29 November 2015

IEEE SDN Initiative launcing the Open Mobile Edge Cloud

As Chair of IEEE SDN, I’m very honored and pleased posting today the report (made by Cagatay Buyukkoc AT&T) of the Mobile Edge Cloud kick-off workshop (IEEE NJ, on November 16, 2015) organized by the IEEE SDN Initiative, Preindustrial Committee.

There is some fragmentation in the implementation of SDN/NFV frameworks. The main objective of Preindustrial Committee (Chaired by Cagatay Buyukkoc AT&T) is to create environments towards industrial and academic convergence in areas that we collectively decide that are key in our drive towards “5G Era.” To be able to do this, our committee is looking at opportunities for Proof of Concept (POC) work and establish relationships with other groups doing relevant work in Europe, Asia, Americas, Africa, etc. to increase collaboration & reduce duplication. The idea is to promote experimentation and build consensus around a small set of implementation frameworks. Otherwise, there is a danger of SDN/NFV islands that are not interoperable.

A main focus of the workshop was to introduce a small set of frameworks for such a POC at the Mobile Edge that goes beyond the usual rhetoric and actually implement it in an Open lab environment try to support the idea that look very promising. In this case we chose to start with ON.lab to support a POC on M-CORD as the platform. The details of the POC is at the end of this brief report. Within the industry and academia and continue supporting POCs and trials. Hence, the main focus is on potential gaps in the industry, and addressing the practical side of innovations, creating flexibility as well as interoperability.

Here are the SDN Initiative short and longer term objectives for this Preindustrial work:
  • Identify use-cases and proof-of-concepts (POCs) for SDN-NFV frameworks for End to End (E2E) services scenarios (e.g., CRAN, Orchestration of VNF, fixed + mobile OS, SDX etc.) E2E architectural components. E2E coordination/collaboration on policy, QoS, QoE and including device capabilities are longer term objectives.
  • Rethinking everything: Software, Automation, Shannon, Control, Cellular structure, Next Generation (NG) Base Stations and Mobile Edge, Spectrum, Software Defined-Air interface, NG Core, NG RAN, NG Edge, Complexity, Resilience, etc.
  • Define the experimental best practices for validating various use-case and proof-of-concepts (in coordination with other ongoing initiatives, e.g., ETSI/MEC, ITU-T, ATIS, ONF, OpNFV, etc.) Prepare – as a group – to identify major gaps, create a research community around them and eventually prepare joint contributions to steer standards. There is a broad community addressing various aspects of SDN/NFV/Programmability frameworks.
  • Explore and contribute to Open Systems, but provide an architectural framework as a starting point, hence the parenthesis around Open!
  • Explore the opportunity of creating IEEE certification services for SDN/NFV to accelerate trust for industrial adoption.


The meeting started with opening remarks from Tim Kostyk (IEEE program director) and Eileen Healy (SDN Initiative co-chair). They both emphasized the importance of industrial and academic collaboration, IEEE SDN initiative goals and outlined the workshop activities. The work we do here will impact the speed and ubiquity of interoperable software defined networks for decades to come. Cagatay Buyukkoc then welcomed the group and provided a brief summary of Preindustrial Subcommittee goals and explained the importance of convergence and Proof of Concepts. The major thrust was to emphasize 5G Era and how we need to rethink some key concepts to support and getting ready for future. Towards this end, collaboration with Princeton University (Prof Mung Chiang group) and Stanford University (Prof Sachin Katti group) was explained and the POC support for ON.lab was outlined. Several industry trends were summarized as potential collaboration with ETSI/MEC and other relevant work in the area of Mobile Edge.

Based on various collaborations with other SP’s the (Open) Mobile Edge Cloud was defined as:

An (open) cloud platform that uses some end-user clients and located at the “mobile edge” to carry out a substantial amount of storage (rather than stored primarily in cloud data centers) and computation (including edge analytics, rather than relying on cloud data centers) in real time, communication (rather than routed over backbone networks), and control, policy and management (rather than controlled primarily by network gateways such as those in the LTE core). (Based on largely Prof Mung Chiang work)

Prof Sachin Katti described their work around the softRAN and how that would fit within the Mobile Edge Cloud concept of the workshop. The key areas of softRAN are the deployment of SDN concepts to the RAN. The separation of control plane and data plane and ability to program and distribute key control plane and data plane functions across the RAN (actually any location) are key innovative pieces that will be part of IEEE POCs and trials.

Then Guru Parulkar, director of ON.Lab described the vision, role and capabilities brought by CORD framework. CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) is a key new direction of building an infrastructure using commodity components and enabling open source and whitebox approaches. It is a revolutionary look at architectures. The purpose here is to enable introduction of new services at much faster rates than traditional architectures allow. This was all possible using the recent SDN/NFV frameworks and the ON-OS that is enabling the direction. Tom Tofigh presented the Mobile-CORD, extensions to support Mobility and edge concepts. This is a set of architectures that are consistent with the vision of IEEE SDN Initiative and our support of the POC to follow in 1Q2016.

There were individual presentations from Tao Chen (Coherent and TNF views), Douglas Castor, Arun Jotshi, Laurent Ruckenbusch, Lior Fite, several others.
After this all participant were invited to talk for a few minutes and everybody participated in this round of discussions!

In the afternoon, there were team exercises in which participants worked on some key topics. The suggested topics that were identified by the participants were:
  • Service mobility/Content Distribution,
  • Radio, core functions disaggregation & Control loops: what is centralized, what is at the edge?
  • Mobility management.


Two separate teams worked through a few hours on the same topics and came back and presented their findings. Team leads were Ian Smith and Tom Tofigh.

The key results of the workshop are:
  1. Mobile edge needs a new definition. It should be inclusive and build on existing work elsewhere and prevent divergence through collaborations and joint POCs.
  2. Leverage cloud concepts at the edge: There is big drive towards this that we must quickly realize using a common architecture for content distribution, data analytics, compute and control & steering applications
  3. Tactile Internet and IoT with control loops require 1 ms E2E delays, i.e., at most 10 mile from the EU processing.
  4. The 5G Era is fundamentally refactoring the RAN, Edge and Core architectures, need to judiciously rearchitect E2E functions on common platform and create a Software-Defined ecosystem.
  5. Some of the work needs to align better with EU Horizon activities
  6. Cooperate & collaborate globally!


The Preindustrial subcommittee will host another meeting in about 6 months, and biweekly web meetings going forward. Let’s make this event a beginning for an important industry collaboration!

Meeting report by: Cagatay Buyukkoc


Please join IEEE SDN: contact antonio.manzalini@telecomitalia.it

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