Telecommunications Software and Systems Group


  

Autonomic Management of Communications Networks & Services

SFI Logo The “Autonomic Management of Communications Networks and Services” research programme addresses the essence of Autonomic Management, which is the ability for a system to self-govern its behaviour within the constraints of the business goals that the system as a whole seeks to achieve. It aims to develop a reference architectural framework for autonomic communications, which will facilitate the definition, creation, deployment and management of communications services in line with high level business goals, but without the requirement for significant human intervention. Fundamental part of the work is the use of information modelling to capture knowledge relating to network capabilities, environmental constraints and business goals/policies, together with ontological engineering to provide inferencing capabilities. This foundation is supplemented by reasoning and learning mechanisms to enhance and evolve this knowledge. Policy-based network management systems incorporating translation/code generation will use this knowledge to automatically configure network elements in response to changing business goals and/or environmental context. This realises an autonomic control loop, in which the system senses changes in itself and its environment, analyses these data to ensure that business goals and objectives are being met; expedites changes should these goals and objectives be threatened, and observes the result to ensure that closed-loop operation is maintained.

Extended Description

This programme seeks to develop novel methodologies, architectures, processes and algorithms to enable autonomic network management. The essence of autonomic management is the ability for a network, or a system that contains one or more networks, to self-govern its behaviour within the constraints of the business goals that the system as a whole seeks to achieve.
This programme is investigating the use of information modelling to capture knowledge defining network capabilities, environmental constraints and business goals/policies, together with ontological engineering to provide inference capabilities. This foundation is then structured into novel knowledge structures and given to reasoning and learning mechanisms to enable the network to customise the services and resources that it is supplying at any given time. Policy-based network management systems incorporating translation/code generation will use this knowledge to automatically configure network elements in response to changing business goals and/or environmental context. This realises an autonomic control loop, in which the system senses changes in itself and its environment, analyses these data to ensure that business goals and objectives are being met; expedites changes should these goals and objectives be threatened, and observes the result to ensure that closed-loop operation is maintained.
The used model-centric approach will deliver considerable improvements over existing network management systems, since it will support the reconfiguration of networks with minimal human intervention. This is achieved through the use of the policy continuum, which enables the different terminologies and expression of goals from different constituencies (e.g., business and programming personnel) to be harmonised. However, in order to deliver full autonomic network management capabilities, it is also necessary to introduce processes and algorithms into the network infrastructure to maintain optimal or near-optimal behaviour in terms of global stability, performance, robustness and security. In particular, this programme seeks to explore if some of these processes and algorithms can be profitably modelled on various biological and/or sociological processes found in the natural world. These processes and algorithms should themselves be represented using the same methodology (i.e., information models and ontologies), so that: (1) their operation can be automatically configured via appropriate policies, and (2) knowledge obtained from them can be integrated with knowledge from the network and other sources.
Modelling and Knowledge Engineering for Autonomic Network Management
The programme is concerned firstly with the development of information and data models which embody the knowledge necessary to realise autonomic network management systems. Existing approaches to information and data modelling are insufficient in a number of areas, the most important of which are (1) the inability to integrate and harmonise different data from different sources, (2) the inability to cope with different programming models and languages used to configure and monitor vendor equipment, (3) the inability to represent behaviour, and (4) the inability to adapt resources and services provided by the network dynamically according to changing demand. The FOCALE architecture, of which our context model is an important part, is designed to address each of these challenges. Our progress to date has built a strong foundation on which to incorporate detailed behavioural modelling, which is crucial to facilitate analysis and control of network dynamic operation. The focus is not on the development of particular network models per se, but rather on providing enhanced modelling techniques that can be applied to model communications networks and services to the level of detailed required supporting autonomic network management.
Secondly, the programme is concerned with the application of state-of-the-art ontological engineering, machine reasoning and learning techniques to analyse knowledge captured in information and data models and automatically generate new knowledge that can be leveraged to autonomically manage the underlying network infrastructure. In particular, the programme will explore how contextual information gathered from the network can be analysed and used to ensure the models accurately reflect the current operational status. For example, we will investigate realisation of processes that can automatically modify or generate policies when services or devices are introduced into the network.
Automating Network Configuration via Model-Centred Policy Analysis and Deployment
Network management can be viewed as the continuous (re-)configuration of network devices and the services offered over them in response to both changing business goals and the environmental context of the network. Autonomic network management seeks to automate this configuration process via a policy-driven closed loop control process that makes decisions using knowledge embodied with information and data models. The programme is focussing on key elements of this closed loop control process.

Policy-controlled Network Algorithms and Processes
The model-centred approach provides for centralised control of network behaviour; however, this approach is limited by the capabilities (and configurability) of the network devices. True autonomic network management will, we believe, additionally require the deployment of processes and algorithms within network devices themselves in order to exhibit self-governance. These would act in a highly distributed manner, serving to optimise network behaviour with respect to stability, performance, robustness and security.
A number of autonomic capabilities can be found in nature itself. Biological analogies, which have received tremendous attention in recent times, not only support the vision of autonomic computing, but can also be found in applications of traditional network protocols (e.g. ants for load balancing). Our aim is to discover novel models found in molecular and physiological biology that can support a solution towards achieving autonomic capabilities in communication networks. The vision of autonomic communication systems is for network devices and software components to interact autonomously in a collective fashion in order to support global self-governance. Three crucial requirements towards achieving autonomic capabilities are self-knowledge, self-organisation and self-governance. Self-knowledge provides the ability to learn from experience and reason when confronted with choice; self-organisation enables extensibility by combining simple, manageable components into more complex collections; self-governance ensures that business goals drive networks and services supplied at any given time. The approach we have taken is to employ a number of biological analogies and principles that can use these three capabilities to collectively support the vision of autonomic systems. In particular we have focused on the principles from physiological biology, which maps the blood glucose homeostasis techniques to achieve overall system resource management, and molecular biology principles which uses reaction-diffusion like principles to achieve de-centralised self-organisation, chemotaxis for route discovery, and of hormone signalling for discovering neighbour resources and services.

Architecture and Methodology for Autonomic Network Management
The programme will seek to incrementally integrate research outputs in modelling, knowledge engineering, model-centred automatic network configuration and policy-controlled network optimisation in an architecture and associated methodology that can be applied to realise autonomic network management systems. This architecture will be formulated via architectural concepts (addressing requirements and objectives of autonomic network management) and rules (providing a conceptual model). Concepts and rules, in combination, will lead to architectural modes that define an architecture and its components.
This architecture will build upon concepts and approaches developed by the TeleManagement Forum’s NGOSS initiative, coupled with service management (IN by the ITU-T and TINA by the TINA consortium). Dissemination of this work will be done via submissions to the Autonomic Communications Forum, targeting its Architecture Expert Group, for subsequent standardisation.

Researchers involved in Autonomic Management

Waterford Institute of Technology, TSSG, Ireland

Dr. Willie Donnelly, Director TSSG, (Joint PI SFI Programme), [Nov 2004 - ]
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Mícheál Ó Foghlú, Research Director TSSG, [Nov 2004 - ]
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Dr. Sven van der Meer, Senior Investigator, [Nov 2004 - ]
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Dr. Brendan Jennings, Senior Investigator, [Nov 2004 - ]
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Dr. Tom Pfeifer, Senior Investigator, [Nov 2004 - Dec 2005]
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Dr. Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Senior Investigator, [Jul 2005 - ]
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Dr. Dmitri Botvich, Senior Investigator, [Dec 2005 - ]
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Motorola Autonomic Labs, Chicago, USA

John Strassner, Director Autonomic Labs, (Joint PI SFI Programme), [Nov 2004 - ]
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Dave Raymer, Chief Architect, Autonomic Labs, [Nov 2004 - ]

Greg Cox, Autonomic Labs, [Nov 2004 - ]

External Collaborators

University College Cork (UCC), Ireland

Dr. Simon Foley

Université d'Evry, France

Prof. Nazim Agoulmine

IIE, France

Prof. Yacine Ghamri-Doudane

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain

Prof. Joan Serrat

Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore

Prof. Ponnuthurai Nagaratnam Suganthan

Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), Singapore

Dr. Tao Gu

General Publicity

Euro-Southeast Asia, EU Pavilion, 19th – 23rd June, 2006

Summary of outputs

Books (2006)
State, R., van der Meer, S., O'Sullivan, D., Pfeifer, T. (Eds.), Large Scale Management of Distributed Systems. 17th IFIP/IEEE International Workshop on Distributed Systems: Operations and Management, DSOM 2006, Dublin, Ireland, Oct 2006, Proceedings. - Heidelberg: Springer LNCS Vol. 4269, ISBN 3-540-47659-8, 304 pp

Helmy, A., Jennings, B., Murphy, L., Pfeifer, T. (Eds.), Autonomic Management of Mobile Multimedia Services. 9th IFIP/IEEE International Conference on Management of Multimedia and Mobile Networks and Services, MMNS 2006, Dublin, Ireland, Oct 2006, Proceedings. - Heidelberg: Springer LNCS Vol. 4267, ISBN 3-540-47654-7, 276 pp


Pfeifer, T., Schmidt, A., Woo, W. et al. (Eds.), Advances in Pervasive Computing 2006. Adjunct Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Pervasive Computing, May 07-10, 2006, Dublin, Ireland. - Vienna: Austrian Computer Society, ISBN 3-85403-207-2, OCG Band 207, 243 pp


Pfeifer, T., Downes, B., Mobile Magazines. - Chapter in: I. K. Ibrahim (Ed.): Handbook of Research on Mobile Multimedia. London, UK, Hershey PA Hershey: Idea Group, 2006. ISBN 1-59140-866-0 (hardcover), 1-59140-868-7 (ebook), 20 pp


Refereed Academic papers (2006 only)
Agoulmine, N., Balasubramaniam, S., Botvich, D., Strassner, J., Lehtihet, E., Donnelly, W., Challenges for Autonomic Network Management, accepted for 1st conference on Modelling Autonomic Communication Environment (MACE), Dublin, Ireland, October 2006.


Balasubramaniam, S., Botvich, D., Donnelly, W., Ó Foghlú, M., Strassner, J., Application of Blood Glucose Homeostasis, Chemotaxis, and Hormone Signaling towards Self-Governance and Self-Organisation for Autonomic Networks, Proceedings of First International Conference on Bio Inspired models of Networks, Information and Computing Systems (BIONETICS), Cavalese, Italy, December 2006.


Balasubramaniam, S., Barrett, K., Strassner, J., Donnelly, W., van der Meer, S., Bio-inspired Policy Based Management (bioPBM) for Autonomic Communication Systems, Proceedings of 7th IEEE workshop on Policies for Distributed Systems and Networks (Policy 2006), Ontario, Canada, June 2006.


Balasubramaniam, S., Botvich, D., Donnelly, W., Agoulmine, N., Applying Blood Glucose Homeostatic model towards Self-Management of IP QoS Provisioned Networks, Accepted for 6th IEEE International Workshop on IP Operations and Management (IPOM 2006), LNCS, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006.


Balasubramaniam, S., Donnelly, W., Botvich, D., Agoulmine, N., Strassner, N., Towards Integrating Principles of Molecular Biology for Autonomic Network Management, Proceedings of 13th HP Open View University Association Workshop (HP-OVUA), Sophia Antipolis, France, May 2006. (short paper)


Balasubramaniam, S Pfeifer, T., Indulska, J., "Active Node supporting Context-aware Vertical Handover in Pervasive Computing Environment with Redundant Positioning." IEEE International Symposium on Wireless Pervasive Computing 2006, ISWPC2006, 16-18 Jan 2006, Phuket, Thailand Los Alamitos (USA): IEEE Computer Society Press, ISBN 0-7803-9411


Carroll, R., E., Fahey, C., Lehtihet, van der Meer, S., Georgalas, N., Cleary, D. 2006, in Proceedings of 10th IEEE/IFIP Network Operations and Management Symposium, Vancouver, Canada, April 2006.
Carroll, R., Strassner, J., Cox, G., van der Meer, S. 2006, “Policy and Profile: Enabling Self-Knowledge for Autonomic Systems”, in Proceedings of IEEE/IFIP Distributed Systems Operations & Management, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006.


Davy, S.,  Barrett, K., Balasubramaniam, S., Strassner, J., van der Meer, S., & Jennings, B., Policy-Based Architecture to enable Autonomic Communications – A Position Paper, Proceedings of IEEE Consumer Communications and Network Conference (CCNC) 2006, special session on Autonomic Communications, Las Vegas, USA, January 2006.


Davy, A., Botvich, D. D., Jennings, B., “An Efficient Process for Estimation of Network Demand for QoS- Aware IP Network Planning”, in Proc 6th IEEE Workshop in IP Operations and Management, Eds. Parr, G., Malone, D., Ó Foghlú, M., LNCS Autonomic Principles of IP Operations and Management, vol. 4268/2006, pp. 120-131, Springer Berlin/ Heidelberg, ISBN 978-3-540-47701-3, 2006


Feeney, M. & Frisby, R. 2006, "Autonomic Management of Smart Spaces", in Proceeding of the 3rd International Workshop on Managing Ubiquitous Communications And Services (MUCS 2006), Cork, Ireland.
Jennings, B. & Malone, P. 2006, "Flexible Charging for Multi-provider Composed Services using a Federated, Two-phase Rating Process", in Proceeding of the 10th IEEE/IFIP Network Operations and Management Symposium (NOMS 2006), Vancouver, Canada.


Osmani, V., Balasubramaniam, S. & Gu, T,  A Distributed Hierarchical Structure for Object Networks Supporting Activity Recognition, Accepted for 9th IFIP/IEEE International Conference on Management of Multimedia and Mobile Networks and Services (MMNS 2006), LNCS, Dublin, Ireland, October 2006. (short paper).


Osmani, V. & Balasubramaniam, S. 2006, "An Architecture Supporting Human Activity Recognition", in 3rd International Workshop on Managing Ubiquitous Communications and Services (MUCS), Cork, Ireland.


Osmani, V. & Balasubramaniam, S. 2006, "Context Management Support for Activity Recognition in Health-Care", in 3rd International Workshop on Tangible Space Intiative, T. Strang, V. Cahill, & A. Quigley, eds., Dublin, Ireland, pp. 453-466.


Ponce de Leon, M., Eriksson, M., Balasubramaniam, S., and Donnelly, W., Creating a distributed mobile networking testbed environment – through the Living Labs approach, Proceedings of 2nd International IEEE/Create-Net Conference on Testbeds and Research Infrastructures for the Development of Networks and Communities (TridentCom), Barcelona, Spain March, 2006.


Raymer, D., Strassner, J., Lehtihet, E., & van der Meer, S. 2006, "End-to-End Model Driven Policy Based Network Management", in Proceeding of the 7th IEEE Workshop on Policies for Distributed Systems and Networks (Policy 2006), Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Serrano, J., Serrat, J., Strassner, J., Carroll, R., “Policy-Based Management and Context Modelling Contributions for Supporting Autonomic Systems”, IFIP/TC6 Autonomic Networking 2006 - SMARTNET 2006: Tools for the Autonomic Networking. Paris, France, September 2006.


Strassner, J., Agoulmine, N., & Lehtihet, E. 2006, "FOCALE  A Novel Autonomic Networking Architecture", in Latin American Autonomic Computing Symposium (LAACS), Campo Grande, MS, Brazil.


van der Meer, S., Davy, S., Davy, A., Carroll, R., Jennings, B., & Strassner, J. 2006, "Autonomic Networking: Prototype Implementation of the Policy Continuum", in Proceeding of the 1st IEEE International Workshop on Broadband Convergence Networks (BcN)., Vancouver, Canada.


van der Meer, S., Davy, A., Davy, S., Carroll, R., Jennings, B., Strassner, S. 2006, "Automonic Networking: Prototype Implementation of the Policy Continuum", in Proc. Workshop in Broadband Converged Networks at IEEE/IFIP Network Operations & Management Symposium, Vancouver, Canada, April 2006.


Zach, M., Fahey, C., Carroll, R., Lehtihet, E., Parker, D., Georgalas, N., Nielsen, J., Marin, R., Serrat, J. 2006, “Towards a framework for network management applications based on peer-to-peer paradigms”, in Proceedings of 10th IEEE/IFIP Network Operations and Management Symposium, Vancouver, Canada, April 2006.

Invited Talks and Panels

Sven van der Meer Governing Mechanisms - what do we need to make PBM work? Motorola S3 Symposium Invited Speech, 11/9/2006

Sven van der Meer Technological Neutral Architecture and NGOSS Contracts TM Action Week America Workshop Invited Speech, 22/7/2006

DSOM Panel: Research Challenges in Network and Service Management 24/10/2006

MACE Panel: Bio-inspired Network Management: a viable alternative or a pipe dream? 26/10/2006

John Strassner Using Autonomic Services to Manage Converged Services in Next Generation Networks ICAC 2006 Conference Keynote Talk 12-16/6/2006

John Strassner FOCAL - A Model- and Knowledge-driven Architecture to support Autonomic Networking Dagsthul Seminar on Autonomic Networking Invited Seminar Invited Speaker 3-6/1/2006

John Strassner Autonomic Systems and Networks: Theory and Practice NOMS 2006 Conference Tutorial 3-7/4/2006

John Strassner Architectural Considerations for Realizing Self-Governance in Autonomic Systems and Networks CSE 2006 Workshop on Software Engineering for Adaptive and Self-Managing Systems (SEAMS) Keynote Talk 21-22/5/2006

John Strassner Thoughts on the Role of Autonomic Computing for Cognitive Networks CrownCOM 2006 Conference Invited Speaker 8-10/6/2006

John Strassner Autonomic Systems and Networks: Theory and Practice LAACS 2006 Conference Tutorial 18-19/7/2006

Sasitharan Balasubramaniam Autonomic Networking Research Euro-Southeast Asia fair Conference/Exhibition Invited Speaker/Exhibitor 19-23/6/2006

Sasitharan Balasubramaniam Invited Speaker Applying Biological principles towards Self-Governance in Autonomic Network Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore Invited Seminar 20/9/2006

Sasitharan Balasubramaniam Applying Biological principles towards Self-Governance in Autonomic Network Nanyang Technological University Invited Seminar Invited Speaker 21/9/2006

External Dissemination Forums and Standards Bodies

Conferences Organised by the Programme

Manweek 2006 (PDF version of CfP) Dublin 23rd-27th October 2006

This was the second time that several well known and reputed workshops in the area of management of networks and services were collocated in one place for five days to allow the strengthening of links and the creation of synergies between our communities and research topics. This was the motivation for the 2nd International Week on Management of Networks and Services (Manweek 2006) that brought together DSOM, IPOM, MMNS, AGNM, and MACE in 2006. In the new MACE workshop, the core ideas of the SFI-funded research programme in the TSSG in WIT were presented to the network management community, along with invited papers from others in the community.

The general theme of Manweek2006 - Autonomic Component and System Management - addressed one of the main challenges faced by the communications industry: the inability of service providers and network operators to adapt, in a dynamic fashion, their offered services to the changing needs of their customers. Each of these workshops, organized by their own technical program committees, supported this general theme. In the following paragraphs we highlight the specific orientation of each one.

MMNS 2006 - 9th IFIP/IEEE International Conference on Management of Multimedia and Mobile Networks and Services
MMNS 2006 is a premier conferences focussing on research and innovation in management of emerging multimedia technology and networked services. Recently the conference scope has been expanded to include management of mobile networks and services, with a focus in 2006 on autonomic management of mobile multimedia services.

DSOM 2006 - 17th IFIP/IEEE International Workshop on Distributed Systems: Operations and Management
The major theme of the DSOM 2006 workshop is the management of large scale systems. Scalability issues and their impact on the management plane are common to all such systems, and existing management approaches are largely inadequate for emerging large scale and complex systems.

IPOM 2006 - 6th IEEE International Workshop on IP Operations and Management
IPOM 2006 is the sixth in a series of events dedicated to Operations and Management in IP-based networks. Building on the success of the previous events, IPOM 2006 focuses on complexity of interoperability between networks and service providers, performance versus costs in operating the IP-based networks, and the O&M challenges in next generation networks (NGN) and related seamless service provision.

MACE 2006 - 1st IEEE International Workshop on Modelling Autonomic Communications Environments
MACE 2006 aims to promote the realization of Autonomic Communications Environments (ACEs) - service-centric environments exhibiting self-governing behavior. The workshop will provide an opportunity to discuss how advances in networking technologies, software modeling, governance models, bio-inspired algorithms, machine learning and reasoning can contribute towards realization of ACEs.

AGNM 2006 - 2nd IEEE/IFIP International Workshop on Autonomic Grid Networking and Management
The AGNM workshop offers a unique opportunity for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas and experiences on problems, challenges, solutions and potential future research and development issues in the new field of Autonomic Grid Networking and Management.

     

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