European Space Agency

ANChOR - Data-driven Network Controller and Orchestrator for Real-time Network Management

Objectives

ANChOR objectives are focused on the design and implementation of an integrated infrastructure for 5G Satellite-Terrestrial networks, with data-driven orchestration techniques applied to the optimization of the multi-domain network.

The project aims to investigate satellite-based extensions to 5G architectureand use cases, targeting eMBB and mMTC services, analyzing new business models and multi-domain deployments combining NR and satellite networks. In this direction, ANChOR has the objective of building an orchestration solution, compliant with ETSI NFV and 3GPP standards, that adopts Artificial Intelligent (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques for a truly dynamic and data-driven resource allocation and slice management.

ANChOR orchestration strategies want to extend the self-optimization and self-adaptation concepts to the management of satellite-enabled 5G infrastructures, through an end-to-end resource control across access, edge and core domains. Management functions of satellite networks are virtualized and orchestrated as an integrated part of the 5G infrastructure, with zero-touch re-configurations on the basis of real-time data about service requirements, network conditions and traffic load.

The evaluation of ANChOR solution involves Over-the-Air tests for Geostationary (GEO) backhauling scenarios with eMBB services, combined with NR simulations for a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) access modelling applied to NarrowBand – Internet of Thing (NB-IoT) communication scenarios. 

Challenges

The ANChOR challenge is to enable the intelligent and automated orchestration of satellite resources as integrated part of the overall 5G infrastructure. Exploiting the NFV and zero-touch paradigms,satellite control functions must be dynamically instantiated and re-configured to meet the variable requirements of concurrent network slices and automatically re-adapt to the real-time environmental context, network conditions and traffic loads. In such dynamic scenarios, data analytics and AI/ML techniques are fundamental to drive orchestration decisions, which needs to be complemented with control strategies to guarantee the continuous stability of the network. 

Benefits

The ANChOR platform introduces several innovations in the orchestration area, bringing several benefits to the management of 5G networks deploying satellite technologies.

  • Satellite control functions are virtualized and managed as integrated part of the end-to-end 5G infrastructure, with the possibility to adopt global, cross-domain orchestration strategies.
  • The data-driven orchestration, exploiting its embedded AI/ML techniques, enables network automation strategies for self-configuration, self-optimization and self-healing actions following the closed-loop and zero-touch paradigms.
  • The ANChOR-based 5G infrastructure adopts unified management mechanisms across multiple domains and multiple technologies, combining hybrid satellite/radio access and edge/cloud resources, in support of a diversity of vertical services and network slices.
  • AI/ML techniques are applied to cross-layer orchestration procedures, enabling algorithms to jointly manage 5G infrastructure resources, transport connectivity, network slices up to vertical services and QoS assurance. 
  • ANChOR data analytics solution relies on a flexible and open monitoring platform, supporting the efficient collection, storage, publishing and processing of cross-layer and cross-domain monitoring data.
  • ANChOR orchestrator relies of AI/ML techniques to improve the efficiency of resource allocation, function placement and migration decisions, for joint and real-time optimization of network and IT resources across satellite and radio access, distributed edge nodes, transport and core networks, applying multi-slice and multi-tenant paradigms.

Features

ANChOR platform offers advanced features for the orchestration of 5G Satellite-Terrestrial networks:

  • Adoption of AI/ML techniques for closed-loop automation and data-driven optimization of resource allocation and satellite-enabled 5G infrastructure management.
  • Data analytics applied to monitoring data from multiple data sources, including 5G infrastructure, network functions, orchestration platform, service applications, external data repositories.
  • Management and arbitration of multi-tenant network slices for differentiated categories of vertical services.
  • Unified control of heterogeneous network technologies.
  • End-to-end resource management strategies, across access, edge, core domains.
  • Real-time adaptation of 5G infrastructure configuration and network slices, with embedded mechanisms to guarantee the network stability. 
  • Zero-touch approach for automated configuration of virtualized satellite network functions.
  • Compliance with ETSI NFV and 3GPP standards (NFV MANO, network slicing, NWDAF).
  • Adoption of open APIs and flexible software architecture to easily integrate third party algorithms and additional data sources as input for data analytics and AI/ML engines.

System Architecture

The ANChOR architecture proposes a multi-domain, satellite-enabled 5G infrastructure jointly orchestrated through AI/ML techniques. The AI/ML engines drive closed-loop automation decisions for allocation of network and computing resources and management of network slices. Starting from multi-domain, multi-layer monitoring data, the AI/ML algorithms produce dynamic models that are translated into automation commands to assist the orchestration. Service provisioning, slice management, resource allocation, configuration and migration are continuously re-optimized, according to the real-time dynamicity of service demands and context conditions.

On top of the 5G Satellite-Terrestrial network infrastructure, the ANChOR platform is composed of three functional elements that jointly implement the closed-loop network automation, interacting through open interfaces.

The ANChOR Management and Orchestration platform implements the lifecycle logic to manage vertical services, end-to-end slices and NFV network services. It orchestrates resources across the satellite/terrestrial access, core, transport networks, edge and cloud domains.

The ANChOR Multi-Technology Resource Controllers implement the control plane of network domains, e.g. through technology-specific SDN controllers, and manage the virtual infrastructure for edge and cloud resources.

The ANChOR AI/ML platform embeds the data-driven intelligence to assist the system automation, on the basis of multi-source monitoring information about network load, service requirements, application performance, external context evolution, etc. 

Plan

The project is structured in three phases, starting from use cases and architecture design, and evolving in the development phase to conclude with validation trials and demonstrations. The first milestone, Baseline Design Review (February 2021), focuses on use case specification. In July 2021, the ANChOR architecture and the AI/ML and data mining solution design is released for the Critical Design Review. The ANChOR platform prototype and its test plan is covered at the Preliminary Performance Review (June 2022), while the results of the validation trials are delivered at the end of the project in October 2022 for the Final Review.   

Current status

The project has successfully kicked off and it is currently progressing on the definition of the target use cases and starting the activities on the architecture design. 

Status date

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 13:32