) and you'll get a sort of Dynamical Systems Internet based on Feynman Machines. A radically new ways of looking at the Network.

As a matter of fact, the combination of SDN and NFV are creating new "complexity" dimensions that, in principle, could allow this leap, thus potentially opening new frontier for Artificially Intelligent Networks.

This will be part of my talk at IEEE CloudNet on 5th October in Pisa. 

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 !