TeraFlow project aims to foster a new generation of SDN controllers

via Flickr © joepage1  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Flickr © joepage1 (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • Getting flow control under control at the edge is the main strand of this 30 month EU funded project
  • Will integrate current NFV and MEC frameworks and revolutionary features for flow management at the service layer
  • And tackle optical/microwave network equipment integration at the infrastructure layer

This is likely one to watch. It’s an EU-funded project called TeraFlow which aims to develop a novel and secure cloud-native SDN controller. And it brings with it yet another three letter acronym/handle  which you’ll have to stow away and use appropriately to avoid looking stupid in meetings, if you haven’t already encountered it. 

The TeraFlow project, is being funded  by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme. It officially started work on January 1st as part of the 5GPPP Phase 3 projects which are for the most part working on Smart Connectivity ‘beyond 5G’, hence ‘B5G’. 

The technologies developed during the 30-month project are expected to mainly target telecom operators, edge and hyper-scale cloud providers. And the key issue at this set of intersections is complexity and finding ways to tame it from a network and flow management point of view. 

TeraFlow’s mission is to “build a new type of secure cloud-native SDN controller that will drastically transform Beyond 5G (B5G) networks by integrating current NFV and MEC frameworks and revolutionary features for flow management at the service layer, and optical/microwave network equipment integration at the infrastructure layer.” On top of all that the project will apply security to the controller by using Machine Learning and “forensic evidence”  for multi-tenancy based on Distributed Ledgers.

The project leaders point out that with exponential increases in the size of networks and the volume of data they carry there is a need for massive flow management combined with automation - the ability of mere humans to stay on top of things at the network’s edges will be highly challenging. They claim that current SDN controllers have limitations in terms of flow aggregation and software architecture, which have helped slow the adoption of basic SDN deployments by network operators.

So TeraFlow proposes an architecture for a cloud-native SDN controller encompassing autonomous networks and compute integration, trusted multi-tenancy, and ML-based cybersecurity.

Consequently, TeraFlow architecture is based on container-based services deployed as microservices and managed on elastic infrastructures through agile DevOps process and continuous delivery workflows. It aims to support:

  • Self-healing properties due to the constant monitoring of microservices and their restart in case of failure

  • Auto-scaling, allowing the monitoring of microservices’ resource consumption and scaling horizontally in case of overload

  • Load balancing for replicated microservices

  • Automated rollbacks allowing a declarative network status description for additional network programmability benefiting network operators

The partners in  TeraFlow are Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo (Spain), INFINERA (Finland), SIAE Microelettronica (Italy), NEC Laboratories (Germany), Atos (Spain), Telenor (Norway), Chalmers University (Sweden), Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Spain), Volta Networks (Spain), Norwegian University of Science and Technology - NTNU (Norway), UBITECH (Greece), Peer Stritzinger (Germany) and Old Dog Consulting (UK).

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