13 April 2017

A Network Operating System for becoming a "Differentiator"

Let’s now go a little bit beyond the plain metaphor of  future telecommunications infrastructures as nervous systems of the Digital Society and Economy.

At the beginning of this year, AT&T announced Network 3.0 Indigo as the next step after Network Domain 2.0: AT&T major push is now to create a trusted environment where organizations can share data and collaborate on analytics. It’s about moving, strategically, from playing the role of Architect to Differentiator to be very compete on data-powered services.

Let’s see an example, quoting the text on the link: “Imagine this simple example. A city has an electric utility, an internet company and a major heating/air conditioning repair company. They join a technician dispatch community to share their data – such as vehicle, traffic and appointment data. Through cooperative machine-learning and the broader data set, they get better and better at timing their dispatches. Their work becomes more efficient and customers are happier. And they are still able to keep their proprietary information safe”.

That brings to mind the concept of a Smart City as an organisms with a Nervous Systems! As a matter of fact, there are remarkable examples such as the CityOS of Bristol or Barcelona. We may reinforce this concept also by what is mentioned here  Indigo is yet another step in the network transformation of AT&T, and that network operating system will play a role to deliver the data-powered services that make all the rest of the work worthwhile".

So we can see here how network operating systems of future telecommunications infrastructures will eventually embed the features of a nervous system for the Digital Society and Economy. And also that the Operators’ infrastructures are the nerves and neurons of such a nervous system…including their processing capabilities: having said that, it’s clear the network operating system is not only about management, control and orchestration but it’s the most powerful instrument for implementing the biz strategies and novel forms of competitive advantages.

Quoting J. Doyle, for being successful, this network operating system should be robust yet fragile .

04 April 2017

Telecoms infrastructures will be the Nervous System of the Digital Society and Economy: what a better use case !

If you consider the metaphor of Nervous System you can soon realize the future Telecommunications infrastructures (e.g., 5G), Cloud-Edge and Fog Computing, Artificial Intelligence and IoT (i.e., pervasive sensoring and actuating) will have naturally to converge quite soon to exploit the Nervous System of the Digital Society and Economy.

The nervous system of a living entity, in fact, is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body. The nervous system includes both the Central nervous system and Peripheral nervous system: the former is made up of the brain and spinal cord (tube like structure which extends from the brain) and the latter of the Somatic and the Autonomic nervous systems. The somatic nervous system consists of peripheral nerve fibers that pick up sensory information or sensations from the peripheral or distant organs (those away from the brain like limbs) and carry them to the central nervous system. The Autonomic nervous systems controls the nerves of the inner organs of the body on which humans have no conscious control ( it includes the heartbeat, digestion, breathing).

These well-known simple definitions are enough to understand the metaphor about the evolution of Telecommunications infrastructures (e.g., 5G), Cloud-Edge and Fog Computing, Artificial Intelligence and IoT. And also the use-case is very clear! The nervous system of a living entity allows the survivability of a living entity enabling functions as to perceive, comprehend, and adapt to the world around us; moreover the nervous system operates the body’s essential physiologic functions, such as breathing and digestion… In the same way the Telecommunications infrastructures will become the Nervous System of the Digital Society and Economy allowing their sustainability by supporting functions as to perceive, comprehend, and adapt to the political and socio-economic environments; moreover it will operates the essential physiologic management and control processes of the Digital Society and Economy. As it is accepted generally now that Nervous System can learn, rearrange, and adapt, a process often referred to as neuroplasticity, so will do Telecommunications infrastructures running A.I. on Cloud-Edge and Fog Computing resources and collecting sensing information from the IoT devices. Virtualization (SDN and NFV) will provide such neuroplasticity to the Telecommunications Nervous System.

So, rather than talking about of CityBrains for SmartCities, it makes more sense referring to global Nervous System (which is much more than a brain) of the Digital Society and Economy.

Eventually my personal take on future Telecommunications infrastructures (e.g., 5G), Cloud-Edge and Fog Computing, Artificial Intelligence and IoT…is that they should be considered systemically as concurring to create an ecosystem, much beyond segmented sectors or verticals. And the biz cases is horizontal: bringing to digital life our Society.

14 February 2017

A.I. detecting early-warning signals …in the complexity of Digital Society and Economy

The Digital Society and Economy are literally becoming complex systems. All sub-systems, at the different levels, are hyper-connected with non linear relationships. Sudden regime/phase transition can occur radically changing the scenarios
Can we early detect tipping points of such sudden regime/phase transition ?

Predicting such tipping points before they are reached is quite difficult, but it might have a huge impact in several fields, from medicine to business, from biology to meteorology to social networking, from management to business and to cyber-security.

There are some nice research papers providing some guidelines. This is one of them “Early-warning signals for critical transitions”. In this case, the paper is suggesting the analysis of generic early-warning signals indicating, for a wide class of complex systems, the approaching of a critical threshold, where small forces can cause major changes in the state. Examples of such transitions might include the collapse of over-harvested ecosystems, climatic changes, or stocks markets dynamics.

For example one symptom is the critical slowing down: when the system approaches a critical transition, it becomes increasingly slow in recovering from small perturbations (which is translated mathematically into an increase in the autocorrelation and variance of the fluctuations). Another signal that can be seen in the vicinity of a catastrophic transition point is flickering. Stochastically, the system moves back and forth between the basins of attraction of two alternative attractors (bistable region). Spatial patterns is a third example: an ecosystem may show a predictable sequence of self-organized spatial patterns as it approach a critical transition (e.g. a semi-arid vegetation to increasing dryness of the climate).

Another recommended reading is this one:

Big Data analysis by A.I. systems could make a breakthrough in this promising area of research and innovation, also on the path towards a sustainable 5G.
The potential gains of investing in these studies are formidable.

24 January 2017

If there will be a 6G...it will be Quantum !

Today 5G is under the spot worldwide. The more we look at it the more we realise that the 5G infrastructure be a radical evolution of 4G/LTE and fixed networks. In fact, current trends are showing that 5G will not be just an increase of radio bandwidth, better performance and improved reliability: 5G will deeply integrate processing, storage and (fixed-mobile) network capabilities in highly flexible and programmable architectures, almost fully "automated".

As a matter of fact technology advances and the costs reductions are bringing these capabilities pervasively into the daily reality, around us, impacting deeply any segment of Society and Economy. Not only humans, but also machines, robots, drones, pieces of software processes will become the future Users of 5G in a newly developed Digital Society and the Digital Economy. 

In this sense, 5G is expression of digital transformation, starting to materialise from 2020, and maybe, one of the major issues still open is understanding the new value-chain making all of that sustainable !

But beyond that, "what's next" ?  My take is that if there will be a 6G, then it will be Quantum !

There are several evidences of increasing efforts and investments in R&D and Innovation of Quantum systems. Some notable example are: Microsoft, IBM, HP, Toshiba, Google, NASA, Intel, Alibaba, BT and other several Centres of Excellence. 

Take a look at these links:

It's true that Quantum technologies and approaches are showing different levels of maturity, but it is already widely believed that first Quantum Systems will be available within five-ten years: as a matter of fact advanced prototypes for quantum computing and communications are already available.

There is also already a Quantum Manifesto calling upon Member States and the European Commission to launch a €1 billion Flagship-scale Initiative in Quantum Technology, preparing for a start in 2018 within the European H2020 research and innovation framework programme

A future breakthrough in the development of quantum systems at affordable prices will have systemic and far reaching impacts, e.g.,
  • the exploitation of the Quantum Internet capable of exchanging information through fully optical networks and processing it, optically, in the form of encoded photons;

  • the development of disruptive applications in the areas of cryptography, cyber-security and anti-counterfeit transactions with “quantum money”, finance, but also in bioinformatics, quantum machine learning and artificial intelligence;

  • radical implications in other sectors and industries, such as new faster ways of processing genetic big data, quantum biology and medicine or developing of new nano-tech smart materials.
Would you bet on Quantum ?

10 January 2017

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

The IEEE Institute ranked the white paper “Towards 5G Software-Defined Ecosystems” among the 10 Most Popular Articles of 2016 (ranked #5, along with articles on Shannon Centennial and Marie Curie’s involvement in WWI).


Let's meet in Bologna, at IEEE NetSoft 2017 to move the next steps.

Software-Defined Networks (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Cloud-Edge-Fog Computing are key ingredients of an overall techno-economic transformation trend, which is impacting deeply Telecom and ICT industries. This trend, often called “Softwarization”, will bring costs optimizations and new service paradigms.

In particular, SDN, NFV and network programmability are going to become the main enablers of the 5th Generation (5G) of infrastructures, which will span from high data rate fixed-mobile services to the Internet of Things.

This timely flagship conference of IEEE SDN will shed light on the fundamental technology components and systems for SDN-NFV infrastructures, clouds-edges and any sort of network services in order to fully exploit its potential for the efficiently handling of heterogeneous resources across wire and wireless networks and datacenter domains and for easy and fast deployment of new ICT services. 

The IEEE NetSoft will bring together academia and industry to jointly review and ponder maturing developments related to all aspects of Softwarization, and its first exploitation with the 5G.

Don't miss the opportunity of joining us in Bologna, and "influencing" the way towards 5G.
There is still time to registers you papers and demos !

for questions and further information: antonio.manzalini@telecomitalia.it

11 December 2016

Infrastructure-agnostic orchestration space

A number of well-known drivers are paving the way towards an end-to-end X-as-a-Service world, a truly Digital Transformation of Society and Economy:
  • pervasive diffusion of ultra-broadband (fixed and mobile);
  • increase of performance of H/W at lowering costs;
  • growing availability of Open Source S/W;
  • availability of “actionable” Big Data;
  • advances on Artificial Intelligence;
  • more and more powerful terminals and smart things.

We realize that Softwarization of Telecommunications – and several other Industries - will be the natural next step of this Digital Transformation. Automating Operations will be the key factor of success, in a growing complexity and heterogeneity. On the other hand, we are witnessing a rather high level of fragmentation, in international forum, bodies, projects and initiatives developing systems, platforms for management, control and orchestration…even more when looking at 5G infrastructures.

Moreover, it is not predictable today which of said platform(s) will be widely accepted and deployed, and how they will evolve.  Impossible to predict today which one will be “the winner takes all”. My take is that to cope with this, there is a need of developing an “infrastructure-agnostic orchestration space” capable of decoupling from currently available (and future) control and orchestrations platform (e.g., ONOS, ODL, OpenStack, MANO, etc) … but at the same time “hooking” all of them (for end-to-end services) by using a standard set of abstractions.

Scalability, security, and accounting will represent some of the major challenges towards this fully automated, agile, multi-domain, end-to-end X-as-a-Service world.

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 !