Concept and Methodology

Overall Concept

Rapidly emerging technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Cloud computing are leading to widespread adoption of softwarised infrastructures, that will form the foundation of 5G networks. However, softwarisation has also led to the proliferation of highly complex and error-prone control planes, significantly complicating software development. Modern-day development practices follow the DevOps paradigm, which promotes a tight coupling of the development (“Dev”) and operation (“Ops”) of applications, such that they can optimally exploit the underlying infrastructure. For example, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Extended Reality functions of next-generation media applications should be placed in close proximity to users (i.e. at Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) nodes) to minimize latency. This creates huge overheads for supporting different platforms, as vertical applications need to support the corresponding platform Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and undergo extensive testing to ensure they meet the service-level Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). To this end, 5GMediaHub will offer a testing infrastructure which is compatible with industry standard DevOps processes, streamlining and simplifying testing and KPI verification.

Furthermore, leveraging the NFV Infrastructures of its 5G PPP testbeds in Oslo (i.e. Telenor’s ICT-17 5G-VINNI) and in Spain (i.e. CTTC’s ICT-19 5G testbed in 5G-SOLUTIONS), 5GMediaHUB will offer “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) capabilities via a set of open-standards Northbound APIs provided by a corresponding set of application enablement services, termed NetApps. These include both vertical-specific media NetApps and vertical-agnostic NetApps, hosted in a NetApps Repository, which supports uploading 3rd party media NetApps or even NetApps from other vertical domains.

5GMediaHUB Experimentation Facility high-level architecture

5GMediaHUB Experimentation Facility offers an elastic, trusted, secure, integrated, all-in-one, service execution environment based on an open-standards cloud-based architecture and APIs, supporting multi-tenancy. This will provide 3rd party application developers, such as innovative SMEs, media content and service providers, and NetApps developers, who may not have access to 5G testbed infrastructures, the opportunity to experiment, test and validate their media applications under realistic conditions thus significantly reducing any uncertainties before actual commercial service deployment. The main elements of the 5GMediaHUB’s architecture (as per figure below) are:

The Application layer, which hosts the 3rd party media applications. 5GMediaHUB will implement the new ETSI MEC PaaS extensions for the first time, supporting containerised and VM based workloads. Cloud-native vertical applications are implemented as a mesh of containerised microservices that can be defined with state-of-the-art Container Management Frameworks (e.g. Docker Compose, Kubernetes Helm, etc.). Media Applications will leverage the NetApps’ Northbound APIs to interact with the underlying NetApps in a plug-and-play NFVI agnostic manner.

The Experimentation Tools layer, which allows the validation and optimisation of their services and applications in a 5G test environment to ensure their proper operation, and remove any uncertainties prior to wide-scale deployment. Furthermore, it offers scheduling, validation, verification, analytics and QoS/QoE monitoring mechanisms to experimenters. The 5GMediaHUB experimentation tools are structured in an innovative DevOps environment, to allow seamless test scheduling and execution via DevOps pipelines.

The NetApps & slice (abstraction) layer, which offers PaaS capabilities to 3rd party vertical application developers, abstracting the underlying NFVI and facilitating rapid prototyping and cross-platform interoperability. 5GMediaHUB will implement NetApps that cater to the media industry, which will be hosted in a NetApp Repository. NetApp VNF chains are implemented via Network Slice Instances (NSIs) that can span across multiple NFVIs and testbed facilities.

The 5G infrastructure layer, which consists of 5G testbed facilities. In 5GMediaHUB two well-established 5G testbeds, i.e. Telenor’s Oslo 5G testbed from 5G-VINNI ICT-17 project and CTTC’s 5G testbed from 5G-SOLUTIONS ICT-19 and MonB5G ICT-20 projects are used and extended to provide the 5G network capabilities.

The UE layer, which is a unique feature of 5GMediaHUB, consists of a farm of User Equipment (UE) to enable the end-to-end testing of a wide variety of media applications. The UE farm includes (i) 5G enabled remotely controlled smartphone devices or similarly spec’d clusters of Single Board Computers with 5G USB modems that can execute tests encapsulated in Docker Containers; (ii) locally controlled UEs, such as 4k/8k video cameras, 4k/8k TV sets, immersive (AR/VR/XR) headsets that will be controlled by the 5G testbed owners on behalf of the experimenters.

The Security Framework, which implements secure user authorisation and authentication, Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) protection and isolation via dedicated network slices. 5GMediaHUB will be the first concrete attempt of SDP integration with 5G infrastructures.

NetApps with standardised Northbound Interfaces (APIs) implemented in 5GMediaHUB
  • Streaming NetApp, to implement 5G media streaming functions.
  • Immersive_Media NetApp, to implement an immersive experience for users with an Augmented Reality/Extended Reality headset.
  • Multi_CDN NetApp, to offer optimised content delivery, implementing content pre-caching based on estimated popularity, context information and weights submitted by broadcasters.
  • Stream_Selector NetApp, which leverages Deep CNN algorithms to automatically rank video streams based on their quality and relevance.
  • PaaS NetApp, which hosts 5GMediaHUB vertical applications within Virtual Machines or Docker containers, to offer Platform as a Service capabilities and abstracting SDN & NFV complexities in accordance with the ETSI MEC PaaS extensions.
  • Web Application Firewall (WAF) NetApp, to offer virtual Firewall and Northbound APIs request validation VNFs, offering security and trust as a service to media vertical applications.
  • IDS NetApp, based on Snort IDS, to analyse network traffic against particular attack signatures and protect from cyber vulnerabilities.

Methodology

The 5GMediaHUB project will be executed over three agile, contiguous and sequentially aligned phases. The proposed methodology aims to validate the project outcomes in relevant environments so as to expedite the rapid commercial take-up of its technology and network products.

Phase 1 – Requirements analysis and design: is concerned with the analysis of the use cases and the detailed definition and justification of the target network and service-level KPIs per use case, the analysis of the functional requirements of the 5GMediaHUB Experimentation Facility and their translation to detailed technical specifications which will be used for the detailed low-level design of the system architecture. It also includes the testing framework for the technological and business validation and the benchmarking of the results.

Phase 2 – Components development and integration: Development of the 5GMediaHUB Experimentation Facility components including the NetApps and their Northbound APIs. Integration of all system components into an integrated system, interfacing, adaptation, upgrade and configuration of Telenor’s 5G-VINNI Oslo and CTTC’s Barcelona 5G testbeds to 3GPP R.16, configuration and interfacing of the CDSO and dry run testing to ensure proper preparation and verify operational readiness prior to the validation of the Experimentation Facility and NetApps through realistic use cases.

Phase 3 – Testing & Validation of the Facility through use cases & impact maximisation: The final phase is concerned with the establishment and setup of the validation of the 5GMediaHUB Experimentation Facility and the NetApps through realistic use cases. Iterative execution of 3 use cases (each with 2 different scenarios) over two consequential and iterative cycles of testing, at least once per 3GPP 5G testbed release (R.16 & R.17). Phase 3 also includes dissemination, innovation, commercialisation, standardisation, capacity building and data management activities in WP5-WP6.