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!