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Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2018-06-30

Network management is essential to maintain an operational network and usable network services for network operators and end users respectively. In the existing network management paradigm, network operators typically have to manually trouble-shoot all kinds of network problems such as equipment faults, link failures, performance downgrades and bottlenecks, security attacks, software bugs, among others. Moreover, existing network management solutions often require lengthy re-configuration of the network and even deployment of new replacement equipment to mitigate network problems. These actions causes disruptions in the services and violations in service level agreements with customers. Consequently, the current network management paradigm incurs increasing capital and operational expenditures for network operators and compromised service quality of end users.
The SELFNET project achieves the design and implementation of an innovative autonomic network management framework to realize Self-Organizing Networking (SON) capabilities in managing network infrastructures. The framework enables automatic detection and mitigation of a range of common (mobile) network problems that are currently still manually addressed by network operators, thereby reducing significantly the operational expenditures. Moreover, a software networking approach is leveraged to also reduce the capital expenditures by replacing hardware-based approaches. Furthermore, the autonomic operations in network management resolves network problems in a significantly accelerated manner through speedy service deployment, and this leads to minimized service disruption to the end users.
The SELFNET autonomic network management framework has been successfully designed and prototyped, with all the components integrated and validated. The system-level validation, demonstration and performance test results show that it is capable of addressing major network management challenges faced by network operators nowadays in a highly efficient way. The SELFNET framework is able to achieve self-protection against security threats such as distributed denial of service, self-healing against network failures/faults such as problems caused by misconfiguration, self-optimization of network traffic such as video flows in congested networking conditions. Moreover, the validated autonomic control loops show the system’s capabilities in terms of self-monitoring and detection, SON autonomic management, SON orchestration and virtual infrastructure management, and so on, meeting the corresponding SELFNET project’s objectives set at the beginning of the project.
Furthermore, the tests and results have demonstrated the capabilities of the SELFNET system in contributing to 5G PPP program-level KPIs. In particular, the project has focused on service creation/deployment times and supports the vision in 5G PPP to reduce these times from 90 hours on average in 4G to 90 minutes in 5G. The measured performance results show that from triggering to finishing deploying a SON service to address a particular network management scene in the demonstrated use cases only takes from under 1 minute to a few minutes, completely meeting the requirements of 5G service deployment times. In addition, the use cases have also demonstrated their potentials in contributing additional technical or societal KPIs such as secure and reliable Internet with zero downtime, bandwidth saving, hardware acceleration feeding the low latency KPI, ultra-high-definition video applications and quality of experience optimization.
The outputs of SELFNET include software and hardware prototypes at both component and system level. Numerous dissemination and exploitation activities have been organized to promote the outcomes of the project. For instance, the project has produced more than 80 publications in international journals, conference proceedings etc., in addition to considerable contributions to 5G PPP program activities.
The SELFNET project has achieved significant progress beyond the state of the art, in particular, in the following technical areas. Firstly, SELFNET achieves Autonomic Network Management powered by artificial intelligence and substantially extends the current 4G Self-Organising Network (SON) concept in the physical layer to both 5G physical and virtual domains. Secondly, SELFNET achieves Multi-level, Multi-tenant-aware Network Monitoring, which is able to collect and analyses performance metrics at multiple levels: physical infrastructure, virtual infrastructure and traffic flows with multi-tenancy awareness, thereby enabling timely situation awareness of 5G network infrastructures and services, and facilitate speedy and more precise identification of common network problems. Thirdly, SELFNET achieves Automated Physical and Virtual Infrastructure Deployment that seamlessly integrates management of physical and virtual infrastructures, and thus enables automated deployment of 5G infrastructures and services running on top of them, including virtualisation services, cloud computing, Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), SDN/NFV services and value-added services such as Service Function Chaining (SFC). In addition, a 5G topology viewer allows visualizing correlated physical and virtual infrastructure elements and mobile users’ connectivity in real time. Fourthly, SELFNET achieves Integrated SDN/NFV Apps Management that provides common Apps lifecycle mechanisms and procedures for various kinds of Apps including VNFs, SDN Apps, SDN controller Apps, and Physical Network Functions (PNFs) for backward compatibility. It is fully automated lifecycle management of NFV and SDN applications, from Apps encapsulation, onboarding, and instantiation to deployment, configuration, update/modification and termination. New Apps are made available in the system (and ready for deployment) with one-click action from the SELFNET GUI. The design takes a plugin-based approach for high extensibility.
The technical achievements in SELFNET as partially demonstrated in the above innovative technologies are expected to generate significant impact on the network management of new generation mobile networks. The SELFNET autonomic network management significantly simplifies network management tasks and minimizes human intervention and labor in trouble-shooting complex network problems and even avoiding potential issues through automated and software networking based approaches, leading to reduced operational and capital expenditures at the network operators’ operational level. The developed and validated representative use cases include Self-healing against network failures or vulnerabilities for improved reliability, Self-protection against cyber-attack threats for improved security, and Self-optimization against network congestion for improved users’ quality of experience. Moreover, the creation and deployment times for infrastructures and their services are substantially reduced, from days to minutes at the service provisioning level, fully meeting 5G PPP’s corresponding KPI for 5G service creation and deployment. At the societal level, SELFNET contributes to enhanced support for ultra-high definition video applications, quality of experience and bandwidth usage, as shown in the Self-optimization use case. Moreover, SELFNET contributes to more secured and resilient network and services for the end users, as shown in the Self-healing and Self-protection use cases.
SELFNET Final Framework