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5GEx Report Summary

Project ID: 671636
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 5GEx (5G Exchange)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Market fragmentation results from having a multitude of telecommunications network and cloud operators each with a footprint focused on a specific region. This makes it difficult to deploy cost effective infrastructure services, such as connectivity or compute resources, spanning multiple countries as no single operator has a big enough footprint. Even if operators largely aim to provide the same infrastructure services (VPN connectivity, compute resources based on virtual machines and block storage), inter-operator collaboration tools for providing a service spanning several administrative boundaries are very limited and cumbersome. This makes service development and provisioning very time consuming, inefficient and expensive. Moreover, there is a systemic industry and market challenge in that there are no general offerings of “Internet style” multi-domain predictable and assured service quality connectivity and softwarization from any end-point to any end-point of the Internet.

While recognizing these issues as well as the innovation potentials (including those that are not even discovered) that can be unleashed by finding ways to resolve these issues the 5GEx project has the following vision.

We envision a one stop shop Anything as a Service (XaaS) as the key service offering in future 5G networks, where service fulfilment, assurance and billing can be realized irrespective of the location, content, quality or volume of the service (from single user to retails and to verticals) via open and standard multi-provider orchestration interfaces.

Therefore, the 5G Exchange (5GEx) project aims at creating a multi-provider orchestration framework and deploying it as an enabler platform into its pan-European sandbox to reduce XaaS service creation time from “90 days to 90 mins”, where this performance notion is used in general to point to the target to significantly improve agility and speed up deployment of new services or service capabilities. Primarily and subordinate providers will automatically embed, (re-)provision, monitor and report according to their roles and responsibilities in the end-to-end XaaS service chain. The orchestration process automation and the sharing of resources will significantly reduce costs in both capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operational expenditures (OPEX). The 5GEx reference architectural framework and scope are illustrated in Figure 1.

5GEx enablers will create opportunities for operators to buy, sell, and integrate XaaS in an automated and cost-effective manner. This also includes the offering and trading of the XaaS wholesale direct or indirect service elements, which are themselves 5GEx self-contained wholesale services. 5GEx is also defining and validating at the business information model, including economic and market mechanisms that promote efficiency of multi-domain services. 5GEx assesses the feasibility and performance of the proposed architecture and business models on a pan European multi-site sandbox testbed, where the working end-to-end system built by 5GEx is going to be deployed and explored. 5GEx impacts the operator’s community by identifying new challenges or elaborating on known ones, as well as pointing out ways going forward. This includes business opportunities through new concepts for implementing multi-provider multi-domain resource and service orchestration, and standardization through strong industry participation of all major stakeholders.

The project execution follows an iterative process, with three main design – implementation – experimentations cycles, in which the architecture and the system designs are revisited based on the lessons learned from the integration and experiments. Accordingly, the 5GEx framework will evolve incrementally to its fuller list of features until the end of the project. This process is complemented with (planed) contributions to the main standardization bodies including ETSI NFV, IETF/IRTF, ITU-T, ONF and IEEE and to open source communities.

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

During the first phase of the project, 5GEx focused on state-of-the-art analysis for finding the better specific ways to leverage upon existing solutions, identification and consolidation of key use case families, design of the multi-provider multi-domain orchestration architecture – including the study of the business aspects, necessary step to ensure that multi-provider collaboration increases operators’ profit – the implementation of the first prototype of the designed architecture and the set-up of the sandbox environment where the system will be deployed and evaluated. The objective of the state-of-the-art analysis is to obtain a clear picture of existing solutions (both from an architecture and from an implementation point of view) and their shortcomings as well as to obtain a clear picture of how 5GEx’s potential solutions will integrate into ETSI NFV ISG architecture and advance beyond.

The project has identified several use cases of interest for operators, classifying them into three families, characterized by the main functionality they provide: connectivity, Virtual Network Function as a Service (VNFaaS) and Slice as a Service (SlaaS) – all of these identified as building blocks for XaaS. 5GEx has derived functional and non-functional requirements from the use cases, which have been used to validate the architecture design. The project has defined several demonstrations to show the feasibility of the proposed 5GEx architecture, based on representative use cases implemented using the first 5GEx prototype. In the first phase, connectivity use cases are the main focus, then evolving to cover all the scope in the following iterations of the project (being SlaaS the most complex family to be demonstrated).

In the first iteration 5GEx has based its design and architecture on the main building blocks defined by the ETSI NFV ISG architecture, adding the interfaces and interactions needed to enable multi-provider orchestration. The project has then defined a software system design for implementation. This design heavily leverages on existing components provided by other European projects and by individual partners, with a clear aim of maximizing the impact of the project, by speeding up the implementation and integration.

A) Main innovation results:
A.1) Detailed break-down of the multi-domain orchestration process into the main functions relevant to a multi-provider multi-domain environment: discovery, bilateral negotiation, provisioning and assurance stages with their corresponding multi-domain reference points in a detailed multi-domain orchestration architecture.

A.2) The overall architecture designed in 5GEx is the key innovation of the project. Currently, a first subset of the architecture has been implemented in Prototype 1, and will be further refined in the second year of the project. The 5GEx architecture is based on a three-layer holistic techno-economic model, including:

A.2.a) Multi-operator wholesale relationships: a customer will specify the “Service” it requires via an electronic Service Manifest document to a provider. The provider will be the origin provider for that customer. This requires the origin provider to provide a Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) facility to the Customer. For fully cross-domain service deployments, the provider will need to engage with third parties to procure network resources, or compute resources, or other third party capability, in order to fulfil the full Customer request.

A.2.b) Multi-vendor inter-operability and within that, the possibility for Multi-technology: each orchestrator will be deployed to manage different kinds of technology (core networks, data centers, etc.) and will interact with a set of controllers that directly interact with the devices themselves. The controllers accept high-level commands from the orchestrators and each contains different device drivers depending on the technology of the underlying resources, and in this way 5GEx can address multi-technologies.

A.2.c) Physical resources integration among multiple domains: customers can include the full set of network resource options whether Access networks, e.g., LTE (wireless), DSL (wireline), IP/MPLS, optical/GMPLS, OpenFlow based Software Defined Networks or other network technologies, as well as the full set of compute options including virtual machines, storage, bare-metal hosts, or applications.

A.2.d) The initial definition of the 5GEx architecture has not only considered technology gaps but also business considerations. The architecture concepts are based on a revised vision of the ETSI NFV ISG framework, and is being contributed to relevant standards, namely ETSI, ITU-T and IETF.

A.3) The interfaces designed to enable multiple-domain resource orchestration as follows:

A.3.a) I2-RTadvertised interface: this interface enables the distribution of networking and IT entry-point information is addressed.

A.3.b) I2-RTbilateral interface: this interface allows one MdO to provide resource topology information to a remote MdO directly, without involving intermediate MdOs.

A.3.c) I2-RC interface: this interface spans between the Resource Orchestrators (ROs), ROs of two administrative domains with the purpose of allowing the client RO to program networking and IT resources at the server administrative domains via the RO.

A.3.d) I2-C interface: the different domains that comprise the 5GEx system share their catalogues containing Network Services, Network Functions (VNFs) or Resources, connecting the local Catalogue Management module to its homonym in each neighbor domain.

A.3.e) I2-S interface: this interface allows the authorized operators to provide the specification of network services (NS) or virtualized network functions (VNF) to be instantiated by means of providing their descriptors or using the identifier of the NS or VNF descriptors that the I2-S offering NFVO had reported a-prior via the I2-C interface.

A.3.f) I2-Mon interface: through this interface, the different administrative domains exchange monitoring information related to local domains involved in a specific service, to perform the overall service SLA verification.

A.4) The split of Network Function Virtualization Orchestrator (NFVO) into Network Service Orchestrator (NSO) and Resource Orchestrator (RO) for multi-domain interaction. Consequently, the introduction of resource Slice as a Service (SlaaS) for multi-domain RO-RO interworking. Note: ETSI NFV recently approached a similar NSO-RO functional split for single administration.

A.5) A bottom-up proof of concept prototype as an integration of the major concepts from FP7-UNIFY, FP7-T-NOVA, ETICS projects and advanced transport control towards the 5GEx system design.

A.6) Initial design and deployment of a large scale test-bed (the 5GEx sandbox) connecting 13 sites, including 4 operators providing the connectivity backbone, and emulating realistic Internet topologies of today.

B) Publications and presentations:
5 journal papers were published and 1 journal paper is under review; 15 conference papers were published; 2 book chapters (1 under submission); 3 white papers were published with open access; and 7 key invited talks/presentations were performed. It is worth highlighting the presentations of 5GEx to some industrial workshops such as the keynote at the IEEE Conference on Network Softwarization (NetSoft), or the ETSI workshop “From Research to Standardization”.

C) Standards and IPR:
Standardization and IPR activities are essential for the commercial success of the technologies developed within 5GEx. The project has been active in 5 different standardization bodies (IETF/IRTF, ONF, ETSI and ITU-T) with 3 standard contributions published and 4 more under progress at ITU-T; 3 work in progress documents at IETF/IRTF. The project has also contributed to the ONF in different aspects, such as the architecture revision, the Mobile Networks WG or the formation of the new Cross Stratum Orchestration (CSO) WG, where 5GEx is in charge of the report on gap analysis.

D) Workshops organization:
The organization of workshops is essential to disseminate the project results within the industry and scientific communities. So far, the project has co-organized a workshop at EuCNC on “NFV programmability” together with the 5G-PPP Software Networks WG, in which many FP7 and H2020 projects participated, attracting interest from many key players outside the project.

E) 5G-PPP activities and collaboration with other projects:
Active contribution to the 5G-PPP program is essential in order to coordinate efforts and gather sufficient critical mass to achieve impact in various fora. The project has been active in this type of activities. 5GEx has been visible in the Architecture WG, contributing to its first whitepaper with a multi-domain section. The Software Networks WG is co-chaired by a 5GEx representative ensuring drive and major contributions, e.g., to the first whitepaper. The project has also contributed to the Pre-Standardization, Network Management, Security and Vision WGs. Within the 5G-PPP program, it is worth highlighting the collaboration with 5G-Crosshaul, 5G-NORMA and SONATA projects, where different joint activities are taking place like architectural alignment, reusing of solutions and integrating demonstrations. 5GEx is also collaborating with other running FP7 projects, such as T-NOVA and UNIFY, by heavily building on results provided by these projects.

F) Other dissemination activities:
5Ex has devoted significant effort to disseminate the project achievements in various ways. The project has released the first (of three) release of its whitepaper. 5GEx activities and results have been presented in different scientific and industrial events, such as the Network Virtualization & SDN Europe event, the ETSI summit “5G: from myth to reality”, the EuCNC 2016 panel on Software Networks and 5G, the NetWorld 2020 event, FUSECO 2015 or the video shown in IEEE Globecom. In addition, 5GEx pushes for a strong online representation including Twitter, LinkedIn and a YouTube channel.

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)

5GEx is analyzing and defining the multi-operator problem by looking at three main dimensions: The first dimension – intra-operator multi-domain scenarios – is the ambition to harmonize in an effective way interworking elements that have different technologies and/or vendors including 5G networks. The second dimension – multi-operator scenarios – is to extend to the multi-operator cooperation to provide an E2E interworking and global cloud services, where tenants are given control where and what patter to deploy their service functions. In both these dimensions, 5GEx has the ambition to manage multi-domain heterogeneity according to SDN and NFV paradigms where network, compute and storage slicing and suitable virtualization must enable new service models (E2E service level). 5GEx will provide advances beyond the state of the art both in each level separately and in their harmonization in a solution that enables the new service models. The third dimension – business efficiency – is the proposition of new business models and economic mechanisms in the context of 5G for the provision of infrastructure (network, compute and storage) as a service, mitigating the inefficiencies of the current regime and enabling open markets and dynamic resource sharing.

In terms of the main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) identified by the 5G-PPP, 5GEx is mainly tackling the one related to the service creation time, by reducing the average service creation time cycle from 90 hours to 90 minutes. This will have a clear socio-economic impact, by enabling richer and faster reacting services according to the end-user demands. The multi-provider collaboration environment enabled by the 5G Exchange concept will also allow for more cost-effective approaches for operators, which will allow for cheaper products for the end user.

The impact achievement strategy of 5GEx is based on four key pillars: (i) technology platform: an actual technical implementation of the 5GEx cross-domain architectural model is a key impact driver for the project; (ii) Exchange sandbox: the presence of an actual prototype will allow to make real experiments on the Exchange sandbox, as well as to share with the full community a tangible asset on top of which specific solutions for the market can be worked out; (iii) Standardization and open source: cross-domain aspects and specific issues are substantially missing from the acting discussion in the main standardization bodies and for a, and hence, 5GEx is in the position of influencing the 5G network evolution by contributing to the key standardization bodies, as well as releasing key software components as open source; and (iv) Industry take-up: early efforts are concentrated in the organization of the first 5GEx industrial workshop, the kick-off of the 5GEx Innovation and Management Board (which will drive the innovation creation process in 5GEx, ensuring that the project results are really addressing the gaps to fill for the key stakeholders, and suggesting suitable strategies to convey the project innovation to the commercial market) and the active participation in the 5G-PPP community, ensuring that all the involved 5G stakeholders converge.

Related information

Record Number: 192805 / Last updated on: 2016-12-14
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