Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

VITAL Report Summary

Project reference: 644843
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VITAL (VIrtualized hybrid satellite-TerrestriAl systems for resilient and fLexible future networks)

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Despite the important and continued advances in the technologies used in satellite communications, the deployment of cutting-edge network technologies within satellite networks has not evolved at the same pace as terrestrial communications systems, mainly due to business-related constraints. However, the combination of satellite and terrestrial network components to form an integrated telecom domain has been regarded for long time as a promising approach to significantly improve the delivery of communications services and the business position of the SatCom industry in the market. In this context, the SatCom industry is clearly committed to revisit and revamp the role of satellite communications in the path towards next generation 5G networks. Indeed, considering the current and future challenges being pursued under the scope of 5G communication networks, it is of utmost importance that 5G seamlessly integrates multiple layers and heterogeneity of network technologies, including satellite communications.
Current advances in satellite communications are being mainly addressed at the satellite level, such as (1) High Throughput Satellites (HTS) with multi-beam and frequency reuse capabilities; (2) low-cost micro-satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations; (3) higher millimetre wave frequencies; or (4) more flexible payloads components to dynamically modify satellite antenna beam patterns in orbit to respond to market demands. However, satellite ground segment network architectures (satellite hubs, satellite terminals and networking equipment within the satellite networks) have not followed this evolution, lacking in prevalent standards: functionalities are mainly deployed on vendor-specific network appliances, which execute specific functions. This leads to a network infrastructure settings too prone to vendor locking, too complicated to manage when operating together solutions from various vendors, and too hard to change in behaviour.
In this context, VITAL project’s core proposition is the introduction of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies within the satellite ground segment networks, which is anticipated to be a necessary step in their evolution. SDN and NFV technologies can bring greater flexibility to satellite network operators (SNOs), reducing both operational and capital expenses in deploying and managing SDN/NFV-compatible networking equipments within the satellite networks. In addition, the adoption of SDN/NFV into the satellite networks can eventually pave the way for a more flexible and agile integration and operation of combined satellite and terrestrial networks.
VITAL (VIrtualized hybrid satellite-TerrestriAl systems for resilient and fLexible future networks) is an ambitious project targeting the development and validation of reference architectural models for the virtualisation of satellite networks and its integration in terrestrial-satellite hybrid settings. This will enable the realisation of a multi-domain service orchestration and resource management framework that will be the key technological enabler for meeting the requirements of an integrated satellite-terrestrial network for the 5G era.
The solutions developed in VITAL will enable improved coverage, optimized communication resources use and better network resilience, along with improved innovation capacity and business agility for deploying communications services over combined networks. VITAL will address the design and validation of a hybrid architectural framework, the required mechanisms to enable virtualization of SatCom network components, including performance optimisation and implementation of a number of virtualised functions, and the design of an SDN- enabled, federated resources management framework, embedding strategies and algorithmic solutions to provide end-to-end communication services. Proof of Concept validation of VITAL solutions and enabling technologies through a co

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Immediately after the kick-off meeting, held at Trento on February 25/26, 2015, the organisational setup and technical work on the project was accelerated. The project was technically in progress since the beginning of February.
The initial step in the project was to consolidate the use cases and scenarios in order to capture the different traits of introducing SDN/NFV technologies in satellite domain, and also clearly outlining the link towards flexible and resilient multi-domain SatCom-terrestrial approaches that leverage the SDN/NFV framework. In order to pursue this effort, the partners took a two-phased approach:
• To analyse the current SatCom ground segment architectures, business model and general SatCom operational characteristics including the roles and business actors/service models in SatCom environment;
• To undertake a deeper analysis of the SDN/NFV enabling technologies that are currently under discussion and various levels of maturity, including an overview of its application across different network domains and technologies, spanning from academic to industrial, and standardisation/open source projects/initiatives.
This initial analysis during the first 2 months in the project led to the major next step to revise the scenarios and use cases that were initially identified in the technical annex, and consolidate them based on the overarching directions of the project. This led to the reclassification of the project scenarios and use cases. The definition of the scenarios and use cases were applied based on the progressive path, considering that Scenario 1 is mainly focussed on extracting the benefits of virtualization of the SatCom ground segment platforms including the gateway elements and the terminal elements. The second and third scenarios focused on hybrid SatCom-terrestrial networks, both from a single administrative domain and multiple domains perspective, with the second scenario focusing on the SatCom backhauling aspect for 4G/5G networks in order to improve capacity and coverage, and further to optimize different services (e.g., edge services leveraging Mobile Edge Computing over satellite) and the third scenario focussing on federated services for SatCom-terrestrial access.
The scenarios and use cases were elaborated based on different considerations, including technology-centric, service-centric, business-centric, architecture centric aspects, and each scenarios were substantiated with the associated actors and outlining the specific challenges and enabling technologies associated to the use cases. Furthermore, a brief analysis on the market potential of the use cases were identified, which will be analysed later in the project in detail for the business models and techno-economic studies. The scenarios and use cases are elaborated in deliverable, D2.1.
During the elaboration of the use cases and scenarios, the partners realised the complexity in defining different terminologies tied to the concepts relevant to VITAL, and hence spent the effort to clarify the terminologies to be adopted in the project, which after several iterations, consolidated to a common terminology view, which is used by the project.
As soon as the first draft scenarios and use cases were prepared, in order to complete the milestone, MS5, the partners started to discuss about the methodology to approach the requirements analysis, which is a predominant work in order to draft the system architecture. The approach chosen to derive a concrete set of requirements for the VITAL system. The requirements categorization was done in order to arrive at a very early draft of general and business=related requirements in order to put in place an initial architectural view, departing from the direction set in the Technical Annex. In order to capture clearly the requirements, initially an analysis of the requirements per use case was carried out. Later, the technical and business requirements were drafted based on the analysis, in order to

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

VITAL has an ambitious goal to transform convergence between SatCom and terrestrial networks, leveraging the SDN/NFV paradigm. While the SDN/NFV concepts are starting to pave its way into the carrier network domain, allowing more flexible control of communication networks, it is not yet explored within the SatCom domain. Furthermore, the integrated network management infrastructure as proposed in VITAL to achieve flexible and easier hybrid inter-networking between the two domains and in combination with the intelligent NFV infrastructure will create an innovative step in the terrestrial-satellite interworking space with opportunities to create applications offering seamless delivery across the domains. Standards bodies like ETSI, IETF and ONF dealing with SDN/NFV technologies have acknowledged the priority and interests of seeking innovative approaches to address multi-domain network infrastructure management. VITAL will not only contribute to this path, but will also provide practical evidence of their applicability, as well as valuable feedback to the scientific community and industry fora.
A clear impact expected from VITAL is the creation of new market players who can develop and bring to the service providers and operators in order to offer competitive and integrated solutions for SatCom and terrestrial networks with high capacity, economically efficient service provisioning and associated transparent business models. In this way, VITAL will offer competitive solutions for different stakeholders of the SatCom/Terrestrial domains, including operators. Service providers, vendors and customers as established in the technical annex.
To clearly address these aspects and to realize the impact achievement goal, the consortium has adopted a multi-faceted direction, with the involvement of OTE and HSAT as the terrestrial and SatCom operators (being from the same parent organization is an important step for both OTE and HSAT to validate the VITAL solutions which can be quickly integrated and tested in their networks). The software integrator/vendor partners, OneAccess and INCS, are focused to move rapidly from concept and design to implementation and validation of the VITAL concepts. This is also evident from recent efforts from OneAccess to enter the NFV market space. Further, the involvement of SYNAP, UPC and CNES together with the coordination of CNET and NCSRD will create the environment to implement the concrete plan to extend NFV/SDN concepts and implementation to the SatCom segment and the development of federated network/service orchestration platforms for multi-domain environments.
Standardization is a key goal identified by the project towards achieving the project impact as discussed in the deliverable D6.6, and the partners in VITAL project, are committed to initiate pre-standardization activities at an early phase of the project to ensure that impact can be achieved already during the project lifecycle and beyond, also in line with the standardization timeframe. ETSI NFV specification group has advanced with the Telco network virtualization and within this framework; VITAL partners will be able to create a work item (feasibility study, for example) within the ETSI SES in close cooperation with the NFV ISG. The partners also plan to explore relevant opportunities within IETF/IRTF (within the SDNRG/NFVRG) to identify potential opportunities and relevant candidate working groups. Further, the industry groups and open source initiatives of relevance, including ONF (Open Network Foundation) will be monitored continuously by the consortium to exploit any possible opportunity to make an impact within the standards organizations. The project partners will strongly disseminate the concept and business opportunities to industry specific groups including the 5GPPP Working Groups and other industry specific events including EUCNC, SatCom operators conference etc to create a convincing case for VITAL technology to its relevant sta

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Record Number: 186501 / Last updated on: 2016-07-13