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Towards SDN/NFV-based Mobile Packet Core: Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Solutions
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Mathematics and Computer Science (from 2013). (Distributed Systems and Communications)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9399-8425
2018 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In mobile networks, the mobile core plays a crucial role in providing connectivity between mobile user devices and external packet data networks such as the Internet. Through the years, along with the dramatical changes in radio access networks, the mobile core has also been evolved from being a circuit-based analog telephony system in its first generation (1G) to become a purely packet-based network called the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) in the current generation (4G). In recent years, the explosion of mobile data traffic and devices and the advent of new services have led to the investigation of the next generation of mobile networks, i.e., 5G. A wide range of technologies has been proposed as candidates for the development of 5G. Among other technology candidates, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) have been widely considered to be key enablers for the network architecture of 5G, especially the mobile packet core (MPC) network.

This thesis aims at identifying benefits and challenges of introducing SDN and NFV to re-achitect the current MPC network architecture towards 5G and addressing some of the challenges. To this end, we conduct a comprehensive literature review of the state-of-the-art work leveraging SDN and NFV to re-design the 4G EPC architecture. Through this survey work, several research questions for future work have been identified and we contribute to address two of them in this thesis. Firstly, since most of the current works focus on unicast services, we propose an SDN/NFV-based MPC architecture for providing multicast and broadcast services. Our numerical results show that the proposed architecture can reduce the total signaling cost compared to the traditional architecture. Secondly, we address the question regarding the scalability of the control plane. We take the Mobility Management Entity (MME) - one of the EPC key control plane entities - as a case study. In our work, the MME is deployed as a cluster of multiple virtual instances (vMMEs) and a front-end load balancer. We focus on investigating different approaches to achieve better load balancing among these vMMEs, which in turn improves scalability. Our experimental results suggest that carefully selected load balancing algorithms can significantly reduce the control plane latency.

Abstract [en]

In mobile networks, the mobile core plays a crucial role in providing connectivity between mobile user devices and external packet data networks such as the Internet. After more than three decades, the mobile core has been gradually evolved through four generations and is called the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) in the current generation (4G). In recent years, the explosion of mobile data traffic and devices and the advent of new services have led to the investigation of the next generation of mobile networks, i.e., 5G. Among other technology candidates, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) have been widely considered to be key enablers for the network architecture of 5G, especially the mobile packet core (MPC) network.

This thesis aims at identifying benefits and challenges of introducing SDN and NFV to re-achitect the current MPC architecture towards 5G and addressing some of the challenges. To this end, we conduct a comprehensive survey of the existing SDN/NFV-based MPC architectures. Through this survey work, several research questions for future work have been identified and we contribute to address two of the research questions. Firstly, we propose an SDN/NFV-based MPC architecture for providing multicast and broadcast services. Secondly, we tackle the scalability problem of the Mobility Management Entity (MME) - one of the EPC key control plane entities. In particular, we investigate different approaches to achieve better load balancing among virtual MMEs in a virtual and distributed MME design, which in turn improves scalability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2018. , p. 16
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2018:25
Keywords [en]
mobile packet core, evolved packet core, SDN, NFV, 5G, scalability, load balancing, control plane, open5Gcore
National Category
Computer Sciences
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67132ISBN: 978-91-7063-858-9 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7063-953-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-67132DiVA, id: diva2:1202789
Presentation
2018-06-11, 1B309, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
HITS, 4707
Funder
Knowledge FoundationAvailable from: 2018-05-23 Created: 2018-04-30 Last updated: 2019-11-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. 5G Mobile Networks – Requirements, Enabling Technologies, and Research Activities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>5G Mobile Networks – Requirements, Enabling Technologies, and Research Activities
2017 (English)In: Comprehensive Guide to 5G Security / [ed] Madhusanka Liyanage, Andrei Gurtov, Mika Yliantilla, Ijaz Ahmed & Ahmed Bux Abro, John Wiley & Sons, 2017Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2017
National Category
Telecommunications
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48036 (URN)10.1002/9781119293071.ch2 (DOI)978-1-119-29304-0 (ISBN)
Projects
High Quality Networked Services in a Mobile World (HITS)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2017-02-27 Created: 2017-02-27 Last updated: 2019-06-17Bibliographically approved
2. SDN/NFV-Based Mobile Packet Core Network Architectures: A Survey
Open this publication in new window or tab >>SDN/NFV-Based Mobile Packet Core Network Architectures: A Survey
2017 (English)In: IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials, ISSN 1553-877X, E-ISSN 1553-877X, Vol. 19, no 3, p. 1567-1602Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The emergence of two new technologies, namely Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) have radically changed the development of network functions and the evolution of network architectures. These two technologies bring to mobile operators the promises of reducing costs, enhancing network flexibility and scalability, and shortening the time-to-market of new applications and services. With the advent of SDN and NFV and their offered benefits, the mobile operators are gradually changing the way how they architect their mobile networks to cope with ever-increasing growth of data traffic, massive number of new devices and network accesses, and to pave the way towards the upcoming fifth generation (5G) networking. This paper aims at providing a comprehensive survey of state-of-the-art research work, which leverages SDN and NFV into the most recent mobile packet core network architecture, Evolved Packet Core (EPC). The research work is categorized into smaller groups according to a proposed four-dimensional taxonomy reflecting the (1) architectural ap- proach, (2) technology adoption, (3) functional implementation, and (4) deployment strategy. Thereafter, the research work is exhaustively compared based on the proposed taxonomy and some added attributes and criteria. Finally, the paper identifies and discusses some major challenges and open issues such as scalability and reliability, optimal resource scheduling and allocation, management and orchestration, network sharing and slicing that raise from the taxonomy and comparison tables that need to be further investigated and explored. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE Communications Society, 2017
Keywords
software defined network, sdn, network function virtualization, nfv, mobile packet core, evolved packet core, epc, future mobile networks, 5g networking
National Category
Telecommunications
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48206 (URN)10.1109/COMST.2017.2690823 (DOI)000408253800010 ()
Projects
High Quality Networked Services in a Mobile World (HITS)
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2017-03-27 Created: 2017-03-27 Last updated: 2018-08-15Bibliographically approved
3. SDN-based Mobile Packet Core for Multicast and Broadcast Services
Open this publication in new window or tab >>SDN-based Mobile Packet Core for Multicast and Broadcast Services
2018 (English)In: Wireless networks, ISSN 1022-0038, E-ISSN 1572-8196, Vol. 24, no 5, p. 1715-1729Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current mobile packet core network is evolving to cope with the pressure of the mobile traffic explosion and the advent of new services. Software-defined networking (SDN) is currently being adopted as one of the promising drivers for redesigning the mobile packet core network toward a 5G network. SDN-based mobile packet core approaches are expected to deliver features, such as fast service deployment, flexibility, and capital expenditure and operational expenditure reduction within future 5G networks. However, current SDN-based mobile packet core approaches only focus on providing unicast services without considering multicast and broadcast services. In this article, we propose an efficient SDN-based mobile packet core network architecture for supporting multicast and broadcast services. The proposed architecture takes advantage of the SDN paradigm and enables multicast and broadcast service deployment. In addition, a new SDN-based multicast subscription procedure is introduced to reduce network bandwidth resources. By numerical analysis, our scheme improves the current multicast and broadcast solution in terms of signaling cost.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, USA: Springer Science+Business Media B.V., 2018
Keywords
SDN, Mobile Packet Core, Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service, SDN-based Mobile Network
National Category
Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering Computer Sciences
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-66483 (URN)10.1007/s11276-016-1433-6 (DOI)
Projects
HITS, 4707
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2018-02-26 Created: 2018-02-26 Last updated: 2019-11-07Bibliographically approved
4. On Load Balancing for a Virtual and Distributed MME in the 5G Core
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On Load Balancing for a Virtual and Distributed MME in the 5G Core
2018 (English)In: 2018 IEEE 29th Annual International Symposium on Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC), IEEE, 2018Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we aim at tackling the scalability problem of the Mobility Management Entity (MME), which plays a crucial role of handling control plane traffic in the current 4G Evolved Packet Core as well as the next generation mobile core, 5G. One of the solutions to this problem is to virtualize the MME by applying Network Function Virtualization principles and then deploy it as a cluster of multiple virtual MME instances (vMMEs) with a front-end load balancer. Although several designs have been proposed, most of them assume the use of simple algorithms such as random and round-robin to balance the incoming traffic without any performance assessment. To this end, we implemented a weighted round robin algorithm which takes into account the heterogeneity of resources such as the capacity of vMMEs. We compare this algorithm with a random and a round-robin algorithm under two different system settings. Experimental results suggest that carefully selected load balancing algorithms can significantly reduce the control plane latency as compared to simple random or round-robin schemes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE, 2018
Series
IEEE International Symposium on Personal, Indoor, and Mobile Radio Communications workshops, E-ISSN 2166-9589
Keywords
5G, MME, Load Balancing, Scalability, Open5GCore
National Category
Computer Sciences Telecommunications
Research subject
Computer Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-67242 (URN)10.1109/PIMRC.2018.8580693 (DOI)000457761900011 ()978-1-5386-6010-2 (ISBN)978-1-5386-6009-6 (ISBN)
Conference
2018 IEEE 29th Annual International Symposium on Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC)
Projects
HITS, 4707
Funder
Knowledge Foundation
Available from: 2018-04-30 Created: 2018-04-30 Last updated: 2019-11-10Bibliographically approved

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