Next Generation Converged Digital infrastructure (NG-CDI)

Lead Research Organisation: Lancaster University
Department Name: Computing & Communications

Abstract

This programme will forge the research required to underpin the next generation converged digital infrastructure for BT, creating a radically new technology architecture for autonomous operation of future networks and services.

Digital infrastructure networks of the future will be highly reliable and resilient to disruptions through autonomous operations and will be able to cope with increasing demands on its capacity and types of services. These networks will be equipped with programmable and virtualised network functions that can be flexibly placed at specific network locations. New and unpredicted services will be capable of being supported without the need to make costly changes to the infrastructure at the physical level. The physical nodes of the infrastructure network will be represented digitally by a 'digital twin' or 'software agent' which will make them "autonomic" - i.e., the capability to perceive its state and environment, understand and predict its behaviour, and react to disruptions and opportunities autonomously with an aim to enhance customer experience. The network will be able to detect and predict possible disruptions, analyse the risk to service provision, make autonomous decisions regarding the (re)deployment of functions to least risky network locations and arrange remedial actions such as repair or replacement of risk-prone nodes. This will lead to new services, improved resilience of the network, better customer experiences and greater operational efficiency ensuring that the UK remains a leading digital economy.

In order to realise this vision, the research carried out in this programme is structured around 5 challenges:
Research Challenge 1: Agile Converged Infrastructure Systems Architecture. The fundamental question addressed here is "How to build an agile digital infrastructure that is amenable to autonomous operations?" This will be achieved through developments in new technologies such as MicroNFV and SDN.

Research Challenge 2: Future Networks Operations and Services. The fundamental question addressed here is "How to ensure service reliability of the agile autonomic digital infrastructure?" This will be achieved by developing an automated service ecosystem capable of placing virtualised network functions at specific network locations.

Research Challenge 3: Autonomic Knowledge Framework. This challenge addresses the question "How to enable autonomous operational ability for the digital infrastructure?" This is tackled by a multi-agent system architecture and through creating data sources that are intelligent.

Research Challenge 4: Autonomous Diagnostics and Response. This challenge addresses the question "How can the digital infrastructure respond to disruptions autonomously?" This will be answered by developing novel automated change detection and statistical learning techniques.

Research Challenge 5: Future Organisational Dynamics. The question addressed here is "How can the organisation exploit the autonomic agile capabilities of the digital infrastructure?" This is addressed by developing decision-support algorithms for risk-based function redeployment and predictive asset management.

Planned Impact

Society: Today's society is entirely dependent on technology and the availability of "connected" services. The UK currently has one of the most advanced digital infrastructures in the world with over 95% of its citizens and businesses having access to super-fast broadband and digital infrastructure overall was used by over 41million adults daily in 2016. The ongoing economic and societal importance that the UK Government places on the nation's digital infrastructure was highlighted in the 2016 Autumn Statement as well as the National Infrastructure Commission consultation. The technologies and solutions delivered by this project will bring direct benefits to society by improving the resilience of the digital telecommunications network, enhancing service assurance and thereby customer experience, and producing the next generation converged digital infrastructure that is sufficiently agile to respond to unforeseen new ICT services.

Business Impact: Future ICT services will change ever more rapidly - and unpredictably - and a fundamental change to the economic model for infrastructure development is required. The project will produce an infrastructure which drastically reduces the time taken for new services to be launched. By enabling this agility, our project will reduce BT's operational and development costs, producing huge capital and operational cost savings, and growing value significantly.

Economic Impact: By bringing the world of cyber-physical systems to the digital infrastructure domain, the project delivers significant scientific advances in an area that is critical to the success of the UK economy. The output from this programme will have a direct impact on the rate of adoption of technologies such as NFV and 5G by telecoms operators. By providing a resilient infrastructure with the flexibility for operators to configure and offer new services, and greater agility for businesses who need digital services that adapt as they grow, these outputs will directly address one of the new government industrial challenges - Transformative Digital Technologies.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme
Amount £2,100,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description NEWTRIP: New Transport-layer Intelligence and Protocols
Amount £12,000 (GBP)
Funding ID IEC\NSFC\170090 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2020
 
Description Network 2030
Amount £1,050,000 (GBP)
Organisation Huawei Technologies 
Sector Private
Country China
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2021
 
Description • Digital Twin Demonstrator
Amount £250,000 (GBP)
Organisation Digital Built Britain 
Start  
 
Description • Digitally optimised through-life engineering services
Amount £630,000 (GBP)
Organisation Aerospace Technology Institute 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description • GIS-Based Infrastructure Management System for Optimised Response to Extreme Events on Terrestrial Transport Networks (2018-22
Amount € 295,800 (EUR)
Funding ID 769255 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Horizon 2020
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start  
 
Description • Social Networks of Gas Turbines for Collaborative Fault Prognosis
Amount £130,500 (GBP)
Organisation Siemens AG 
Department Siemens Power and Gas
Sector Private
Country Global
Start  
 
Description • Socially aware infrastructure assets
Amount £170,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 104257 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description BT 
Organisation BT Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Shared research
Collaborator Contribution Funding and joint research
Impact TBC
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Bristol 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution TBC
Collaborator Contribution TBC
Impact TBC
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Cambridge 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution TBC
Collaborator Contribution TBC
Impact TBC
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Lancaster 
Organisation Lancaster University
Department School of Computing and Communications
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution TBC
Collaborator Contribution TBC
Impact TBC
Start Year 2017
 
Description University of Surrey 
Organisation University of Surrey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution TBC
Collaborator Contribution TBC
Impact tbc
Start Year 2017
 
Description Dissemination through International Telecommunication Standardization Focus Group of Network 2030 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On October 2nd 2018, Prof. Ning Wang was invited to give a keynote talk at the first technical workshop of ITU-T Focus Group on Network 2030. The presentation focus is on network intelligence in future networks and the technical work carried out in NG-CDI was highlighted in the talk. The workshop was held at University of New York and there were around 70 people from both ICT industry and academia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/Workshops-and-Seminars/201810/Pages/default.aspx