Software-defined networks and network virtualization

Cloud computing is attracting a lot of attention for its ability to connect consumers and businesses with their remotely stored data through any device. SICS Swedish ICT is working on solutions that will make the required infrastructure transporting data from storage centres to end users significantly more flexible, enabling fast service deployment. We are talking seconds rather than weeks!

Techniques for virtualizing cloud resources significantly reduce the need for installing and managing expensive dedicated hardware, and thus contribute to increased flexibility in service deployment while keeping management costs low. Virtualization also facilitates more efficient use of resources, and creates opportunities for providers to offer new high-quality services to their customers.

Software-defined networking (SDN) is a relatively new paradigm for managing the behaviour of network infrastructures, and is an important part of the development of network virtualization. The SDN architecture separates the control plane from the data plane, meaning that the function and behaviour of network appliances can be controlled in a logically centralized and software-centric fashion. This is in complete contrast to traditional networking technology, where the control is an integrated part of the physical network.
The fields of network virtualization and SDN complement each other and will be central to the management of the next generation of networks and cloud infrastructures.

The UNIFY project is aimed at combining virtualization and programmability into a unified framework covering the entire infrastructure from home devices to data centres. Key is SDN-based specification and control of virtual components integrating storage, compute and network resources, chained together into services that scale dynamically in real-time with the concentration of users.

The objective is to create a service-oriented carrier-grade platform, where service providers can specify, instantiate, and modify service-chains in a flexible manner within significantly shorter time-scales than in a traditional setting, going from weeks to seconds. This includes the development of a universal node with programmable capabilities via a common set of interfaces across different types of hardware. Advanced SDN-oriented management approaches for deployment and operation of services will be developed, and topped with efficient tools for verification and troubleshooting of service-chains and components.

Project partners in UNIFY are Ericsson Hungary, Swedish ICT SICS, Swedish ICT Acreo, EAB, DT, TI, Intel, TUB, and eight more partners.

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