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5G-CORAL: A 5G Convergent Virtualised Radio Access Network Living at the Edge

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 5G-CORAL (5G-CORAL: A 5G Convergent Virtualised Radio Access Network Living at the Edge)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-08-31

The 5G-CORAL project leverages on the pervasiveness of edge and fog computing in the Radio Access Network (RAN) to create a unique opportunity for access convergence. This is envisioned by the means of an integrated and virtualised networking and computing solution where virtualised functions, context-aware services, and user and third-party applications are blended together to offer enhanced connectivity and better quality of experience. The proposed solution contemplates two major building blocks, namely (i) the Edge and Fog computing System (EFS) subsuming all the edge and fog computing substrate offered as a shared hosting environment for virtualised functions, services, and applications; and (ii) the Orchestration and Control System (OCS) responsible for managing and controlling the EFS, including its interworking with other (non-EFS) domains (e.g. transport and core networks, distant clouds, etc.). As explained above the project tackles a three-tier architecture, focusing on the Edge of the network. The Edge of the network is evolving into one of the key elements of the 5G architecture in order to support the foreseen services, while at the same time is one of the main differentiating elements of 5G compared with previous generations. The Edge of the network, considering the more general view of it championed by 5G-CORAL which includes the Fog and volatile devices together with ETSI MEC deployments, is in a perfect position to provide critical low delay services, offloading of transport needs to the Core and applications leveraging from contextual information, which cannot be processed deeper in the network.
5G-CORAL is an ambitious project aiming to develop and showcase a three-tier (Fog, MEC, and Cloud) integrated 5G Edge platform in a two years framework. For this reason, during the first year, the project has combined development an design tasks; developing Proof-of-concept prototypes quickly after the initial design has been done, to refine the architecture of the solution. Work Package (WP) 1 is in charge of defining the set of use cases and scenarios to be used to challenge the architecture of the system. WP1 is also in charge of designing the baseline architecture of 5G-CORAL, which will be continuously refined based on the implementation experience gained. The 5G-CORAL platform relies on a distributed set of physical resources, possibly from different administrative domains, which are integrated to create a common virtualization infrastructure residing in the Fog/MEC/Edge simultaneously. This infrastructure is called the Edge and Fog Computing System (EFS) and is the main subject of Work Package 2 (WP2), which also deals with the definition of the Services, Functions, and Applications to be deployed on top of the EFS. The brain in charge of controlling, building, integrating and controlling the lifecycle of the virtual functions/applications deployed in the EFS, is the Orchestration and Control System (OCS), developed in Work Package 3 (WP3). 5G-CORAL aims at prototyping and showcasing the 5G Edge platform in several test sites located in Taiwan (Shopping Mall, High-speed Train) and Europe (Automotive). The development and installation of each test-site, together with the integration of all components into specific use cases is performed in Work Package 4 (WP4).
During the project, there have been fundamental advances in the development of a Fog based architecture compatible with ETSI MEC, defining its main building blocks and interfaces. This architecture substantially departs from previous work and has been validated, obtaining several figures of merit which prove its validity. The 5G-CORAL architecture's main characteristic is its flexibility, able to adapt from fully centralized scenarios to fully distributed. It is also able to operate under different orchestration platforms such as Kubernetes, OSM or forCes, a fully distributed orchestrator developed in the project.
The 5G-CORAL platform has been validated with real use cases including i) Multi-RAT GW, ii) 360 Video streaming, iii) Edge Robotics, iv) SD-WAN, v) High-Speed trains and vi) Automotive scenario.
Advancements beyond the SoA:
- An Orchestration and Control System capable of supporting (i) heterogeneous resources in terms of computing, networking, and storage capabilities, (ii) dynamic resources in terms of mobility and volatility;
- An Orchestration and Control System capable of discovering and integrating resources, including third-parties, across multiple access technologies, such as 3GPP, IEEE 802.11 Ethernet, Bluetooth and ZigBee.
- A detailed description of the micro service-based design principle for EFS atomic entities, i.e. the building blocks of EFS entities.
- A detailed description of the publish/subscribe communication framework between the EFS service platform and the EFS/non-EFS applications and functions.
- The selection of messaging protocols (DDS and MQTT), as the reference/baseline messaging protocols for the EFS following an in-depth analysis of state of the art protocols.
- A baseline EFS design for 5G-CORAL use cases, namely: Robotics, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), High-speed Train, IoT Multi-RAT Gateway and Connected Cars.
- Information model for unification of ETSI NFV, ETSI MEC, and TOSCA descriptors;
- Information model for common resource discovery across multiple radio access technologies;
- Control and management of resource-constrained and heterogeneous devices;
- Dynamic migration of virtualized applications and functions in distributed environment;
- Federation of edge and fog systems;
- PoC of an IaaS for managing the Fog Computing environment, namely fog05.
5G-CORAL Concept Figure
5G-CORAL Concept Figure with three tier integration