Overview of IEEE NetSoft Conference 2017 Paper: “X–MANO: Cross–domain Management and Orchestration of Network Services”

Antonio Francescon, FBK CREATE-NET, Italy; Giovanni Baggio, FBK CREATE-NET, Italy; Riccardo Fedrizzi, FBK CREATE-NET, Italy; Ramon Ferrus, UPC, Spain; Imen Grida Ben Yahia, Orange Labs, France; and Roberto Riggio, FBK CREATE-NET, Italy

IEEE Softwarization, July 2017


The orchestration of network services is a well investigated problem. Standards and recommendation have been produced by ETSI and IETF while a significant body of scientific literature can be found exploring both the theoretical and practical aspects of the problem. Likewise several open–source as well as proprietary tools for network service orchestration are already available. Nevertheless, in most of these cases network services can only be provisioned across a single administrative domain effectively preventing end–to–end network service delivery across multiple Infrastructure Providers (InP). 

One of the main differences between single–domain and multi–domain network service orchestration is the level of awareness of the involved Domain Orchestrator/Managers (DOMs) about the whole process. In the single–domain scenario the DOM has the whole situation under its control. Conversely, in the multi–domain scenario such global view is missing, since usually the different DOMs are not designed to interact with each other and to share information about the network service deployment process.

Composing resources from different InPs under a single umbrella framework without imposing requirements or restrictions on the different InPs is one of the multi–domain network service orchestration biggest challenges. In particular each InP shall be allowed to orchestrate its part of the network service according to its own internal administrative policies without having to disclose confidential information, such as traffic matrices and internal topology, to the other InPs involved in the service. As a result, existing NFV Management and Orchestration frameworks that assume global network knowledge [1], [2], are not applicable.

In this paper we take a step in the direction of enabling cross–domain network service orchestration by introducing the X–MANO framework. X-MANO consists in a confidentially–preserving interface for inter–domain federation and in a set of abstractions (backed by a consistent information model) enabling network service life–cycle programmability. Said abstractions tackle all the aspect of cross–domain network service provisioning including on–boarding, scaling, and termination.

X-MANO has the following features:

  • Flexible deployment model. Several architectures, each driven by different business requirements and use cases, can be used to enable multi– domain network service orchestration. The simplest approach is the hierarchical one [3] where different domains rely on a centralized orchestrator. From a business point–of–view this is a viable solution only for a single administrative domain as different operators will hardly provide global control of their infrastructures to a third party. Another approach is the cascading (or recursive) one where an operator exploits the network services exposed by another operator to serve its customers (e.g. a mobile network operator using a satellite operator for back–hauling). Finally, in the peer–to–peer model a network service is provided by pooling resources across several InPs possibly covering different geographical/technological domains. X–MANO supports all the use cases and architectural solutions described above by introducing a flexible, deployment–agnostic federation interface between heterogeneous administrative and technological domains.
  • Confidentiality-preserving federation. In the single–domain case, network service orchestration is performed assuming complete knowledge of the underlying resources. While this is still a valid assumption in the case of network services spanning across heterogeneous technological domains that belongs to the same operator, confidentially will be broken when multiple administrative domain are introduced. Similar considerations are made by the authors of [4], [5], [6]. X–MANO addresses this requirement by introducing an information model enabling each domain to advertise in a confidentially–preserving fashion capabilities, resources, and VNFs to an external entity. A Multi–Domain Network Service Descriptor allows network service developers to define network services without being exposed to the implementation details of the single domains.
  • Programmable network services. Irrespectively of the number of administrative and/or technological domains involved, VNFs and network services have specific life–cycle management requirements. For example, a video transcoding VNF may require a streaming VNF to be configured and running before it can start operating. Similarly an initialization script may require as input the output of other initialization scripts. As a result when VNFs belonging to the same network service are deployed across different domains it becomes harder to ensure consistent service on–boarding, scaling, and termination. This is due to the fact that different orchestrators must cooperate in order to deploy and operate a single network service. X–MANO addresses this requirement by introducing the concept of programmable network service which relies on a domain specific scripting language in order to allow network service developers to implement custom lifecycle management policies.

We validated the X-MANO framework by implementing it in a proof–of– concept prototype and by using it to deploy a video transcoding network services in a multi–domain InP testbed. Finally, we release the proof–of–concept X–MANO implementation under a permissive APACHE 2.0 license making it available to researchers and practitioners [7].  


[1] OpenBaton:” [Online]. Available: https://openbaton.github.io/

[2] OPNFV: [Online]. Available: https://www.opnfv.org/

[3] European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Management and Orchestration; Report on Architectural Options, Std. ETSI GS NFV-IFA 009, July 2016.

[4] M. Chowdhury, F. Samuel, and R. Boutaba, “Polyvine: policy-based virtual network embedding across multiple domain,”, in Proc. of ACM VISA, New Delhi, India, 2010.

[5] T. Mano, T. Inoue, D. Ikarashi, K. Hamada, K. Mizutani, and O. Akashi, “Efficient virtual network optimization across multiple domains without revealing private information”, IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 477–488, Sept 2016.

[6] C. Bernardos, L. Contreras, and I. Vaishnavi, “Multi-domain net- work virtualization”, Working Draft, Internet-Draft draft-bernardos- nfvrg-multidomain-01, October 2016.

[7] X-MANO: [Online]. Available: https://github.com/5g-empower/x-mano



Antonio FrancesconAntonio Francescon is a Researcher Engineer at FBK CREATE-NET. He received his master degreee in Computer Science Engineering in 2005 from the University of Padua (Italy). Since June 2005 he has been working in CREATE-NET, designing and developing software both for embedded devices and for Optical Network Management (here mainly focusing on development of emulators for testing new Control Plane solutions). He has been involved in several European project such as DICONET-FP7 and CHRON-FP7 (Optical Networks), COMPOSE-FP7 and UNCAP-H2020 (IoT). His current research interest is in Network Function Virtualization, in particular on cross-domain Network Service orchestration (his main activity in the VITAL-H2020 EU project).


Giovanni BaggioGiovanni Baggio received his master degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the university of Trento, Italy in 2015. He is currently Research Engineer at FBK CREATE-NET where he is involved in the H2020 Vital project as system designer, in the past he was also involved H2020 Fed4FIRE project as software developer. Past experiences prior to the degree include various university projects and a job activity as system administrator for few local SMEs.



Riccardo Fedrizzi received his MS degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Trento with a thesis focused on adaptive techniques for multi-user detection over time-varying multipath fading channel in MC-CDMA systems. After the graduation, he worked at the Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science of Trento, with main interest in the study and development of "software defined radio" technologies, for broadband data transmission over wireless networks. He joined CREATE-NET in January 2009 working on different EU founded projects in the wireless networks field.


Ramon FerrusRamon Ferrús received the Telecommunications Engineering (B.S. plus M.S.) and Ph.D. degrees from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona, Spain, in 1996 and 2000, respectively. He is currently a tenured associate professor with the Department of Signal Theory and Communications at UPC. His research interests include system design, functional architectures, protocols, resource optimization and network and service management in wireless communications, including satellite communications. He has participated in several research projects within the 6th, 7th and H2020 Framework Programmes of the European Commission, taking the responsibility as WP leader in H2020 VITAL and FP7 ISITEP projects. He has also participated in numerous national research projects and technology transfer projects for public and private companies. He is co-author of one book on mobile communications and one book on mobile broadband public safety communications. He has co-authored over 100 papers published in peer-reviewed journals, magazines, conference proceedings and workshops.


Imen Grida Ben YahiaImen Grida Ben Yahia is currently with Orange Labs, France, as a Research Project Leader on Autonomic & Cognitive Management. She received her PhD degree in Telecommunication Networks from Pierre et Marie Curie University in conjunction with Télécom SudParis in 2008. Imen joined Orange in 2010 as Senior Research Engineer on Autonomic Networking. Her current research interests are autonomic and cognitive management for software and programmable networks that include artificial intelligence for SLA and fault management, knowledge and abstraction for management operations, intent- and policy-based management. As such, she contributed to several European research projects like Servery, UniverSelf and CogNet and authored several scientific conference and journal papers in the field of autonomic and cognitive management. Imen will be the TPC co-chair of Netsoft2018.


Roberto RiggioDr. Roberto Riggio is currently Chief Scientist at FBK CREATE-NET where he is leading the Future Networks Research Unit efforts on 5G Systems. He has 1 granted patent, 79 papers published in internationally refereed journals and conferences, and has generated more than 1.5 M€ in competitive funding. He received several awards including: the IEEE INFOCOM 2013 Best Demo Award, the IEEE ManFI 2015 Best Paper Award, and the IEEE CNSM 2015 Best Paper Award. He has extensive experience in the technical and project management of European and industrial projects and he is currently Project Manager of the H2020 Vital Project.



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