The 5G Virtual Software Network Area will allow testing and developing of new mechanisms in the areas of Network Function Virtualization and Cloud Networking, focusing on current and future trends and paying special attention to those aspects that require experimentation in order to drive the research and to ensure interoperability solutions (i.e. avoiding vendors lock-in). Examples of technologies that could be deployed, tested and enhanced in the 5TONIC Laboratory are:

This comprises not only the evaluation of vEPC-alike approaches where control plane and data plane are split, and the control plane is virtualized (virtual EPC), but also the Wireless and Mobile extensions that are for example being standardized at the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) to make OpenFlow capable of controlling & configuring wireless networks.

The ETSI NFV ISG is currently looking at interoperability for the Orchestrator Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM), Orchestrator Virtual Network Function Manager (VNFM), VNFM Virtual Network Function (VNF), and VNF Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI). Interoperability will not only imply validating different solutions from different providers but also evaluating different deployment and realization choices.

The ETSI NFV ISG is also looking at layered architectures (e.g., a hierarchy of orchestrators). The goal would be to analyze how multiple orchestrators interact, evaluating potential deployment showstoppers.

It is necessary to test how the NFV infrastructure interact with legacy OSS/BSS and how legacy OSS/BSS systems will need to evolve in order to support NFV (e.g. requirements for the OSS/BSS Orchestrator interface and the OSS/BSS Element Manager (EM) interface).

Testing of different deployment options is needed in order to facilitate the design of a migration plan in real scenarios.

This will include for example experiments aimed at evaluating the introduction of new network capabilities by activating new VNFs without shutting down old components, and service enhancements for specific customers by activating specific VNFs dedicated to specific customers via means of tailored forwarding graphs.

Addressing aspects such as optimization, scheduling, portability and reliability.

This would involve both the 5G Wireless and the Virtual Software Network areas of the Laboratory and would comprise the evaluation of wireless virtualization techniques. Some of them have been mentioned before, such as the SDN extensions to OpenFlow for wireless technologies, but additional ones involving for example cloud RAN and functional split in multi-tenant virtualized infrastructures could also be evaluated.

NFV Infrastructure federation. This would comprise the evaluation of solutions involving NFV infrastructure from different administrative domains. Solutions such as the ones known as SDX could be evaluated and further developed.

Development and practical assessment of energy-efficient NFV mechanisms.

Support to Open Source efforts. Contributions to relevant efforts such as OpenMANO, OpenDayLight, OpenStack and OPNFV could be validated in the Laboratory. Evaluation of new efforts that could appear in the future, paying also special attention to inter-operability issues, could also take place in the Laboratory.

Via the use of VNF Pools. Design, development and evaluation of pooling mechanisms to provide enhanced reliability to NFV.

Evaluation of security mechanisms for NFV infrastructure. Since NFV opens the door for new security threats (e.g., how to provide real multi-administrator isolation), there is a real need to i) identify these new security threats and assess their severity; ii) develop and/or test security solutions; iii) practical evaluation of the impact of certain attacks (e.g., performance of a virtualized router when subjected to a flooding attack).

Internet-of-Things

Within the 5G virtual software area, particular attention will be paid to specific requirements of vertical sectors, as well as on the domain of Internet-of-Things. As particularly relevant verticals, we can mention finance, energy, health and administration. Some of these verticals are particularly sensitive to machine-to-machine communications, and Internet-of-Things areas. Aspects such as simplified authentication, very large number of addresses, and liquid server access, will be analyzed with particular detail in their relation to the specific requirements that IoT may imply.

The architecture of an initial set-up (to be further extended according to the needs and interests of the Laboratory members) is shown in the figure below.

The Laboratory includes infrastructure allowing the deployment and/or testing of: different NFV/SDN domains, multi-layer control & orchestration, multi-tenancy NFV/SDN, multi-vendor NFV/SDN. Secure external access, both for control and for distributed inter-site connection will be also provided.