Virtualization of Networks and Resources

Network Virtualization has gained an increasing prominence in networking and telecommunications fields in the last couple of years. Initially, the interest in network virtualisation was mainly pushed by Future Internet research initiatives, e.g. PlanetLab and PanLab, mainly with the objective to find a platform on which novel Internet architectures could be experimented and evaluated without limitations or constraints, namely those associated with the traditional IP model.

This research area started, initially, with the 4WARD (Architecture and design for the future Internet) project, which was an European FP7-ICT project with 40 partners that has been concluded in July of 2010. In the 4WARD project, regarding this research area, we have been involved in the work-package VNet. The goal of VNet was to develop a systematic and general approach to network virtualisation. The problem space was divided into three main areas: 1) Virtualisation of Network Resources; 2) Provisioning of Virtual Networks; 3) Virtualisation Management. The outcome of this project is materialised in the deliverables of the project (i.e. D-3.2.0 Virtualisation Approach: Evaluation and Integration), on the research papers, workshops and demonstrations. We developed virtualization algorithms that integrate the virtual network mapping and creation, distributed discovery, and management functionalities required in a virtualization framework. All these functionalities were included in our virtualization platform, the Network Virtualization System Suite. Now, we are involved in the SAIL (Scalable & Adaptive Internet soLutions) project, which is an European FP7-ICT project, in the work-package Clone (Cloud Networking). The research issue is to integrate the Cloud Computing paradigm with Network Operators. Cloud Networking’s goal is to facilitate on-demand management and control of computing, storage and connectivity resources in the network, by automatically moving or scaling up or down the resources required to distribute content and applications. We are evolving the virtualization approaches to integrate both network and cloud resources to provide services integrated with the network, including the specification and evaluation of mechanisms and algorithms for fault-management and reconfiguration of network and cloud resources. All these functionalities are being included in our Network-Aware Cloud platform.

These works are being performed in a very close cooperation with Portugal Telecom Inovação.

In a parallel approach, we are making use of network virtualization to support context-aware communications, with each context-aware network as a virtualized network. We design a context-aware multi-virtual architecture for wireless mesh networks to deal with the Context of mesh clients and their devices, services, and applications. In our approach, context can be defined as a set of requirements or preferences, such as cost, security, trust level, mobility, applications’ Quality-of-Service (QoS), etc. The infrastructure wireless mesh network is split into several adaptable Virtual Networks (VNs), each one properly configured to meet specific levels of context features. Mesh clients will access the network through a VN that fits their requirements, mapped in context values. Our multi-VN approach provides personalized networking, by making the VNs usable, scalable, and adaptive, allowing the real-time creation, reconfiguration, and termination of them, in order to optimize the Quality-of-Experience (QoE) of users, and to dynamically meet changing context demands. This work is being pursued in the FP7 Network of Excellence Euro-NF.

Demo Brochures


A Platform for Operator-Driven Virtualization