SDN Initiative Creates Subcommittee to Address SDN, NFV Fragmentation

Cagatay Buyukkoc, AT&T


The pre-industrial committee will analyze and evaluate potential methodologies, make recommendations and create industrial agreements, as well as look at opportunities and support Proof of Concepts around key technologies.

There has been some fragmentation in the implementation of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) frameworks, so the IEEE SDN Initiative recently set up a committee to address this fragmentation as networks move toward 5G.

The main objectives of the pre-industrial committee are to investigate and analyze technical and economic condition and to foster interoperability and feasibility of SDN and NFV technologies. Supporting network architectural frameworks in a holistic way for the 5G era is another objective of  the IEEE SDN Initiative. The committee will analyze and evaluate potential methodologies, make recommendations and create industrial agreements, as well as look at opportunities and support Proof of Concepts (POCs) around key technologies. To increase collaboration and reduce duplication, the pre-industrial committee will establish relationships with other groups around the world doing relevant work.

The committee has established some short-term and long-term objectives, which include identifying use cases and POCs, and defining the experimental best practices for validating them. The pre-industrial committee will also explore and contribute to open systems while providing an architectural framework as a starting point, as well potentially creating IEEE certification services for SDN/NFV to foster an environment of trust that supports industrial adoption.

Ultimately, the philosophy of the committee is to rethink everything, including software, automation, control, next-generation base stations and mobile edge, spectrum, complexity and resilience, among other things. It started with a workshop on Mobile Edge Cloud, held in mid-November, which emphasized the importance of industrial and academic collaboration, as well as the significance of the IEEE SDN Initiative goals and the workshop activities, in that the work will impact the speed and ubiquity of interoperable software-defined networks for decades to come.

The major thrust of the workshop itself was to emphasize the 5G era and how some key concepts must be rethought to support and prepare for future. One of the initial collaborations is with Princeton University and Stanford University, as well as POC support for the Open Networking Lab (ON.lab), non-profit organization established by SDN inventors and leaders from Stanford and UC Berkeley, to foster an open source community that will develop tools and platforms to realize the full potential of SDN.

Workshop attendees set out to define the (Open) Mobile Edge Cloud:

“An (open) cloud platform that uses some end-user clients and located at the “mobile edge” to carry out a substantial amount of storage (rather than stored primarily in cloud data centers) and computation (including edge analytics, rather than relying on cloud data centers) in real time, communication (rather than routed over backbone networks), and control, policy and management (rather than controlled primarily by network gateways such as those in the LTE core).”

The pre-industrial committee also discussed the need for a new architectural design philosophy for network infrastructures, including wireless, which encompasses a software-defined, virtualized and programmable ecosystem and addresses aspects of densification such as diversity, self-backhauling, and Multi-RATs.

This design approach would use distributed system principles, such as auto-management, resilience, and software architecture, as well as investigate techno-economical implications, bearing in mind that next-generation core and RAN networks are already being re-architected in the industry, with edge being added as a new component that will enable new application areas.

Presentations included the work being done around the softRAN and how that would fit within the Mobile Edge Cloud concept of the workshop; the vision, role and capabilities brought by the Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacenter (CORD) framework, new direction of building an infrastructure using commodity components and enabling open source and whitebox approaches; and the Mobile-CORD – extensions to support mobility and edge concepts.

Other topics of discussion at the workshop included the need to rethink control loops, and several other areas which encompasses a wide range of elements, including:

  • Central control, orchestration, management and policy;
  • Centralized orchestration, service composition, resiliency, policy extraction, coordination, and management; 
  • Distributed and programmable data planes; 
  • Edge control, management and policy, and analytics;
  • End device control;
  • And; big data analytics.

Unification of ETSI/mobile edge computing and fog computing ideas on a common Cloud platform are seen as particularly important for the pre-industrial committee going forward. ETSI/mobile edge computing is described as offering “application developers and content providers cloud-computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the mobile network. This environment is characterized by ultra-low latency and high bandwidth as well as real-time access to radio network information that can be leveraged by applications.”

Fog computing, meanwhile, has been defined as “a network architecture that uses one or more end-user clients or near-user edge devices to carry out a substantial amount of storage (rather than stored primarily in cloud data centers), communication (rather than routed over backbone networks), and control, configuration, measurement and management (rather than controlled primarily by network gateways such as those in the LTE core).”

One of the main conclusions of the workshop is that mobile edge will be a key intersection where 5G is based. In the meantime, the pre-industrial committee of the SDN Initiative plans to host another meeting in the next six months, with bi-weekly meetings going forward to work toward creating a common architecture across the industry, unify the approaches, and look at what additional POCs should be scheduled in 2016 and beyond.



Cagatay BuyukkocCagatay Buyukkoc graduated from METU, Ankara with EE BS and MS degrees and a PhD degree from University of California, Berkeley in EECS. He also obtained an Executive MBA on International Business from Wharton. He held various technical and management positions in AT&T Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, ZTE, Cisco and AT&T. He works for AT&T Architecture and Design organization as a Lead MTS, leading efforts on various SDN/NFV frameworks and RAN evolution target architecture.



Eileen HealyEileen Healy is a proven change agent who knows how to deliver solutions by crafting vision and executing strategy leading concrete results. She has been a member of the IEEE since 1982 and worked in the telecommunications industry for even longer. Eileen started as a network analyst helping an international financial brokerage minimize their costs for international telex and voice calls. Driven by her love for this work, she went on to study electrical engineering at UC Berkeley where her passion for communications landed her an unprecedented role as the only undergraduate working as a teaching assistant in Dr. John Whinnery’s optics and microwave lab while earning her BSEE. She then worked for Pacific Bell where she was the liaison to Stanford University’s Telecommunications Institute providing industry perspective and guest lecturing on development in commercial optical networks. As Vice-Chairman of ANSI’s subcommittee on Digital Hierarchies, she helped shape the SONET and SDH optical standards. Later, she helped to launch Pacific Bell Mobile Services where she and her colleagues bucked the trend in the U.S. and supported the emerging GSM standards leading to the widespread deployment in the U.S. She founded two companies that successfully supported the growth of mobile networks and services. She is an accomplished senior executive who consistently delivers results by remaining on the cutting-edge of changing market place dynamics. She has worked in the Metro-Ethernet Forum, the Cloud Services Forum and participated in the NFV Forum before its integration into ETSI. She is currently actively involved in the IEEE SDN Initiative holding various roles including the Editor-in-Chief of the SDN Newsletter.



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