Ten Israeli telecoms companies along with a like number of Israeli universities and research institutions have formed the Neptune (Network Programming) consortium, backed by the Israeli Ministry of Economy. The consortium’s goal is to develop efficient methods to automate and manage service provider networks, irrespective of their underlying network technologies – or, in the words of the consortium, to configure networks "AutoMagically."
The ability to program and automate networks AutoMagically will increase the efficiency and flexibility of service provider networks, thereby simplifying deployment and operation and reducing dramatically associated costs, the partners assert.
The program has financial support from the "Magnet Program" of the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Israel Ministry of Economy. Under this model, the industrial partners enjoy a grant amounting to 66% of approved R&D costs. The academic partners receive a grant amounting to 80% of said costs, while the remaining 20% is paid by the consortium companies.
The founding members include ECI Telecom, RAD Data Comunications, Gilat Satellite Networks, Elbit Systems, Ceragon Networks, BATM Telecom, ADVA Optical Networking Israel, Mellanox Technologies, Mobilicom, and Bezeq International. Academic and research organisation members are the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Ben-Gurion University, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, Tel-Aviv University, University of Haifa, Tel-Aviv Jaffa Academic College, Holon Technological Institute, the Lev Academic Center in Jerusalem, and IDC Herzliya.
Ever-growing demand for bandwidth and the dynamic introduction of new services are forcing service providers to adopt more efficient, automated, and service-aware networks. This necessitates a totally new network architecture, according to the consortium, to enable simplified network provisioning, fast creation of new services, and real time network optimization. And, of course, this must be achieved while reducing both capex and opex.
R&D efforts worldwide are already focusing on two complementary technologies: software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). The goal of the Neptune consortium is to exploit SDN and NFV technologies to enable carrier-grade automated network architectures. The consortium will also explore how heterogeneous networks – combining terrestrial and satellite technologies, for example – can be integrated into a single orchestrated network.
"By applying sophisticated multilayer optimization algorithms combined with new virtualized network functions, we will enable what we call the AutoMagically configured network – a new level of network programmability solutions, allowing the operator to shift from 'network planning' to 'network programming,'" said Gali Malkiel ,chairman of the Neptune Consortium and head of ECI Telecom’s SW & SDN Solutions business line. "By exploiting the expertise in and synergies between Israeli industry and academia, the Neptune consortium will employ a unique blend of skills, guaranteeing the success of the project and a better future for open service provider networks."
The Neptune consortium has already started its work program, which will run for three years. Topics currently being researched under the program include:
- Automatic and dynamic network resource allocation
- Multilayer and cross-layer network resource optimization
- Real-time congestion control and resiliency mechanisms
- Joint SDN and NFV optimized orchestration
- Fast setup of complex services including network path computation and virtual function placement
- Coexistence and migration from conventional networks to new SDN/NFV empowered networks.
The member organizations also expect to work closely with the relevant global standards development organizations as well as open-source communities.
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