Network Slicing and 5G: Why it’s important, ITU-T SG 13 work, related IEEE ComSoc paper abstracts/overviews

Why end-to-end network slicing will be important for 5G:

In network slicing of a 5G network, the intent is to take infra­structure resources from the spectrum, antennas and all of the backend network and equipment and use it to create multiple sub-networks with different properties. Each sub-network slices the resources from the physical network, end to end, to create its own independent, no-compromise network for its preferred applications.

One slice type is specifically targeted for ultra-low latency and high reliability (like self-driving vehicles) (URRLC), another slice type is spe­cifically targeted for devices that don’t have large batteries (like sensors) (MMTC) and need efficiency and yet another slice type is targeted at ultra-high speed (eMBB) as required for 4K or immersive 3d video. While the initial standards work calls for only three slice types, the architec­tures are flexible for future slice types.

Since it would be far too expensive to allocate a complete end-to-end network to each type of slice, the network infrastructure that supports 5G (and likely 4G) will employ sharing techniques (virtualization and cloud), which allow for mul­tiple slice types to co-exist without having too many multiples of the resources.

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ITU–T Study Group 13 (SG13) recently cre­ated a Focus Group with a mandate to research the areas that needed standardization for the non-radio aspects of 5G. The harmonious oper­ation through software control, referred to as “softwarization” of all of the components of the 5G network, was one of the many subjects stud­ied by the Focus Group, and which is now being more formally considered by SG13. Many of the areas requiring control are not uniquely wireless components but are also involved in service providers’ other end-to-end-businesses. For example, the cloud and transport networks which interconnect them will require new agile control to ensure that the packet, non-packet interconnections and compute, meet the Quality-of-Service (QoS) demands of that slice. The success of 5G lies in entire ecosystems 5G slicing technology, to be truly successful, will need entire ecosystems to come together to solve and standardize their end-to-end applications.

Read more here.

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Selected IEEE ComSoc Papers on 5G Network Slicing:

Efficient and Secure Service-oriented Authentication Supporting Network Slicing for 5G-enabled IoT

by Jianbing Ni, Student Member, IEEE, Xiaodong Lin, Fellow, IEEE, Xuemin (Sherman) Shen, Fellow, IEEE (edited by Alan J Weissberger)

To be published in a future issue of IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications sometime in 2018 

Abstract

“5G” network is considered as a key enabler in meeting continuously increasing demands for future Internet of Things (IoT) services which will connect numerous devices.  Those IoT demands include high data rate  and  very low network latency. To satisfy these demands, network slicing and FOG computing have been envisioned as promising solutions in service-oriented 5G architecture. However, security paradigms enabling authentication and confidentiality of 5G communications for IoT services remain elusive, but indispensable. In this paper, we propose an efficient and secure service oriented authentication framework supporting network slicing and fog computing for 5G-enabled IoT services.

Specifically, users may efficiently establish connections over a 5G core network and anonymously access IoT services under their delegation through proper network slices of 5G infrastructure.  The particular 5G service might be selected by FOG nodes based on the slice/service types of accessing services. The privacy preserving slice selection mechanism is introduced to preserve both configured slice types and accessing service types of users. In addition, session keys are negotiated among users, local fogs and IoT servers to guarantee secure access of service data in fog cache and remote servers with low latency. We evaluate the performance of the proposed framework through simulations to demonstrate its efficiency and feasibility under 5G infrastructure.

From the Introduction:

How to enhance security and privacy protection for IoT services powered by 5G is the focus of this paper.  To secure 5G-enabled IoT services, a national demand is to design efficient service-oriented authentication protocols for numerous users with the severe demands of different IoT services. To preserve user privacy, it is critical to hide users’ identities during service authentication. Thus, the challenge is to support anonymous service-oriented authentication with scalability of handing a large number of authentication requests.  Furthermore, after users’ identities are well protected, it is still possible for local fog nodes to identify users through some side-channel information, such as users’ accessing services, which results in unwelcome advertisements for users.

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Network slicing for 5G systems: A review from an architecture and standardization perspective

by Riccardo Trivisonno; Xueli An; Qing Wei

Published in: Standards for Communications and Networking (CSCN), 2017 IEEE Conference in Helsinki, Finland, 18-20 Sept. 2017.

Abstract:

The discussion around Network Slicing for 5G Systems is slowly converging to concrete solutions which will be adopted in the early deployment of 5G Networks due by 2020. In particular, within 3GPP standardization body, study items recently completed have finalized the definition of 5G System architecture, comprising Access and Core Networks, and defined the key design principles for End to End Network Slicing. This paper reviews the latest achievements of 3GPP SA2 and RAN3 Working Groups (WGs) in this respect, relating them to the genesis of Network Slicing and to prior 4G technical solutions, which can be considered precursors of the concept. Essentially, this paper timely clarifies how Network Slicing will be brought into real systems, and sheds some light on the necessary next steps to further progress on the topic.
Introduction:
In the ongoing hectic activities aiming at defining and standardizing 5G System (5GS) cornerstones, targeting an early deployment in the 2020 horizon, Network Slicing is amongst the most debated issues. The concept of Network Slicing was brought into the 5G system domain by early discussions among mobile network operators within NGMN. To shed some light on the concept, it is beneficial to fall back to its genesis.

The problem statement originated back in 2015, at the time 5G use cases were analyzed ([1]), when it emerged 4G network architecture did not suit with the diversity of requirements derived from 5G use cases. 4G architecture was considered “not flexible and scalable enough to efficiently support a wider range of business needed when each has its own specific set of performance, scalability and availability requirements”. Additionally, it was argued that a future-proof 5G system should have been conceived allowing efficient introduction of new network services. From this simple and clear starting point, the concept of Network Slicing for 5G was introduced. According to NGMN, the network slicing concept consisted of 3 layers: Service Instance Layer, Network Slice Instance (NSI) Layer, and Resource layer. As described in [1], “the Service Instance Layer represents the services which are to be supported. Each service is represented by a Service Instance.” Also, [1] stated “a Service Instance can either represent an operator service or a 3rd party provided service”. Furthermore, NGMN assumed a network operator would use a Network Slice Blueprint to create an NSI. An NSI provides the network characteristics which are required by a Service Instance. An NSI may also be shared across multiple Service Instances provided by the network operator. An NSI was defined as “ a set of network functions, and resources to run these network functions, forming a complete instantiated logical network to meet certain network characteristics required by the Service Instance (s) ”. Network Slice Blueprint was defined as a complete description of the structure, configuration and the plans/work flows for how to instantiate and control the NSI during its life cycle. A Network Slice Blueprint enables the instantiation of a Network Slice and describes required physical and logical resources. NGMN definitions are sound and complete but, being written from network operator’s standpoint, they focus on the end service perspective and they fail to distinguish among domains they apply to. In particular, it is straightforward the Network Slice Blueprint definition includes system architecture, network lifecycle/management and resource/infrastructure aspects.

The implicit wide scope of such definitions and the appeal the slicing concept was gaining in the R&D community triggered a number of initiatives aiming at extending and clarifying the concepts in all possible concerned domains (see e.g. [2] for SDN related aspects, or [3] for protocols ecosystem issues). The bottom line is: to further progress in the definition of the technologies required to bring Network Slicing into real systems, it is essential to focus on a narrower scope.

The scope of this paper is restricted to 5G end to end System Architecture aspects (i.e. Access and Core networks), leaving aside network management, transport network, network and data centres infrastructure issues. The purpose of this paper is to examine the 4G legacy on Network Slicing (where related early concepts can be found), to review the current status of 5G system standardization in this respect, and to highlight the critical open points which will require significant effort before 5G standardization completes.

The paper is organized as follows: Sec II looks back to 4G systems, analysing early solutions which can be considered precursors of Network Slicing. Sec III presents an in-depth review of latest achievements from 3GPP WGs, which cast the actual foundations over which 5GS will be built. Sec IV highlights the key open issues on which research and standardization will further devote significant effort. Finally, Sec V concludes the paper.

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Network Slicing for 5G: Challenges and Opportunities

by Xin Li; Mohammed Samaka; H. Anthony Chan; Deval Bhamare; Lav Gupta; Chengcheng Guo; Raj Jain

Published in: IEEE Internet Computing (Volume: 21Issue: 5, 2017)

Abstract:

Network slicing for 5G provides Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) for different use cases, allowing network operators to build multiple virtual networks on a shared infrastructure. With network slicing, service providers can deploy their applications and services flexibly and quickly to accommodate diverse services’ specific requirements. As an emerging technology with a number of advantages, network slicing has raised many issues for the industry and academia alike. Here, the authors discuss this technology’s background and propose a framework. They also discuss remaining challenges and future research directions.
Research in fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks has gained momentum in both academia and industry recently. These 5G mobile networks will carry a plethora of mobile devices and provide faster network connection speed. In addition, mobile data traffic in future 5G networks will experience explosive growth. According to the latest Cisco forecast,1 by 2020, the number of devices connected to mobile networks will exceed the world’s population, reaching 11.6 billion. At that time, mobile data traffic will be 30.6 exabytes per month, which is 8 times that in 2015. However, the most challenging aspect is that 5G networks will support a wide variety of use cases, as we’re entering the era of the Internet of Everything (IoE). Some applications, such as ultra-high defmition (UHD) video and augmented reality need high-speed, high-capacity communications, while others such as the mission-critical Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles require ultralow latency, ultra-reliable services.

Traditional mobile communication networks employ the one-size-fits-all approach to providing services to mobile devices, regardless of the communication requirements of vertical services. This design philosophy can’t offer differentiated services. Hence, it’s necessary for the research community to explore new techniques to address the challenges associated with supporting vertical industries in 5G networks.

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) have been proposed as key technologies to build softwarized, virtualized, and cloudified 5G systems in recent years. SDN2 decouples network control and data forwarding. Network control functions can run as applications independently in the logically centralized controllers. NFV3 decouples specific network functions from dedicated and expensive hardware platforms to general-purpose commodity hardware. Network operators can implement a variety of virtual network functions (VNFs) over the standard commodity servers. In addition, Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)4 as a key emerging technology in 5G is expected to serve low-latency communication that’s one of the use cases in future 5G. It moves computing, storage, and networking resources from remote public clouds closer to the edge of the network. Thus, mobile clients can request virtual resources within the access network and experience low end-to-end delay.

The concept of network slicing 5 has been proposed to address the diversified service requirements in 5G under the background of the aforementioned technologies. Network slicing is an end-to-end logical network provisioned with a set of isolated virtual resources on the shared physical infrastructure. These logical networks are provided as different services to fulfill users’ varying communication requirements. Network slicing provides a network-as-a-service (NaaS) model, flexibly allocating and reallocating resources according to dynamic demands, such that it can customize network slices for diverse and complex 5G communication scenarios.

Network slicing will be the fundamental feature of 5G networks. Slice-based 5G has the following significant advantages when compared with traditional networks:

  • Network slicing can provide logical networks with better performance than one-size-fits-all networks.
  • A network slice can scale up or down as service requirements and the number of users change.
  • Network slices can isolate the network resources of one service from the others; the configurations among various slices don’t affect each other. Therefore, the reliability and security of each slice can be enhanced.
  • Finally, a network slice is customized according to service requirements, which can optimize the allocation and use of physical network resources.

With this in mind, next we discuss some details on network slicing for 5G networks and explore why 5G needs network slicing, as well as how to implement network slicing in 5G. For others’ work on network slicing for 5G, see the related subhead below.

Network Slicing in 5G

Fifth-generation networks need to integrate multiple services with various performance requirements — such as high throughput, low latency, high reliability, high mobility, and high security — into a single physical network infrastructure, and provide each service with a customized logical network (that is, network slicing). The Third-Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has identified network slicing as one of the key technologies to achieve the aforementioned goals in future 5G networks. Some 3GPP work items have the features of network slicing: for example, the dedicated core (DÉCOR) feature supports the operator to deploy multiple dedicated core networks by sharing a common Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN). An exhaustive description about how the next-generation wireless system will support network slicing is provided elsewhere.6

Network slicing refers to partitioning of one physical network into multiple virtual networks, each architected and optimized for a specific application/service. Specifically speaking, a network slice is a virtual network that’s created on top of a physical network in such a way that it gives the illusion to the slice tenant of operating its own dedicated physical network. A network slice is a self-contained network with its own virtual resources, topology, traffIC flow, and provisioning rules. There might be various network slices to meet the specific communication needs of different users in the future mobile network systems. For example, a massive industrial IoT slice might need a light 5G core, with no handover but a large number of connections. On the other hand, a mobile broadband slice might need a high-capacity core, full feature mobility, and low latency. Slices are logically isolated, but resources can be shared among them. Figure 1 illustrates the network slicing concept.

Figure 1

Figure 1.Conceptual illustration of network slicing. NFV stands for Network Function Virtualization, RAN stands for radio access network, and SDN stands for software-defined networking.

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Network slicing makes use of the concept known as network virtualization. Network virtualization enables flexible and dynamic network management to address the problem of network ossification by allowing multiple heterogeneous and service-specific virtual networks to share a single substrate network.

In addition, the emerging technologies software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are considered as the necessary tools to implement network slicing. The following work summarizes use of SDN and NFV to implement 5G network slicing.

Csaba Simon and colleagues1 propose a flexible 5G network architecture to support the coexistence of heterogeneous services and to quickly create services. The authors propose to use SDN and NFV in the architecture to realize the sharing of resources by different services and orchestrating resources automatically. The concept of resource slicing is similar to network slicing in the proposed architecture. Resource slices, which include virtual resources and virtual network functions, are tailored on-demand according to service categories, namely slice as a service (SlaaS).

Manuel Peuster and colleagues designed an NFV-based platform called Multi Datacenter service ChaIN Emulator (MeDICINE) for network services.2 It allows management and orchestration (MANO) system to deploy virtual network resources for network services in a multi-domain infrastructure. The design and implementation of this platform show that NFV plays an important role in realizing network slicing.

Navid Nikaein and colleagues3 proposed a novel slice-based 5G architecture based on SDN, NFV, and cloud computing. They designed the elements required to implement network slicing and present a validation prototype. The concept of a network store in this work can achieve dynamic 5G network slicing. The authors discuss building a multitenant and multiservice end-to-end 5G mobile network architecture using SDN, NFV, and network slicing in the 5G NORMA project.4

Mobile operators, hardware manufacturers and open source communities are also actively studying the ways to implement 5G network slicing. Ericsson and NTT DOCOMO successfully showed a dynamic 5G network slicing proof of concept on 9 June 2016.5 Ericsson6 discussed the decomposition schemes of radio access network (RAN) functions that can support network slicing. The schemes provide a meaningful guidance for implementing flexible and resilient RAN slices.

Very recently, Huawei (with other three enterprises) released a network slicing white paper.7 They discussed several key technologies, such as network management system and security to achieve service-guaranteed network slicing, which will be helpful for network industries.

It’s worth noting that the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), established in February 2017, is working on a cloud-centric and SDN/NFV-based network platform, which might lay the groundwork for the implementation of 5G network slicing. Also, currently, the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF) is launching a working group for 5G network slicing.

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Network Slicing for 5G with SDN/NFV: Concepts, Architectures, and Challenges

by Jose Ordonez-Lucena; Pablo Ameigeiras; Diego Lopez; Juan J. Ramos-Munoz; Javier Lorca; Jesus Folgueira

Published in: IEEE Communications Magazine Volume: 55Issue: 5, May 2017 )

Abstract:

The fifth generation of mobile communications is anticipated to open up innovation opportunities for new industries such as vertical markets. However, these verticals originate myriad use cases with diverging requirements that future 5G networks have to efficiently support. Network slicing may be a natural solution to simultaneously accommodate, over a common network infrastructure, the wide range of services that vertical- specific use cases will demand. In this article, we present the network slicing concept, with a particular focus on its application to 5G systems. We start by summarizing the key aspects that enable the realization of so-called network slices. Then we give a brief overview on the SDN architecture proposed by the ONF and show that it provides tools to support slicing. We argue that although such architecture paves the way for network slicing implementation, it lacks some essential capabilities that can be supplied by NFV. Hence, we analyze a proposal from ETSI to incorporate the capabilities of SDN into the NFV architecture. Additionally, we present an example scenario that combines SDN and NFV technologies to address the realization of network slices. Finally, we summarize the open research issues with the purpose of motivating new advances in this field.
Overview:
The authors present the network slicing concept, with a particular focus on its application to 5G systems. They start by summarizing the key aspects that enable the realization of so-called network slices. Then they give a brief overview on the SDN architecture proposed by the ONF and show that it provides tools to support slicing. They argue that although such architecture paves the way for network slicing implementation, it lacks some essential capabilities that can be supplied by NFV.

5 thoughts on “Network Slicing and 5G: Why it’s important, ITU-T SG 13 work, related IEEE ComSoc paper abstracts/overviews

  1. This blog helped me wrap my head around “slicing”. Just the right level of detail. Having the papers with overview also was very helpful.
    IMHO, the slicing for 5G will turn out to be far more complicated and difficult than currently expected, because the slices will be built on top of 5G which will itself be massively complicated to build. But what fun!

  2. by Ericsson
    Network slicing is a powerful virtualization capability and one of the key capabilities that will enable flexibility, as it allows multiple logical networks to be created on top of a common shared physical infrastructure. The greater elasticity brought about by network slicing will help to address the cost, efficiency, and flexibility requirements imposed by future demands.
    Technologies like SDN and network virtualization are enabling a drastic change to take place in network architecture, allowing traditional structures to be broken down into customizable elements that 
can be chained together programmatically to provide just the right level of connectivity, with each element running on the architecture of its choice. This is the concept of network slicing that will enable networks to be built in a way that maximizes flexibility.

    https://www.ericsson.com/digital-services/trending/network-slicing

  3. Thank for the explanation of Network Slicing. To some extent, it seems like a virtual private network for wireless, except it’s for different applications.

  4. ITU-T SG13 future recommendations related to 5G Network Slicing:

    -Y.NetSoft-SSSDN Q21/13 High level architectural model of network slice support for IMT-2020 – Part: SDN
    -Under study Y.NSOM Q21/13 Network slicing orchestration and management
    -Under study Y.SFCM Q21/13 Service function chaining in mobile network

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