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Software Defined Networks and Network Function Virtualization Testbed within FIRE+

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SoftFIRE (Software Defined Networks and Network Function Virtualization Testbed within FIRE+)

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

Networks are going through a deep transformation caused by the progressive Softwarization of systems and functions. The themes of Software Defined Networks and Network Function Virtualization are prominent in this area. They promise to change the way networks are controlled and managed. In order to promote these technologies to the largest extend in Europe, the entire industry is working to adopt these concepts and to bring to the market innovative products.
Several individual testbeds have been already created but they are very focused on individual needs and experimentations. There is a strong need for an open and generally available solution to catalyze the potentiality of a wider European Industry (in particular smaller organization such as SMEs or smaller research entities) that can learn, use and exploit these important technologies.

This is important for Society because the softwarization process will have impact on many different applications domains and one of the first ones will be the communications capabilities. These new approaches to (telco)communications can change the way networks are organized, used and exploited. Getting better ideas and guarantee openness and programmability of this impart part of the infrastructure is a common objective that developed Countries are pursuing differently. Europe has a special approach to technologies centered on fairness, privacy and security. These features should be reflected also in the evolution and consolidation of future networks. So it makes sense to have a large EU initiative in the domain of NFV/SDN/5G networks.

The SoftFIRE testbed offers the possibility to assess and improve programmable solutions in the realm of SDN/NFV and 5G. Three key capabilities are considered as the focus of the project: programmability, interoperability and security. The SoftFIRE project’s main objective is to demonstrate and assess the level of maturity of adopted solutions and to show how they can support the full potential of these capabilities (NFV/SDN and 5G solutions) in an open real world infrastructure by creating, nurturing and supporting an ecosystem of third parties able to make use of the SoftFIRE testbed and to functionally extend it.

The Interoperability goal guarantees the fact that different testbeds designed with different scopes and purposes and using different technologies are federated in such a way to provide a wider usable infrastructure. Programmability refers to the fact that as many as possible companies/entities will be involved in programming the platform so that it will be extensively used, proved and improved. Security refers to the fact that the platform needs to guarantee higher levels of security because it will be the central nervous system of the communication capability system. Without security the entire design of a programmable and software based infrastructure is not future proof.
The main objective of first year Project was to demonstrate the Interworking of different solutions and capabilities. This has led the activities
towards these major results:
• Objective 1: Setup and availability of an interworking platform in order to support the needs of the first open call
• Objective 2: Setup and availability of a middleware platform to be offered and used by experimenters in the first open call
• Objective 3: Preparation and execution of the first open call (comprising also a plugtest, renamed InteropTest due to ETSI IPR).

The first part of the year has been devoted to create a viable infrastructure that could support third parties’ experiments. This objective required setting up connectivity, update and modify the existing individual testbeds in order to reach interoperability and to customize virtualization components in such a way to be compatible. On top of this infrastructure, the project has integrated, developed and customized a middleware layer usable for supporting further virtualization functionalities and started to build a security framework.
The second part of the year was devoted to support the launch and execution of the first Open Call and to run the experiments on the federated testbed. Six experiments have been selected over twenty-six proposals. The SoftFIRE project has been able to create an interested community willing to make use of the federated testbed to develop services and applications on the platform. The creation of the ecosystem has been possible thanks to a very extensive set of dissemination and exploitation actions that have had an international impact. SoftFIRE can be considered the only open federated testbed in the realm of NFV/SDN technologies. During the second part of the year, there has been acceleration within the project in order to consider possible extensions aiming at initial solutions for 5G. This has positioned SoftFIRE as one interesting and leading project in the real adoption and consolidation of the NFV/SDN technologies.
The currently available testbeds are very specific and are used by actors to propose and consolidate specific approaches to NFV/SDN. The SoftFIRE approach has been different: it has created the technological conditions for allowing different approaches. It makes available a largely distributed infrastructure, some valuable network functions and an overall orchestration capability. It is up to the users and experimenters to focus on the technical issues that are deemed most important or with higher priority. This is a great progress with respect to the state of art because the platform is not intended to prove a single technology withing the realm of NFV/SDN/5G but it is offering the possibility to really exploit a platform.

This has been proved by the several experimentations that have been executed. The project has created a good ecosystem of interested entities. They have participated to the first open call and they have been in touch with the project by means of events and other possibilities.
Some companies have found the approach important and they have requested more info on how to be involved in the further steps of the community.

A number of SMEs and interested organizations have expressed their interest in using SoftFIRE for advanced developments and further usage. This community has the possibility to be quite important in terms of innovation and introduction of new NFV/SDN/5G solutions. The availability of an open and widely available platform has proved important in order to allow the ability to freely experiment new concept and ideas. The second and third Open Call will consolidate this trend and will further demonstrate the possibility to aggregate around a viable platform a strong technical community.
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