Today’s communication networks are designed to be deployed as a set of physical specialized components exchanging messages over standard interfaces. This challenges network operators which have to deal with large and increasing variety of proprietary hardware appliances. Consequently, managing network services is becoming more and more complex - not only the initial installation of such network services but also the maintenance became a time-intensive challenge. Hence, decoupling the software components from the underlying hardware is a promising concept which is targeted by Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).
NFV can be seen as one of the key enablers for the upcoming 5G network infrastructures by evolving network management in a way that network functions are running as software pieces only on top of standardized hardware. The Management and Orchestration (MANO) layer provides a centralized overview of all available resources and enables dynamic provisioning of services and management through the full life cycle from initializing, over fault handling, scaling, network slicing up to the point where the service is terminated.
Understanding the potential brought by the decoupling between hardware and software development cycles, AV and Fraunhofer FOKUS is committed to develop a novel core network architecture addressing both the specific challenges in delay and management complexity of data center technologies, as well as the requirements of next generation radio technologies. This novel network virtualization functionality is integrated in FOKUS' Open Baton NFV MANO Framework.
Since mature cloud computing solutions are already existing and commercially available, our research efforts target specific open issues in the area of cloud federation and the applicability of clouds to the Telco domain.
While intra-cloud service offerings can be handled today, the migration of services between clouds is still an open issue today. This is due to the lack of widely accepted standards and agreed inter-cloud interfaces. Our research is centered on cloud federation and seamless integration of services between different cloud providers. This enables a number of scenarios for different sectors (e.g. Energy – “Follow the sun", IT – “Shortest link to my virtual computer", etc.)
In the Telco domain, cloud scenarios for fixed and mobile services offer a range of new business models and revenue streams. Due to reduced requirements for upfront investment, out- and In-sourcing of services offers new possibilities to SMEs and startups to get their business from the ground. The flexibility and elasticity of the cloud in combination with cloud-based Telco SDPs allow operators to quickly adapt to new situations and react to market demands rapidly. Smaller companies and individuals benefit from a low risk of acquiring (on demand) high end computing infrastructure and are relived at the same time from time and resource consuming tasks like maintenance, security updates, etc.
Also for smart cities and in the context of the currently ongoing Future Internet discussions, cloud scenarios are highly interesting for supporting future applications, e-government services and regional service markets. Many regional data and service providers like governmental authorities, insurance companies, power suppliers, etc. would benefit from integrated processes to share data and enable the composition of new services (e.g. the “house-moving application").