An NFV system to support service provisioning on UAV platforms: a walkthrough on implementation experience and standardization challenges

Published on:
Monday, 19th April, 2021
Presented by:
Borja Nogales, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

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Abstract/Presentation overview

In this presentation, we will first describe the design and implementation of an NFV system capable of deploying moderately complex network services over a wireless ad-hoc network of resource-constrained compute nodes. 

The design relies on container virtualization to support the execution of network functions within constrained environments, as well as on mobile ad-hoc networking to support the underlying end-to-end network communications. The system design targets aerial networks built by small-sized Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), although it is generic to be considered for other resource-constrained environments.  The presentation also covers our implementation experience from developing the NFV system. 

This implementation has been accomplished using open-source technologies, particularly ETSI Open-Source MANO and OpenStack. Moreover, we will present the details concerning the integration of this system into a distributed NFV testbed spanning three different remote sites in Spain. The goal of this testbed is to explore synergies among NFV, UAVs, and 5G vertical services, following a practical approach primarily governed by experimentation. 

To showcase the potential of this testbed to support vertical services, we present three different use cases that have been realized as part of our prior research work:  

   i) the automated deployment of an IP telephony service on a delimited geographic area, using a network of interconnected UAVs; 

   ii) the realization of a smart farming vertical service; and 

   iii) a public-safety vertical use case, which uses aerial and vehicular NFV infrastructures to monitor traffic conditions and handle emergency situations. 

Then, the presentation will cover the standardization challenges related with the future view of a decentralized MANO framework, capable of supporting the operation of cost-effective, reliable services beyond the edge of the telecommunication operator infrastructures. In this view, multiple stakeholders would collaboratively provide a wide range of heterogeneous compute-connect devices (e.g., end-user terminals, CPEs, or UAV swarms). These devices might exist and be opportunistically used, or they could otherwise be deployed on-demand by stakeholders, contributing to the availability of a potentially unlimited pool of network, computing, and storage resources beyond the network edge. 

Examples of these devices are end-user mobile terminals, CPEs, car fleets, or drone swarms. To realize this view, the design of a flexible and reliable MANO framework should address the following set of fundamental challenges:

  • Interoperation, as devices may appear and disappear, and the MANO system should be able to automatically discover and “adopt” these devices as compute nodes, establishing appropriate trust relationships. 
  • Flexibility to incorporate new MANO services. For instance, to monitor the energy consumption of the devices.
  • Robustness, to deal with the potentially limited availability of network communications. Communications between the MANO system and a device may take place through other devices, following a multi-hop approach; and these communications may be transiently unavailable (e.g., caused by device mobility or battery constraints).
  • Security of network communications. As communications between the MANO system and a device may take place through other devices using wireless technologies, security, and particularly the authentication of management communications, is a fundamental aspect needing careful attention.


Borja Nogales

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid


Borja Nogales received the bachelor's degree in Telecommunication Technologies Engineering and the master in Telematics Engineering from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in 2016 and 2018, respectively. He is currently pursuing the Ph.D. degree also in the UC3M and collaborating in different European research projects (e.g., 5G-VINNI or LABYRINTH) and national research project in Spain like TRUE-5G. His research interests include networks functions virtualization (NFV), 5G networking and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

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