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SONATA - Service Programing and Orchestration for Virtualized Software Networks


Virtualisation and software networks are a major disruptive technology for communications networks, enabling services to be deployed as software functions running directly in the network on commodity hardware. However, deploying the more complex user-facing applications and services envisioned for 5G networks presents significant technological challenges for development and deployment. SONATA addresses both issues.

Service Development

For service development, SONATA provides service patterns and description techniques for composed services. A customised SDK is developed to boost the efficiency of developers of network functions and composed services, by integrating catalogue access, editing, debugging, and monitoring analysis tools with service packaging for shipment to an operator.

Service Deployment

For deployment, SONATA provides a novel service platform to manage service execution. The platform complements the SDK with functionality to validate service packages. Moreover, it improves on existing platforms by providing a flexible and extensible orchestration framework based on a plugin architecture. Thanks to SONATA’s platform service developers can provide custom algorithms to steer the orchestration of their services: for continuous placement, scaling, life-cycle management and contextualization of services. These algorithms are overseen by executives in the service platform, ensuring trust and resolving any conflict between services.

Work Packages

The University of Paderborn ‒ Research Group Computer Networks ‒ is mainly involved in the following work packages:

WP2: Use case definition, requirements, architecture, market watch

This workpackage identifies and defines relevant use cases and derives requirements from these use cases used to develop and specify the overall system architecture of the SDK and service platform. Our group is mainly responsible for leading and contributing to the architecture task in this workpackage, focusing on the SDK toolchain as well as the orchestration kernel and its information flow.

WP3: Service programmability and toolset

In the service programming context, our group concentrates on description techniques for complex services with specific properties, for example, scaling behavior of service chains and state management of elastic services. 

WP4: Resource orchestration and operations repositories

WP4 focuses on automatic resource orchestration as part of the developed service platform. Besides architectural inputs, our group focuses on supporting custom tailored resource management algorithms which can be defined by service developers. Additionally, we contribute to conflict resolution approaches needed when several competing services are executed on the same set of resources.

WP6: Infrastructure setup, validation, and pilots

We also work on the pilot definition test and validation of the prototype.


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Understand Your Chains: Towards Performance Profile-Based Network Service Management

M. Peuster, H. Karl, in: Fifth European Workshop on Software-Defined Networks, EWSDN 2016, Den Haag, The Netherlands, October 10-11, 2016, 2016, pp. 7--12

Allocating resources to virtualized network functions and services to meet service level agreements is a challenging task for NFV management and orchestration systems. This becomes even more challenging when agile development methodologies, like DevOps, are applied. In such scenarios, management and orchestration systems are continuously facing new versions of functions and services which makes it hard to decide how much resources have to be allocated to them to provide the expected service performance. One solution for this problem is to support resource allocation decisions with performance behavior information obtained by profiling techniques applied to such network functions and services. In this position paper, we analyze and discuss the components needed to generate such performance behavior information within the NFV DevOps workflow. We also outline research questions that identify open issues and missing pieces for a fully integrated NFV profiling solution. Further, we introduce a novel profiling mechanism that is able to profile virtualized network functions and entire network service chains under different resource constraints before they are deployed on production infrastructure.

MeDICINE: Rapid Prototyping of Production-Ready Network Services in Multi-PoP Environments

M. Peuster, H. Karl, S. van Rossem, in: IEEE Conference on Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networks (NFV-SDN), 2016

Virtualized network services consisting of multiple individual network functions are already today deployed across multiple sites, so called multi-PoP (points of presence) environments. This allows to improve service performance by optimizing its placement in the network. But prototyping and testing of these complex distributed software systems becomes extremely challenging. The reason is that not only the network service as such has to be tested but also its integration with management and orchestration systems. Existing solutions, like simulators, basic network emulators, or local cloud testbeds, do not support all aspects of these tasks. To this end, we introduce MeDICINE, a novel NFV prototyping platform that is able to execute production-ready network functions, provided as software containers, in an emulated multi-PoP environment. These network functions can be controlled by any third-party management and orchestration system that connects to our platform through standard interfaces. Based on this, a developer can use our platform to prototype and test complex network services in a realistic environment running on his laptop.

Monitoring and debugging using an SDK for NFV-powered telecom applications

S. v. Rossem, W. Tavernier, M. Peuster, D. Colle, M. Pickavet, P. Demeester, in: Proc. IEEE Conference on Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Network (NFV-SDN), Demo Track, 2016

Placement of Services with Flexible Structures Specified by a YANG Data Model

S. Dräxler, H. Karl, in: Proceedings of the 2nd International IEEE Conference on Network Softwarization (NetSoft), 2016, pp. 184--192

Network function virtualization and software-defined networking allow services consisting of virtual network functions to be designed and implemented with great flexibility by facilitating automatic deployments, migrations, and reconfigurations for services and their components. For extended flexibility, we go beyond seeing services as a fixed chain of functions. We present a YANG model for describing the service structure in deployment requests in a flexible way that enables changing the order of functions in case the order of traversing them does not affect the functionality of the service. Upon receiving such requests, the network orchestration system can choose the optimal composition of service components that gives the best results for placement of services in the network. This introduces new complexities to the placement problem by greatly increasing the number of possible ways a service can be composed. In this paper, we describe a heuristic solution that selects a Pareto set of the possible compositions of a service as well as possible combinations of different services, with respect to different resource requirements of the services. Our evaluations show that the selected combinations consist of representative samples of possible structures and requirements and therefore, can result in optimal or close-to-optimal placement results.

Specification, Composition, and Placement of Network Services with Flexible Structures

S. Dräxler, H. Karl, International Journal of Network Management (2017)(2), pp. 1--16

Network function virtualization and software-defined networking allow services consisting of virtual network functions to be designed and implemented with great flexibility by facilitating automatic deployments, migrations, and reconfigurations for services and their components. For extended flexibility, we go beyond seeing services as a fixed chain of functions. We define the service structure in a flexible way that enables changing the order of functions in case the functionality of the service is not influenced by this, and propose a YANG data model for expressing this flexibility. Flexible structures allow the network orchestration system to choose the optimal composition of service components that for example gives the best results for placement of services in the network. When number of flexible services and number of components in each service increase, combinatorial explosion limits the practical use of this flexibility. In this paper, we describe a selection heuristic that gives a Pareto set of the possible compositions of a service as well as possible combinations of different services, with respect to different optimization objectives. Moreover, we present a heuristic algorithm for placement of a combination of services, which aims at placing service components along shortest paths that have enough capacity for accommodating the services. By applying these solutions, we show that allowing flexibility in the service structure is feasible.

SONATA: Service programming and orchestration for virtualized software networks

S. Dräxler, H. Karl, M. Peuster, H. Razzaghi Kouchaksaraei, M. Bredel, J. Lessmann, T. Soenen, W. Tavernier, S. Mendel-Brin, G. Xilouris, in: 2017 IEEE International Conference on Communications Workshops (ICC Workshops), IEEE, 2017

In conventional large-scale networks, creation and management of network services are costly and complex tasks that often consume a lot of resources, including time and manpower. Network softwarization and network function virtualization have been introduced to tackle these problems, aiming at decreasing costs and complexity of implementing new services, maintaining the implemented services, and managing available resources in service provisioning platforms and underlying infrastructures. To experience the full potential of these approaches, innovative development support tools and service provisioning environments are needed. To answer these needs, we introduce the architecture of the open-source SONATA system, a service programming, orchestration, and management framework. We present a development toolchain for virtualized network services, fully integrated with a service platform and orchestration system. We introduce the modular and flexible architecture of our system and discuss its main components and features, such as function- and service-specific managers that allow fine-grained service management, slicing support to facilitate multi-tenancy, recursiveness for improved scalability, and full-featured DevOps support.

A flexible multi-pop infrastructure emulator for carrier-grade MANO systems

M. Peuster, S. Dräxler, H. Razzaghi Kouchaksaraei, S. van Rossem, W. Tavernier, H. Karl, in: IEEE Conference on Network Softwarization, NetSoft 2017, Bologna, Italy, July 3-7, 2017, 2017, pp. 1--3

Developing a virtualized network service does not only involve the implementation and configuration of the network functions it is composed of but also its integration and test with management solutions that will control the service in its production environment. These integration tasks require testbeds that offer the needed network function virtualization infrastructure~(NFVI), like OpenStack, introducing a lot of management and maintenance overheads. Such testbed setups become even more complicated when the multi point-of-presence~(PoP) case, with multiple infrastructure installations, is considered. In this demo, we showcase an emulation platform that executes containerized network services in user-defined multi-PoP topologies. The platform does not only allow network service developers to locally test their services but also to connect real-world management and orchestration solutions to the emulated PoPs. During our interactive demonstration we focus on the integration between the emulated infrastructure and state-of-the-art orchestration solutions like SONATA or OSM.

Joint Optimization of Scaling and Placement of Virtual Network Services

S. Dräxler, H. Karl, Z.A. Mann, in: Proceedings of the 17th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster, Cloud and Grid Computing (CCGrid 2017), 2017

Management of complex network services requires flexible and efficient service provisioning as well as optimized handling of continuous changes in the workload of the service.To adapt to changes in the demand, service components need to be replicated (scaling) and allocated to physical resources (placement) dynamically. In this paper, we propose a fullyautomated approach to the joint optimization problem of scaling and placement, enabling quick reaction to changes. We formalize the problem, analyze its complexity, and develop two algorithms to solve it. Extensive empirical results show the applicability andeffectiveness of the proposed approach.

Profile Your Chains, Not Functions. Automated Network Service Profiling in DevOps Environments

M. Peuster, H. Karl, in: IEEE Conference on Network Function Virtualisation and Software Defined Networks (NFV-SDN), 2017

Benchmarking and profiling virtual network functions (VNFs) generates input knowledge for resource management decisions taken by management and orchestration systems. Such VNFs are usually not executed in isolation but are often deployed as part of a service function chain (SFC) that connects single functions into complex structures. To manage such chains, isolated performance profiles of single functions have to be combined to get insights into the overall behavior of an SFC. This becomes particularly challenging in highly agile DevOps environments in which profiling processes need to be fully automated and detailed insights about a chain's internal structures are not always available. In this paper, we introduce a fully automatable, flexible, and platform-agnostic profiling system that allows to profile entire SFCs at once. This obviates manual modeling procedures to combine profiling results from single VNFs to reflect SFC performance. We use a case study with different SFC configurations to show that it is hard to model the resulting SFC performance based on single-VNF measurements and that performance interactions between real, non-trivial functions that are deployed in a chain exist.

Specifying and Analyzing Virtual Network Services Using Queuing Petri Nets

S.B. Schneider, A. Sharma, H. Karl, H. Wehrheim, in: 2019 IFIP/IEEE International Symposium on Integrated Network Management (IM), IFIP, 2019, pp. 116--124

For optimal placement and orchestration of network services, it is crucial that their structure and semantics are specified clearly and comprehensively and are available to an orchestrator. Existing specification approaches are either ambiguous or miss important aspects regarding the behavior of virtual network functions (VNFs) forming a service. We propose to formally and unambiguously specify the behavior of these functions and services using Queuing Petri Nets (QPNs). QPNs are an established method that allows to express queuing, synchronization, stochastically distributed processing delays, and changing traffic volume and characteristics at each VNF. With QPNs, multiple VNFs can be connected to complete network services in any structure, even specifying bidirectional network services containing loops. We discuss how management and orchestration systems can benefit from our clear and comprehensive specification approach, leading to better placement of VNFs and improved Quality of Service. Another benefit of formally specifying network services with QPNs are diverse analysis options, which allow valuable insights such as the distribution of end-to-end delay. We propose a tool-based workflow that supports the specification of network services and the automatic generation of corresponding simulation code to enable an in-depth analysis of their behavior and performance.

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Information about the project:       
Project members: Holger Karl
  Sevil Dräxler
  Manuel Peuster
Project website:
Type: 5G-PPP
Started: July 2015
Finished: December 2017
Contact: Holger Karl

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 671517.

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