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 !

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 !

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!

17 July 2016

"Post K": will Supercomputers become the future Telecoms infrastructures ?

Post K is an amazing project from the Japan government aimed at developing an even more powerful supercomputer (than the current K) for providing several applications and services to government, academia and industry... 

It looks like paving the way towards a medium-long term objective of creating an ecosystem around super-computing facilities: have  a look at this clip: http://www.aics.riken.jp/fs2020p/en/

Imaging now extending/distributing these super-computing facilities from a centralised Data Centre to multiple sites on a wide area (e.g. a Country), through low latency WAN links (e.g., 5G).

Keeping in mind that AT&T is arguing that they will transform the Central Offices (4-5 k) in Data Centres, then a distributed country-wide super-computer is likely to become the next Telecommunication infrastructure.

Eventually this super-Telecommunication infrastructure will be able to execute any sort of A.I. and Machine Learning services and applications ("game changer"), not only for the creating new services but also for its automated operations.

Back to  Project KFujitsu said that it will use ARM-based processors to build it...and Japan's SoftBank to buy the technology company ARM for $32 billion (24.11 billion pounds) in cash! 


14 July 2016

Towards 5G Software-Defined Ecosystems

IEEE SDN has just released a second white paper entitled "Towards 5G Software-Defined Ecosystems".

Abstract — Techno-economic drivers are creating the conditions for a radical change of paradigm in the design and operation of future telecommunications infrastructures. In fact, SDN, NFV, Cloud and Edge-Fog Computing are converging together into a single systemic transformation termed “Softwarization” that will find concrete exploitations in 5G systems. The IEEE SDN Initiative1 has elaborated a vision, an evolutionary path and some techno-economic scenarios of this transformation: specifically, the major technical challenges, business sustainability and policy issues have been investigated. This white paper presents: 1) an overview on the main techno-economic drivers steering the “Softwarization” of telecommunications; 2) an introduction to the Open Mobile Edge Cloud vision (covered in a companion white paper); 3) the main technical challenges in terms of operations, security and policy; 4) an analysis of the potential role of open source software; 5) some use case proposals for proof-of-concepts; and 6) a short description of the main socio-economic impacts being produced by “Softwarization”. Along these directions, IEEE SDN is also developing of an open catalogue of software platforms, toolkits, and functionalities aiming at a step-by-step development and aggregation of test-beds/field-trials on SDNNFV-5G. This will prepare the ground for developing new ICT ecosystems, thereby improving the quality of life and facilitating the development of the new digital economy.

Please download it from the IEEE SDN portal

Comments and contributions are most welcome !

04 July 2016

The Manifesto fo the Knowledge-based Economy

An economic epoch is defined by three factors,

The production systems and the tools these systems are employing
The means of communication and the means for information creation
The type of energy (power) systems engaged.

In each epoch there is a certain relationship and interdependence between these three factors. So far in human history, each of these factors was built over a certain technology and there was no relation between the technologies these three factors were exploiting. In striking contrast, the characteristic of the knowledge-based economy we have entered, as a clearly identifiable new economic epoch, is the dominant role of information and communications systems which are emerging as the common technological base  all these three factors. have This presupposes the digitization and the standardization of all human activities and of all processes in their lives. As the matter of fact, the digitization and standardization allow the convergence of the three factors into an entirely novel framework. Moreover, digitization allows biotechnology to emerge, for the first time, as the fourth factor in the definition of an economic epoch.

The distinctive feature of the knowledge-based economic activity is that it provides a new framework for planning, organizing and coordinating resources (human or material) to an unprecedented scale, while removing all barriers associated with location, distance and skills: we are entering the era where all technology-related restrictions which confine humans to implement their social functions at certain locations only, are being removed. This opens up the opportunity to select, mobilize and utilize the most diverse parameters and assets needed to complete a particular task regardless of their actual physical location and regardless of the nature of these tasks. In this way, social functions, like the deployment of new production tool systems in an industrial complex, the handling of agricultural robots in the fields, the employment of integrated health-care systems, the operation and control of distributed and renewable energy systems, scientific research, education, recreation and cultural development, etc will be rooted back to the same standardized processes.

We acknowledge that the knowledge capital, which knows no geographical boundaries, is an indestructible entity in striking contrast with its first or second industrial-wave counterparts that were often subjected to dissipation. Moreover, unlike physical resources, the knowledge capital is not exhaustible; it can be almost instantly transferred anywhere and can be employed or used simultaneously from an unrestricted number of human users or machines. In parallel, this new era brings its own challenges: the coordination of diverse and complex operations becomes an extremely challenging and critical task. The knowledge-based economy is ushering a revolutionary wealth system but it also includes many unchartered directions, the implications of which are not fully understood and accounted for in all respects at this moment, while we are not fully prepared for the many alternative outcomes.

We have passed the point where national economies are integrated to regional ones transforming the previously isolated markets into vast market clusters. Today, regions within a single nation, countries, unions and even whole continents are immensely and inextricably linked creating new opportunities while the economic interests are shifted to new directions. In this framework, global economy is characterized from interdependency and cooperation on one hand and from competition on the other.

This evolution has created global reach enterprises that may leverage the features of the knowledge-based economy to become completely location-independent, capitalizing on an automated connectivity to and between any process, person or thing; moreover, they are designated from their ability to scale to meet any demand. This ability, to scale to worldwide demand but still be able to provide for the delivery of services or goods locally, is something that requires a certain organizational and technological framework. On the organizational front, global alliances or consortia are formed to establish global reach with ubiquitous local access in each geographic market. Each of these alliances will likely be anchored to one or more large global industry leaders or service providers. In such a dynamic world, the enterprises with the most automated operations and the alliances with optimized global-local reach operations are those that will benefit the most and will be able to leverage their dynamic agility to win in the marketplace.

However, the organizational framework alone is not sufficient to safeguard better, lower-cost, value-added digitalization and service creation. A common, standardized operating platform, overcoming the current picture of a plethora of over-fragmented and single-purpose technologies, is a necessity that will bring into life the potential of a knowledge-based economy matching the ability of the over-the-top enterprises to coordinate on both “global” and “local” scale.

This is the point where the next generation infrastructures is expected to play a central role.

by Alexandros Stavdas

29 June 2016

Will A.I. operate future Internet ? Let's train it !

If today "software is eating the world", quoting Marc Andressen, tomorrow A.I. will bring to the end of code. See what it argued here

Well, even today we are going to have more and more smart terminals, wearable, machines capable of translating our actions, thoughts, words and maybe even emotions into enormous sets of big data.
Then these data are are filtered, processed to detect patterns, to infer actions (i.e., making the data “actionable”). It's the Digital Society and Economy.

As a matter of fact, this coupling of TLC (fixed-mobile low latency connectivity) and IT (processing and storage) are already pervasively exploiting (through sensors and actuators) “cognition loops” nested into the reality, These “cognition loops” are used to optimise any process or activity, engaging even humans in the loop ! I've argued that several times: it's a sort of artificial "nervous system" for the Digital Society and Economy. 

Advances on machine learning are impressive! The enormous processing power available at low costs and the more and more advanced A.I. techniques being developed, will allow us moving deeper inside "softwarization": I won't be that surprised if sooner that we expect programmers won’t code anymore!

Eventually, humans will set-up and train deep neural networks, hyper-connected and executed on highly distributed execution environment. Indeed this is mimicking a multilayered connections of neurons, just like a nervous system, in charge of "automated" operations. See my last posts.

Understanding better and better SDN, we are now starting talking about A.I. Defined Networks.

This is the essence of my talk today at EuCNC2016, in Athens.

24 June 2016

The Telco Operating System and the Commoditization

Today Telecommunications infrastructures are going to face a major transformation: from networks of interconnected “closed” equipment (e.g., IT systems and nodes e.g., switches, routers, middle-boxes, etc.) to a “continuum” of virtual resources (e.g., virtual machines, containers) executing millions of intertwined software processes.

If it is true that this transformation will increase the levels of pervasivity, flexibility, programmability and robustness, it is also true that it will increase also the degree of complexity.
Human made control and management will not be able to cope such higher degree of complexity especially in highly dynamic environments, so my take is that Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) will be more and more adopted in Control, Management and Orchestration processes.

A sort of “Operating System” (OS) will integrate these Operations processes for Telecommunications infrastructures, being ONOS and X-OS initial expressions of this target. Interestingly, the characteristics of this OS, and its potential extension up to the terminals of the future (e.g., smart thing, robots, machines, wearable, AI interfaces), will reflect the strategic role and business of the Service Provider or Network Operator exploiting it. 

So, it’s a questions – as J. Doyle argued (see picture below) – to define and exploit those required "constraints to deconstrain" what is on top of it. Abstractions, Northbound (e.g., Intent, TOSCA, YANG, etc) Southbound (e.g., OpenFlow, NetConf, ..., P4, etc.) interfaces being notably examples of these constraints. And the kernel OS should be protocol-independent.

At the end of the day, we'll see - with this OS - any application/service (X-as-a-Service) will run on any hardware (possibly standard and low cost) of Telecommunications infrastructures (e.g., distributed Cloud-Edge-Fog computing resources interconnected by ultra-low latency link). Simple like that. This is Universality: any car running on any road across the world.

This is how Commoditization of Telecommunications will open a major techno-economic transformation of the Digital Society and Economy...today, only at the very beginning.

Let's join efforts to design and develop this A.I. Operating System with humans in the loop, it will be the nervous system of the future internet.

20 June 2016

A 5G Networked A.I. with humans-in-the-loop

A unit of Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc. has developed an algorithm that can predict crowd formation. They published results in this amazing paper http://arxiv.org/abs/1603.06780 .

This piece of news also reported at the end of March by The Wall Street Journal: Crowd Control ?

Machine-Deep Learning and algorithms capable of using crowd (and in general network) big-data to make predictions have a clear strategic value (for example for optimising service provisioning, for anticipating new trends). Big Data should be made "actionable".

Commoditization of Telecoms is opening up a new era for the A.I. applications: ambients that learn, self-driving cars, high frequency trading bots, I4.0 robotics, emulating/creating new drugs, developing contents and even music (e.g., Magenta), any sort of Avatars (e.g., Cortana)...

Indeed we are witnessing the rise of a "Networked Artificial Intelligence" with the humans-in-the-loop. In fact, see also this analyst-in-the-loop security system, which combines analyst intuition with machine learning to build an end-to-end active learning system for security.

According to Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon): “A.I. is going to become  gigantic and it's probably difficult to overstate the impact it will have on society over the next 20 years

So we can argue that, current socio-economic drivers and IT trends are bringing to a convergence Computer Science, Telecommunications and A.I.. Mathematics will be the language, computation will be about running that language (coded in software), storage will be about saving this encoded information and, eventually, future networks (e.g., 5G) will be creating relationships –at almost zero latency - between these sets of functions.

I believe that the design, development and exploitation of this “Networked A.I. with humans-in-the-loop” will be one of the most exciting and impactful directions of research and innovation, requiring multi-disciplinary approaches and offering far reaching opportunities for our society and economy. 

15 June 2016

OMEC for 5G Sustainable Ecosystems

Yeasterday we've closed the two-days IEEE SDN Workshop on "5G Sustainable Ecosystems and Open Mobile Edge Computing" (hosted at the TIM Future Centre in Venice)

I'm pleased to say that it has been a very successful event with a large international participation. The Workshop is structured in two events:

  • June 15th  "Toward Sustainable Ecosystems 5G" : main objective has been to elaborate and discuss technical and economic sustainability issues for the future 5G, in view of the ongoing of digital business transformation Telecommunications. Areas of discussions included both enabling technologies (SDN, NFV, Cloud-Edge-Fog Computing, A.I., etc) and potential economic impacts of this transformation
  • June 16th "Open Mobile Edge Cloud" as a new architectural paradigm paving the way towards 5G (see a former post of mine). OMEC is currently development in the context of IEEE SDN - Pre-Indusrtrial Commettee. Main objective has been to progressing its definition and collecting proposals for use-cases.

Several Service Providers from EU, US and Asia participated as well as Technology Providers and Academia representatives. Final goal - in fact- will be developing a larger and larger community suppoting and contributing to OMEC with open H/W and S/W approaches.  

Agenda is here: https://t.co/qQendQ8lSC
A Service Providers' white paper will be produced out of the Workshop.

For getting further information just drop me an email.

Keep You posted.

30 May 2016

Bio-NanoThings: beyong the Internet of Thing

Internet of Things (IoT) is under the spot since a few years. With the development of IoT, any object will be empowered with intelligence and with the capabilities to interconnect with any other object, machine and people anywhere, anytime. Several applications are envisioned today: from health to domotics, from energy management to security to types of digital enterprises.

Moreover while IoT foresees billion of things potentially communicating with one another, the Internet with Things (IwT) foresees a growing number (in the hundreds of millions initially, to become hundreds of billion) of objects that will become accessible to human beings through the Internet. The IwT shares several technologies and architectures with the IoT although the “communications interface” should be adapted to meet human needs and the form factor of the object matters since the object is “visible” and its physical characteristics are a selling point, as important as its functionality. In the IoT the functionalities exposed are the ones designed by the producer of the “T”; in the IwT a significant number of functionalities will be mashed up by third parties.

This evolution will have a deep impact from a socio-economic viewpoint, influencing economy development as a whole, public institutions, social relations, diffusion of information, privacy of citizens, etc. This evolution raises technical challenges and important socio-economic issues for stakeholders to consider: from simplifying such emerging complexity when managing future networks to identifying new business opportunities and models. 

But there is another new trend, which I believe will be even more impactful: the Internet of Bio-NanoThings, which in some way strictly related to my last post on the Microbiome. 

Have a look at this impressive paper of my friend Ian F. Akyildiz:

Paper presen the novel paradigm of the Internet of Bio-Nano Things (IoBNT), stemming from synthetic biology and nanotechnology tools that allow the engineering of biological embedded computing devices. 

Bio-NanoThings will enable applications such as intra-body sensing and actuation networks, and environmental control of toxic agents and pollution. It is definitely a paradigm-shifting concept for communication and network engineering, where novel challenges have to be faced: e.g., the definition of information for biological devices, efficient and safe techniques for the exchange of biological information, interaction, and networking within the biochemical domain, while enabling an interface to
the electrical domain of the Internet.

27 May 2016

The Internet of "Microbiomes"

On May 13th , the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), with Federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, announced the National Microbiome Initiative (NMI).
Microbiomes, which are communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere with a fundamental role in maintaining the healthy function of diverse ecosystems: Microbiomes influence radically human health, climate change, and food security.
The NMI brings together scientists from more than 100 universities, companies, research institutions, and federal agencies in the US. The main goal of NMI is understanding of microbiomes for the development of useful applications in areas such as health care, food production, and environmental restoration: what are the fundamental principles that govern microbiomes ecosystems, which tools developing to monitor and control  microbiomes dynamics, etc...

ThepotentialimpactofaunifiedMicrobiomeinitiativetounderstandandresponsiblyharnesstheactivitiesofmicrobial communities. (Credit: Diana Swantek, Berkeley Lab)
The potential impacts of Microbiome (Credit: Diana Swantek, Berkeley Lab)

Just imagine that there are trillions of microbes in the human microbiome: the entire human microbiome is a world of living entities accounting for about for 1-3% total body mass, with weight-estimates ranging as high as 1,400 grams. Human microbiomes influence radically human body and mind states. So, mapping human microbiome is a grand challenge: consider that DNA of the microbes that inhabit a person's human body can uniquely identify the person.
Having said that, and considering that today DNA storage and computing prototypes are getting more and more momentum (for feasibility at affordable costs)...

...it’s likely that a new big Industry "handling" this universe of microbiomes, for plenty of applications, may emerge !

23 May 2016

In-Network Programmability for next-generation personal cloUd service support (INPUT)

INPUT (www.input-project.eu) is a research project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 program which aims at designing a novel SDN/NFV platform to support the Future Internet personal cloud services in a more scalable and sustainable way, with innovative added-value capabilities and much closer to the end-users, by exploiting and fostering upcoming in-network fog computing technologies.

Interestingly, INPUT technologies aims at enabling next-generation cloud applications to go beyond classical service models (i.e., IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), and even to replace physical smart devices, usually placed in users’ homes (e.g., network-attached storage servers, set-top-boxes, video recorders, home automation control units, etc.) or deployed around for monitoring purposes (e.g., sensors), with their “virtual images,” providing them to users “as a Service.”
Main objectives includes:

  • introducing computing and storage capabilities to edge network devices (i.e. the “in-network” programmability) in order to allow users/telecom operators to create/manage private clouds “in the network”;
  • moving cloud services closer to end-users and smart devices, in order both to avoid pointless network infrastructure and datacenter overloading, and to provide lower latency reactiveness to services;
  • enabling personal and federated cloud services to natively and directly integrate themselves with the networking technologies close to end-user SDs to provide new service models (e.g., Personal Networks).
  • assessing the validity of the proposed in-network cloud computing model through appropriately designed use cases and related proof-of-concept implementations.

INPUT is fostering future-proof Internet infrastructures that will be “smarter,” fully virtualized, power vs. performance optimized, and vertically integrated with cloud computing, with a clear impact on operating and capital expenses of Telecoms, of service providers, and of end-users. In this respect, INPUT will extend the programmability of network devices and in-network fog resources to make them able to host cloud applications, which will cooperate with those in users’ terminals and datacenters to realize the cloud services. Specific solutions based on state-of-the-art cloud and SDN APIs and protocols are going to be exploited and extended for providing suitable interfaces to manage and to autonomically drive such ecosystem according to different players, such as fog service providers/tenants, infrastructure providers and end-users.

Regarding advancements on NFV, INPUT is focusing on specific solutions for:
  • making the migration of network function much lighter and smoother than the migration mechanisms provided today from virtual machine and container hypervisors;
  • a radically new virtual home-gateway, which will be powered by a modular chain of open-source and DPDK-based Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), and an OpenWRT control/user plane;
  • Proposing paradigms for the flexible offload of modular VNFs to hardware accelerators available into network or IT hardware (e.g., Systems on Chip).

Currently, the project is reaching the half of its life time and it is going to release the first version of the main components of the platform as an open-source modules. Additional details or information about the INPUT can be found in the project website www.input-project.eu, on the LinkedIN group or following the Twitter account @INPUT_Proj.