The path toward a cloud-aware mobile network protocol stack

Pablo Serrano, Marco Gramaglia, Dario Bega, David Gutierrez-Estevez, Gines Garcia-Aviles, Albert Banchs
2018 Transactions on Emerging Telecommunications Technologies  
We are currently observing the softwarization of communication networks, where network functions are translated from monolithic pieces of equipment to programs running over a shared pool of computational, storage, and communication resources. While it is clear that almost any softwarization improves flexibility (e.g., the ability to instantiate more servers to cope with increasing traffic demand), in this paper we advocate for a complete re-design of the communications protocol stack, instead
more » ... a mere translation of hardware functions into software. We discuss two drivers for this cloud-aware redesign: (i) relaxing the tight interactions between functions, and (ii) supporting a graceful degradation of the service when resources become scarce. The potential benefits of this re-design are illustrated with the numerical evaluation of one use case. * This has been repeatedly argued by now, in a number of position papers such as, e.g., [1] , in SDOs such as 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) [2] , and in industry fora such as Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) [3] one that happened when transitioning from circuit-based to packet-based networking. By softwarizing the operation of the network, VNFs (e.g., schedulers, databases, gateways) run as software components over a set of shared resources (antennas, links, servers, etc.), and can be dynamically provisioned as needed. As illustrated in Figure 1 , a possible transition from the traditional vision to a fully softwarized network is the "Softwarization of Elements." That is, legacy PNFs are ported to a software implementation running in virtual containers. This approach indeed improves the flexibility of the network: these monolithic programs run over shared computational resources, allowing, e.g., their reinstantiation on-demand, the reduction of development cycles and easier reconfiguration in general. Still, softwarization poses a number of challenges such as the efficient resource assignment to VNFs. This problem
doi:10.1002/ett.3312 fatcat:zc6d4he7qbcvlfwa6ah3gotdti