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ACINO Report Summary

Project ID: 645127
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ACINO (Application Centric IP/Optical Network Orchestration)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2017-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Applications and verticals that support specific business processes will ultimately drive the evolution of transport networks towards 5G and beyond with their always more demanding requirements. Their traffic is usually served by a grooming layer, typically IP/MPLS, which aggregates multiple small flows into large ones that can be cost-effectively supported by the underlying optical layer. This grooming process results in an indirect relationship between the applications and the network that implies an inaccurate mapping of application needs to the service they receive, since the requirements imposed by the grooming layer to the optical layer are the result of an aggregation of diverse parameters requested by different applications. While offering the best possible service characteristics to each application at the optical transport layer is theoretically achievable, it would be prohibitively expensive and energy-hungry. Therefore, a smarter approach is needed.

The ACINO project propose to develop and demonstrate a dynamic, application-centric, multi-layer SDN network orchestrator, where the traffic of each application receives a tailored service at each layer of the transport network, thereby overcoming the gap that the grooming layer introduces between application service requirements and their fulfilment in the lowers layer of the stack. This way, the network becomes more efficient, since network resources are used efficiently to meet but not needlessly exceed the requirements of the applications. The applications, in turn, could exploit – and even be engineered to take advantage of – the on-demand and personalized reservation of network connectivity, resources, reliability, security, etc. As a result, the needs of business customers of transport networks deploying emerging medium-large bandwidth-consuming applications will be catered for, while smaller flows from consumer or business customers that do not match the granularity of an optical service can still be groomed together with other flows having similar requirements. The high-level ACINO concept is outlined in Figure 1.

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

ACINO started its activity with the characterization of the requirements of multiple applications that can be served by an application-centric transport network. Required services have been categorized into broadband services, cloud services, machine-based services and other advanced services. This study fed the identification of multi-layer network operations that can support the defined services, the required technology and the reference network. The consortium then identified 6 use cases that will validate the ACINO concept, by means of multi-layer network operations carried out by the network orchestrator (a simplified schema is provided in Figure 2).

The consortium identified the requirements of the orchestrator and selected ONOS as the open-source framework for its development. ONOS has been modified to support the architecture, multi-layer network model, and operations defined in ACINO. New southbound drivers, based on existing and emerging standards (e.g. the ONF Transport-API) have been implemented in ONOS to manage the IP and optical layers. ACINO defined key primitives and parameters that allow applications to explicitly specify requirements for network services without delving into the details of the underlying technologies, by means of a newly-developed controller-agnostic intent-based interface.

Intents from applications are transformed into installable paths by resorting to multi-layer application-centric algorithms developed in Net2Plan, an open-source optimization tool that has been interfaced with ONOS. ACINO defined an algorithmic framework that relies on multi-layer provisioning of individual connections and on global re-optimization and online planning procedures. Application-centric decision policies operating mostly at the IP layer, which consider many parameters such as service latency, availability, security, have been included into this algorithmic framework and compared with non-application-centric policies. This comparison highlighted the benefits of the ACINO approach in terms of satisfaction of applications’ requirements, while using an amount of resources comparable to non-ACINO solutions. The project also identified a cost-model and will perform a techno-economic analysis based on these algorithms.

Two testbeds, a physical and an emulated one, have been setup. Both are being used to validate the defined use cases. Two relevant demonstrations have already been carried out: policy-based IP or optical restoration and in-flight secure transmission as a service. In both cases, application requirements were used to select the most proper operation at either the packet or optical layer.

The outcomes of the first two reporting periods of the project have been disseminated and communicated, with more than fifty different dissemination activities (articles, presentations, tutorials, etc.). Moreover, the members of the consortium have been very active in the standardization bodies (IETF and ONF) and in contributing to open source communities (ONOS).

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)

Verticals and applications owners will benefit from a transport ecosystem that is capable of “talking their language”. An application-centric approach will allow service providers to rise in the food chain and provide value-added services instead of just transport services, increasing their profitability. This will ultimately affect the experience of end users, predominantly due to the better ability to control the required service characteristics.

Network operators will be able to transfer, protect from failures, and secure large amounts of data generated by applications in a more effective and automated way. Their offering will be enhanced, thanks to an SDN orchestrator deploying advanced application-centric algorithms that can fulfil the strict requirements imposed by their customers, without incurring into the potential service level agreement violations that current algorithms and solutions would generate. This implies a reduction of costs and energy, since there will be no need to evolve the infrastructure to cope with more stringent application requirements. Furthermore, the effort of the project in standardizing and implementing common interfaces for controlling different technological domains will foster a more competitive and open market based on industry open standards, where operators can diversify risks.

ACINO is based on the most advanced state of the art of packet and circuit networking capabilities, in the form of adaptive networks, which can use the network resources in a flexible manner. Therefore, a successful ACINO project will provide strong motivation for increasing the capabilities of the network, giving European system vendors and subsystems/component vendors an advantage in building an alternative food chain geared towards more flexible solutions.

The knowledge gathered with the development of the orchestrator will give to control plane vendors, consultancy providers and SDN application developers an advantage in understanding the commercial viability of various multi-layer application use-cases and the know-how to develop the required control software for them.

Related information

Record Number: 186604 / Last updated on: 2016-07-14
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