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VIrtualized hybrid satellite-TerrestriAl systems for resilient and fLexible future networks

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - VITAL (VIrtualized hybrid satellite-TerrestriAl systems for resilient and fLexible future networks)

Reporting period: 2016-08-01 to 2017-07-31

The role of satellite communications (SatCom) within the upcoming 5G era is being revisited as demonstrated by several industry white papers, referencing the satellite-terrestrial cooperation as part of the mobile networks of 2020. Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies, are anticipated to be a necessary step in the SatCom industry evolution to pave the way for fully integrated terrestrial and satellite network services.
The VITAL project is centered on the virtualization/abstraction of the satellite domain focusing on three scenarios: Satellite Virtual Network Operator (SVNO), where a satellite infrastructure provider offers a virtual satellite network (VSN) to its customers, Satellite backhauling, where the SatCom is used to bring connectivity to base-stations for increased capacity/coverage, and Hybrid satellite-terrestrial service delivery, for end-to-end network services spanning over satellite and terrestrial access.
Virtualization of SatCom functionalities has been investigated to evaluate its efficiency, resources consumption and performance. A hybrid terrestrial/satellite resource management framework has been developed where a significant role is played by the NFV Manager for the VNFs management of the SatCom domain, and by the Federated Network Resource Manager (FNRM) responsible of managing the end-to-end network service. Moreover, algorithmic solutions for the resource management framework has been addressed in VITAL focusing on capacity/traffic management, mobility management and reliability/resilience management. Finally, a Proof of Concept has been developed with the combination of real and emulated equipment.
The identified scenarios were firstly revised considering associated actors, enabling technologies and analyzing the requirements from a technical, business and functional perspective (D2.2). Based on this and a close collaboration with WP3 and WP4, the infrastructure and management elements were identified arriving at the definition of the VITAL architecture and its components (Figure 1).
The virtualization aspects of the SatCom ground segment was investigated developing the Sat-Cloud-RAN concept. The investigation on the decomposition of satellite GW elements between physical and virtual components shown that the isolation between network functions, access gateway and hub appears to be a promising trade-off in terms of performance, cost effectiveness and feasibility (Figure 2). The outcomes highlighted that NFV application to SatCom is not only a transition trend but will bring real benefits. The development of the NFV manager, a specialized entity to manage and orchestrate the SatCom NFV infrastructure, was carried out and provided for WP5 activity.
A framework for hybrid satellite/terrestrial resource management was studied (Figure 3) focusing also on the workflows for different management procedures. This clarified the formulation/assessment of algorithmic solutions and allowed to better define the VSN concept delineating the management components and how they relate to the Sat-Cloud RAN concept (Figure 4). Finally, the algorithmic solutions were assessed covering the areas of capacity, traffic, mobility, resilience and end-to-end service management (D4.5). The design of the FNRM have been carried out considering technical and administrative constraints due to the heterogeneity of the involved domains. FNRM design has been evolved following IAB feedbacks to capture business requirements that were not considered initially and the implementation of the FNRM was provided for WP5 activity.
A continuous consolidation of the physical and emulated testbeds was carried out discussing the software architecture and interfaces specification. The main elements of the physical testbed (Figure 5), are the cloud infrastructure for virtualized components, the LTE network consisting in the eNB and the LTE core network and the satellite physical network. A configuration with OpenSAND emulator was exploited to validate the emulation platform. The emulated testbed (Figure 6) is the composition of two single domains one running at CNET premises and the other one at NCSRD premises emulating a SatCom domain. A notable achievement was the release of a new version of OpenSAND including new features exploited in the experimentation. All the VITAL use cases were covered in the experimentation demonstrating the SDN/NFV advantages in terms of performance and agility, achieving fast deployment of Network Services and integrated coordination of both satellite and terrestrial segment (D5.5).
The project has identified three main components that are critical to the development of the federated VITAL system which has the potential to be exploited from a commercial as well as technological incubation perspective: the Sat-Cloud-RAN, the NFV Manager and the FNRM. The details on the exploitation of the results can be found in the D6.7 presenting also the contributions to the ETSI SES TC recognized as the most adequate place to exploit the VITAL results to contribute to SatCom standards. The project results were disseminated in 16 conference papers and 4 journals achieving the dissemination plan targets. To maximize the outreach of the projects outcomes, partners presented VITAL results at several venues. Three workshops were organised in collaboration with the SANSA project and 20 events were exploited to present VITAL results. Further dissemination activity details can be found in D6.5.
VITAL project has the ambitious goal to investigate and develop technologies for paving the way for a flexible integration between satellite and terrestrial technologies, creating opportunities for new applications offering and seamless delivery across the domains.
The introduction of SDN/NFV has a potential impact on SatCom operators allowing them to rely on general-purpose hardware, lowering the HW infrastructure cost by shifting CAPEX to OPEX, increasing the flexibility and facilitating the maintenance operations. A quicker adoption of SDN/NFV solutions in SatCom domain will impact on terrestrial operators interested in a flexible and cost-effective integration with SatCom enriching their services and coverage expansion. Moreover, SatCom equipment manufacturers will be allowed to bring innovation in the market focusing on network elements/products that are suitable to the SatCom-Terrestrial integration scenario (e.g. virtual CPE). A clear impact of the project is the creation of new market players, like SVNO, who can share the SatCom network infrastructure reducing the overall costs and having increased flexibility for their service provisioning. Indeed, several satellite operators are in the need of disengaging from deploying and managing satellite infrastructure at its entirety. Thanks to its resilience and ubiquitous coverage, satellite and terrestrial networks integration can efficiently tackle societal challenges such as transport and mobility, crisis management, healthcare, environmental monitoring and avoid “capacity crunch” in underserved areas. The soundness of the project potential impacts can be supported by the techno economic analysis carried out in the project. The analysis was focused on three contexts of interest and demonstrated the validity of the VITAL approach both in terms of cost reduction and service provision agility.
Figure 1. VITAL Architecture
Figure 3. Network resource management framework components
Figure 5. Physical testbed architecture
Figure 6. Emulated testbed architecture
Figure 2. Sat-Cloud-RAN variant selected within VITAL project
Figure 4. Illustration of the VSN descriptors managed by the SO