IEEE Communications Magazine, Vol.56, N°8, August 2018
Ultra-dense networks (UDNs) are a natural deployment evolution for handling the tremendous traffic increase related to the emerging 5G services, especially in urban environments. However, the associated infrastructure cost may become prohibitive. The evolving paradigm of network slicing can tackle such a challenge while optimizing the network resource usage, enabling multi-tenancy and facilitating resource sharing and efficient service-oriented communications. Indeed, network slicing in UDN deployments can offer the desired degree of customization in not only vanilla radio access network (RAN) designs, but also in the case of disaggregated multi-service RANs. In this article, we devise a novel multi-service RAN environment, RAN runtime, capable of supporting slice orchestration procedures and enabling flexible customization of slices as per tenant needs. Each network slice can exploit a number of services, which can be either dedicated or shared between multiple slices over a common RAN. The novel architecture we present concentrates on the orchestration and management systems. It interacts with the RAN modules, through the RAN runtime, via a number of new interfaces enabling a customized dedicated orchestration logic for each slice. We present results for a disaggregated UDN deployment where the RAN runtime is used to support slice-based multi-service chain creation and chain placement, with an auto-scaling mechanism to increase the performance.
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