Update from WP-D, the Cloud Networking area

Just to let you know what are we doing in WPD, which is one of the workpackages of SAIL project. Our focus is on Cloud Networking and we have already walked half of the way working toward our objectives.

The objective of WP-D is to create an architecture for cloud networking and flash network slice (FNS) over multiple, typically heterogeneous, multi-administrative domains. If you are curious what a FNS is, the FNS is a new resource that is introduced by CloNE. The purpose of FNS is to better address network capabilities in the IaaS paradigm according to CloNe requirements. It includes Network resource, Links, Space of interconnected links, Quality of service and a set up time. It is constructed and managed within a single administrative domain.

To explore the cloud networking architecture in more details, control functions and protocols, management and security aspects are addressed.  To evaluate all solution in a large scale prototype, a testbed hosted by three different partners is set up.  This prototype will proof feasibility of the solutions and a migration approach.

The architectural solution, including security and management framework, was documented and delivered.  Some of the contributions in this architecture are the concept of Flash Network Slices (FNS) as a space of interconnected end-points with specific QoS guarantees and dynamic reconfiguration properties.  The FNS is mapped to three different platforms namely, flow based networks (e.g., OpenFlow), fully virtualized networks (e.g., 4WARD VNet) and virtual private networks (VPNs).

The interfaces between the different parts of the cloud networking eco-system have been identified and their nature specified.  Two different control protocols have been defined, enabling the CloNe vision.  The first one is a RESTful Infrastructure Service Interface, based on an extension of the existing OCCI standard, thus, being migration friendly.

In the second one, the distributed control plane will be used to enable cross domain interaction and signalling.

Right now, we are focusing on building a prototype of our solution, by building a test bed and deploying the necessary functionalities to demonstrate our use cases. Later I will let you know about our use cases and updates on our prototyping activity.

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in SAIL, an ICT project around the Future Internet, on behalf of Ericsson. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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Cloud Interoperability Workshop at the FP7 8th Concertation meeting

On October 6th at the Future Internet Cluster of the 8th FP7 Concertation meeting, SAIL organized a workshop on cloud interoperability for which I had the privilege to be the moderator.  Four panelists from different research areas accepted to participate to the event.  After I set up the table for the workshop, the four participants presented their perspective on what are the challenges related to cloud interoperability and how they address those challenges in their research project. This was followed by a short debate on de facto standard vs standards pushed by regulators and standard bodies. There was also some discussions on the business aspect of cloud interoperability.

The panel consisted of Azimeh Sefidcon from Ericsson Research and CloNe WP-leader in the SAIL project, Patsy Phelan from TSSG, representing the PASSIVE project, Morris Riedel from the Juliech Supercomputing center and Strategic director of EMI and finally Yuri Demchenko, Senior Researcher at University of Amsterdam for the GEYSERS project.

My initial pitch was as follow. Cloud is becoming a dominant model for deploying applications and services. There are many public cloud providers in the market which offer to host applications and services in their infrastructure. At the same time, a large set of tools are available for building and managing your own private cloud. Each tool and cloud providers are proposing their specific interface.  If an application provider has to deploy an application in multiple clouds for any reasons (location, regulation, redundancy, risk mitigation…), he is usually forced to use different interfaces, VM formats, storage APIs, etc which complexify the application deployment. From this, we can easily conclude that we need some form of interoperability between clouds.

In her position statement, Azimeh mentioned that the cloud interoperability challenges are not only at the user interface but also between cloud operator domains.  There is a need to organized cloud providers in federations to offer services in different locations, taking into account different networks needs, topology and so on.  One important challenge is to determine which information can be shared between cloud providers in a peer-to-peer communications as well as between the providers and the users to best fit the need of the application providers.

Patsy mentioned some work that has already done on cloud in the scope of the PASSIVE project and the EU commission.  Some of the work was focusing on the security aspects of the cloud. He supported the fact that open standards are facilitators for deploying and using clouds.  OVF, OCCI, libvirt were some of the elements mentioned.  However, there is still a need to extend the current tools to include better support for security. For him, the key challenges are how to get traction from the industry, and how to ensure that we embrace governance, risk management and compliance.

Morris Riedel brought the grid experience into the discussions.  He indicated that the grid community has gone through a similar process of evolving from a set of proprietary interfaces to a reduced in number but rich set of standards. He proposed a few ways on  how the grid could inter-work with the cloud. The grid and cloud business models are different though.  In the grid world, academic and governmental research institutes are sharing resources, rather than having an industrial player selling resources to customer on a pay-per-use-model. This raises some concerns about the grid users (mostly academic) using the industrial clouds as it would be perceived as a transfer of  government funds to the industry.  He raised also the issues related to storing confidential data in the cloud,  few service level agreements (SLAs) comply with all regulations on privacy and data location.

The main message from GEYSERS as presented by Yuri Demchenko was that cloud interoperability needs to be based on a well defined architecture. For this purpose, GEYSERS uses the cloud architecture proposed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) as a reference. They also defined a service delivery model, and  new business model based on RORA: Resource, ownership, role, actors.  Finally, they proposed an inter-cloud architecture where the interfaces between the different service models of the cloud  (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS) would be standardized.

Large cloud players don’t really care about interoperability as they want to impose their own interfaces and lock-in their customers.  Panelists believe there will still be room (and business case) for smaller cloud players (both providers and users) to agree on interoperable interfaces.  These interoperable interfaces will evolve by iterating architecture and implementation work.

Unfortunately, we did not had much time for interactions with the audience.  The only question we had the chance to address is “What are the main challenges related to networking in the cloud?”.  The agreed answer was that management of SLAs needs to cover connectivity inside the data centers, between the data centers and potentially between the data centers and the application users. The mobility of VMs between data centres might also raise some technical issues related to IP forwarding and security.

This one hour workshop passed too quickly and a lot of questions remain opens.  Maybe there is room for a longer workshop on interoperability…

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in SAIL, an ICT project around the Future Internet, on behalf of Ericsson. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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Harvest from the Summer

For most people, summer means vacation, but this summer in SAIL we did more than enjoying the sun and the beach. Five important documents have been delivered to the EU commission and it is now your turn to enjoy the harvest as we made those documents available on our web site.

During the first phase of the project, we put a large effort on defining the architecture to support the concepts that we introduced in the use cases and scenario document (DA1) earlier this year.

The “Draft Architecture Guidelines and Principles” (DA2) document presents, as it name says it, principles and guidelines applicable to the architecture work being done in SAIL. This includes contributions from the Themes defining objectives, frameworks and early results. The document also includes a simplified view of the SAIL overall architecture, identifying the main interfaces between the work packages.

The architecture for the information centric networking (ICN) approach has been described in “The Network of Information: Architecture and Applications” (DB1). The document presents different design options for the core building blocks of an ICN : naming, name resolution, forwarding and routing, mobility and security. The document studies how the architecture applies to the selected applications and use cases and also describes recent work in NetInf migration and standardisation.

In “Architectural Concepts of Connectivity Services” (DC1), Open Connectivity Services (OConS) proposes a new set of networking architecture principles. It describes the functional entities and interfaces of the architectural framework that suits these new requirements. It then describes the proposed connectivity services and their management mechanisms. Finally, these elements are mapped to the connectivity use cases and scenarios.

Cloud Networking (CloNe) integrates networks and data centers, considers the networking resources into the existing data center infrastructure, and allows the application to use computing and storage resource distributed in the network for a better end-user experience and all this in multi-administrative domain scenarios. The “Cloud Network Architecture Description” (DD1) describes the architecture to support these features from intra and inter-domain perspectives.

When introducing new technologies as we do in SAIL, it is not enough to identify the technical issues, we also need to evaluate the impacts on the business and the society. The document “New Business Models and Business Dynamics of the Future Networks” (DA7) studies the intangible, business and regulatory aspects of selected use cases introduced in SAIL.

The architecture work is not yet completed as more deliverables are planned until the end of the project. However, in the coming period, the experimentation and prototyping activities will be more under the focus. A good portion of the next General Meeting in September will be about coordinating the experimentation and prototype activities among the SAIL partners.

You will find the complete list of deliverables from SAIL here.

Enjoy the reading.

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in SAIL, an ICT project around the Future Internet, on behalf of Ericsson. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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The multi-purpose door opener

How do we attract interest for our booth? How do we get people in a relaxed mood for an open and informal discussion? After all, that is the sole purpose of having a booth at venues like the recent Future Network & Mobile Summit, so we gave it some thoughts. “Let´s use the SAIL sail-shaped leaflet” someone said. “To boring…” the colleague responded. “No, not like a leaflet, but like a sail-boat I mean” the response came back. Said and done! A regatta at the SAIL-booth was announced on Twitter and spectators started to pop in…

Any more serious conversation around SAIL, had then to be either started or finished with a match race over the booth table! It turned out to be a successful move…!

In the middle of the race

What races did we do then? Well, we had good discussions (and races) with conference delegates from vendors, operators, content providers, academia and not the least the European Commission. Geographically our visitors came from countries like Spain, China, Luxembourg, Poland and Finland to mention just a few. The time in the booth was well spent and we got multitude of opportunities to present the important work we are doing within the project and to explain also to the ones who initially had a somewhat simplistic view about the project that we indeed have a solid grip on what we are doing and the importance of it. The ground for further collaboration with related EU-projects, such as the GEYSER project, was laid.

We are complementing each others in a good way and there is willingness from both sides to explore how to demonstrate in some way how our respective architectures fit together.

The most brave sailor in the booth? Well, Lauri Oksanen (Head of Research for NSN) turned out to be a real fast racer. However, he went out a bit too hard and capsized on the finishing line. I am sure though that his team within SAIL will do what is necessary to repair their reputation ;-)

Greetings from the SAIL booth in Warsaw – Thomas and crew

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in SAIL, an ICT project around the Future Internet, on behalf of Ericsson. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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What is the Grand Vision for European Network Research?

I just attended the Thursday plenary panel session of the Future Network and Mobile Summit where the topic was “Do we still need Research on Networking in Europe?”.

The panel consisted of representative from major European equipment vendors, (Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Network and Ericsson), Interoute, a large connectivity infrastructure provider and Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN), an alliance of major mobile operators worldwide.

The message was slightly different from vendors than from operators but the consensus after the discussion is that research in network in required.  There are still major immediate issues experimented by the operators that need to be solved. What came out also as consensus is that the current research programs needs to be more focused.  There is a fragmentation in the research effort. Researchers need to solve holistic problems and work smarter to increase the efficiency of the research.  They also need to perform better in advocating the results of their work.

Europe needs to find a grand vision to steer the direction of the research like the Americans needed that grand vision to go to the moon. Based on that grand Vision, European stakeholders could synergies their effort from research up to the productification.

Applications and services relying on an elastic network, that can adapt both computing, storage and connectivity resources to the varying demand, retrieving information where ever it is, by addressing the information objects directly rather than addressing nodes,
delivering those objects the most efficient way, with the support of multi-path, multi-homing, multi-technology, multicast in fixed or wireless networks - is that a grand enough vision?

Let’s SAIL to the moon!

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in the SAIL project, on behalf of Ericsson. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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SAIL’s paper in IEEE Communications Magazine

Dissemination is an important aspect of any research project, namely if it belongs to the group of those funded by the European Commission. Not only does it enable the sharing of results with other researchers, but it also exposes one’s work to other colleagues.

SAIL takes dissemination very seriously, and several means are being used for this purpose, this blog itself being one of them. Still, one of the main ways to disseminate scientific work is the publication of a paper in a reputed journal, with peer evaluation.
Given the area of work of SAIL, we have been looking for journals that issue calls for papers dedicated to “Networks of the Future” or “Future Internet”, in the aspects addressed by the project.

It happens that IEEE Communications Magazine issued a call for papers addressing “Future Internet Architectures: Design and Deployment Perspectives”, with a deadline on Dec. 15th, 2010. This topic was right on the target for SAIL, and we could not miss this opportunity to present the ideas being developed in the project. A group of people in the project was set up, to write the paper under a relative tight deadline, with quite some discussion on the contents and structure (as one could expect from a paper with multiple authors), and we did manage to submit the paper in due time: “Content, Connectivity, and Cloud: Ingredients for the Network of the Future”, Bengt Ahlgren, Pedro A. Aranda, Prosper Chemouil, Luis M. Correia, Holger Karl, Sara Oueslati, Michael Söllner and Annikki Welin.

A few weeks ago, we got the good news that the paper had been accepted (from an acceptance ratio of 15%!), and the final version has already been sent to the publisher. It will come out at this July issue of the journal.

Of course, this paper could not have been possible without the collaboration of all colleagues in the project (implicit authors), who have contributed with many discussions. A “thank you” to all of them, on behalf of the actual authors (explicit authors).

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in SAIL, an ICT project about the Future Internet, on behalf of IST-TUL. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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Model-Based Approach for Optimizing Media Server Deployments in Telco Clouds

By Uwe Naumann, Daniel Catrein, Heiko Perkuhn and Duong Quoc Trong

Guest post: Duong Quoc Trong, master student at RWTH Aachen University, has just completed his thesis under the supervision and guidelines of Daniel Catrein and Heiko Perkuhn, Ericsson Research in cooperation with professor Uwe Naumann, STCE chair, RWTH Aachen University .  Trong is not directly involved in the SAIL project but his thesis result could be in SAILors’ interest.

Cloud Networking is one of three main technical objectives, determined by SAIL’s project, constituting the three trends that lead to the Network of the Future. “Rather than controlling network and computation facilities as separate entities, with little or no power over the underlying resources, cloud networking can optimize resource allocations by considering network and computing resources as a unified whole” (Cloud computing in telecommunications). In this post, I will discuss about a potential foundation of that optimization. This optimization foundation can be used as a tool to examine different aspects of mobile network. For example, in our study that points to a typical Western European operator, the total cost can be reduced up to 96.5% by using a secondary sites approach (with assumed site capacities and number of subscribers).

Cloud Networking Services

Before going into the optimization, let’s take a look into more detail on how cloud networking could allocate distributed computing and network resources as a unified whole. In the following I will analyses the case of a telecom operator who is often a network service provider as well. A typical mobile network today comprises geographically separate primary and secondary sites (An Analysis of Web Caching in Current Mobile Broadband Scenarios). By extending this infrastructure into cloud networking, the operator could provide very competitive cloud services.  Figure 1 shows the architecture for a class of these services.

In this architecture, the telecom network consisting of primary sites and secondary sites as well as third party data centers represented by public cloud, i.e. Amazon EC2 are taken into account for deployment of application servers  (which are called streaming servers for the rest of the post). Therefore, the service on one hand would exploit strengths of the operators’ mobile networks (local presence of secondary sites) to enhance end user experience through edge delivery methods. On the other hand, it can be scaled dynamically, even to public clouds, to meet the changing demand of clients without worrying about unpredictable peak loads.  These two competitive advantages promise the operator a new business opportunity of cloud service offering.


With these cloud networking services above, a paradigm shift from rather static deployment of resources to more dynamic, on-demand practices in clouds means more flexibility and better utilization of resources. This demands new ways to efficiently configure and deploy services in the telecom clouds. In another words, new solutions for planning, dimensioning and deploying resources in the network are needed.

Addressing this demand, our approach is modeling the telecom network topology as a cost-based mathematic model. The aim of this model is to provide an analytical tool that can be used to explore different aspects of the network in terms of cost-reduction. For example, it provides a benchmark that can be used to evaluate and compare the cost (resource usage) of software services for different telecom network topologies. In another example, with each topology, it helps to characterize the deployment solutions that yield the lowest resource usage over the entire network.

To do so, we will formulate a total cost function for resource usage of the service based on predefined parameters and variables as in the Figure 1 (details can be found in my thesis). This total cost includes server operation costs in data centers (internal and external) and link costs for data transferring. Then by means of minimizing the cost function, we can determine the necessary number of streaming servers, server placements and request-routing scheme such that the service can serve all the client requests sufficiently.

The basic model with all parameters and variables

Figure 1: The basic model with all parameters and variables

The presented reference case can be formulated as a linear integer optimization problem. Note that the formulation as a proper mathematical optimization problem is key as this enables us to utilize the whole mathematical toolbox of algorithms and heuristics to solve these problems. There exist a number of software packages for solving linear programs. We chose a package including AMPL modeling language and LPSolve solver.

The solving process is presented in Figure 2. First, the mathematic model is converted to an AMPL model using the AMPL modeling language. After that, the AMPL data file is created to provide input data for all the parameters in the AMPL model. Then the LPSolver, an optimization solver, is selected and downloaded. Finally, the AMPL script will call the AMPL model, AMPL data file and solver together to print out the optimal total cost with the respective values of variables.

Optimization Process

Figure 2: Optimization Process

Applying this optimization process, different network topologies and deployment strategies can be considered and evaluated by changing the values of parameters or adding/removing constraints accordingly.


For verification purposes, a prototype was built showing especially the fast and easy deployment of media streaming servers in third party data centers. The prototype is a complete system that provides a live streaming service to the end-user (details can be found in my thesis). To demonstrate the dynamically scaling characteristic of the system based on the demand, streaming servers are deployed dynamically onto the private cloud Eucalyptus or the public cloud Amazon EC2. The more requests come, the more streaming servers are deployed. To deploy a server, it takes only 3 minutes. Additionally, assuming the number of requests goes down, we terminated some streaming servers. To terminate a server, it takes only 1 minute.

Evaluation and Conclusion

We used our model to analyze several aspects of a mobile network. As a reference application we used a video streaming service, because these kinds of services are responsible for the majority of data traffic in today’s (and future) mobile networks.

First, we compared two different network topologies. These network topologies are based on a typical mobile network of a Western European operator. We also used a typical user distribution with realistic total number of subscribers as well. Our model showed that a topology with full-meshed primary sites has a slight cost advantage (~ 1%) over a topology with no inter-primary-site links. This ratio is calculated with primary site and secondary’s capacities < 1000 servers. It increased to, i.e. ~21.41% if we change site capacities to several thousand servers. Taking the full-meshed topology, we analyzed deployment of media servers in primary and secondary sites vs. deployment in primary sites only. The result suggests that using secondary sites is more cost efficient (~3.4%). The ratio is ~96.5% if the primary site capacity is increased approximately tenfold. Finally we analyzed a quite fine-grained optimization that takes advantage of virtualization technology, showing a cost reduction of up to 0.5% depending on number and distribution of clients.

All these results depend of course on the input parameters, such as cost for internal links. Each network provider will have its own numbers and so the results will look slightly different.

In short, our approach of modeling the mobile network and its cloud related properties mathematically proved to be a quick and efficient way to analyze relevant aspects of mobile network configurations from a cost-perspective. This result is to be seen as a foundation and framework for future research in this area. Since the actual calculation time is negligible, this approach could e.g. be used for real time monitoring and managing the “Telco Cloud”, in order to exploit its dynamic properties in an optimal way.  The feasibility of dynamic server deployments for a multimedia application in a cloud environment was demonstrated in the lab at Ericsson Eurolab.

*If you are interested in the full version of my thesis “Optimization and Evaluation of a Multimedia Streaming Service on a Hybrid Telco Cloud”, please send us an email. We would be very happy to send it to you.

Disclosure and disclaimer: I did my thesis at Ericsson, as part of my education between RWTH Aachen University, Germany and Thai German Graduate School (TGGS), Thailand. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of my employer.

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Cloud Networking @ First ASMONIA Workshop

By Dominique Dudkowski and Peter Schoo.

On March 29, the first ASMONIA workshop took place in Heidelberg, Germany.

ASMONIA (Attack analysis and Security concepts for MObile Network infrastructures, supported by collaborative Information exchAnge), sponsored by Germany‘s Federal Ministry of Eduation and Research, is developing a holistic security concept for mobile network infrastructures that satisfies the diverse requirements of modern networks. Integrity protection and attack detection solutions that exploit characteristics of resilient and flexible systems like cloud computing will therefore be integrated. Additionally it integrates reputation preserving collaborative information exchange mechanisms between operators.


The ASMONIA team with Peter Schoo (ASMONIA technical project manager and SAIL‘s security theme leader, 8th from right) and guest speaker Dominique Dudkowski (SAIL, cloud networking work package, 5th from right).

Because ASMONIA’s security challenges, such as the multiple facets of mobile network utilization (e.g., public/private use) and the growing technical heterogeneity (3G, 4G, non-3G and future generations) and complexity (roaming, interworking) of the overall system, are also encountered in SAIL’s architectures for the networks of the future, ASMONIA invited Work Package 5 – Cloud Networking (CloNe) to present SAIL’s approach to cloud networking.

In CloNe, SAIL researchers are currently designing an architecture that combines computing, storage, and networking resources into agile flash slices, which will support robust Internet and cloud computing architectures of the future. Security naturally plays an important role also in CloNe, and it was a valuable opportunity to exchange views on ASMONIA’s security concepts and on SAIL’s CloNe architecture.

Disclosure and disclaimer: Dominique Dudkowski (NEC Europe Laboratories) and  Peter Schoo (Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT) are engaged in the SAIL project. The opinions expressed in this post are their personal ones and not those of the SAIL project or their respective employer.

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Future of organizing research?

Since I was in Brussels anyway, I decided to attend the FISA Roadmapping Workshop on Mach 31. It had the usual presentations about possible future research topics, some of them more interesting than others, as usual.

But a somewhat unexpected discussion also sprang up: Are we (as European researchers) actually taking the right approach in organizing research. One gentleman (from Aalto university, I believe) made the point that our competitors take about a month from idea to starting research work, having enough money to directly fund a, say, PhD student. Very agile approach, very quick to react to market trends and needs. European research projects are long in the making (easily two years pass from idea, organizing consortium, writing proposal, evaluation, negotiations, …); national projects are not necessarily any better. Obviously, there are advantages to the big European projects as well, but we aren’t too good on agility, admittedly.

These statements were followed by similar supporting remarks (I confess I chipped in as well). Nothing concrete came out of that, but I do believe we need to be faster and, sometimes, smaller than in the past.

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in the SAIL project, on behalf of University of Paderborn. The opinions expressed in this post, however, are my personal ones, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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The SAIL leaflet

At the 2nd SAIL General Meeting I received a stack of three-cornered SAIL leaflets. By continuous experimentation on information spreading I found out that the “take away rate” of these leaflets from a desk is considerably higher if I unfold them a little and form a SAIL armada on the table.

Here the picture:

The SAIL Armada

The SAIL Armada

So my kudos goes to the inventors of this very nice idea for the SAIL leaflet!

Disclosure and disclaimer: I am engaged in SAIL, an ICT project around the Future Internet, on behalf of Alcatel-Lucent. However the opinions expressed in this post are my personal, and not those of the SAIL project or my employer.

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