Co-hosted at The 9th IEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization (IEEE NetSoft 2023) will be held on June 19, 2023, in Madrid, Spain. IEEE NetSoft has been created as a flagship conference aiming at addressing "Softwarization" of networks and systemic trends concerning the convergence of Cloud Computing, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), and Network Function Virtualization (NFV).
Since its conception in 2018, S4SI has aimed at providing a focused international forum for researchers and practitioners from academia, industry, network operators, and service providers to discuss and address the advances and the challenges in the multi-faceted field of Slicing plus its emerging scenarios whereby systems, services, and workflows used in both computing and communications domains are converging and can benefit from the new techniques and strategies of infrastructure softwarization. This is expected to be even more evident and necessary in the transition towards 6G, which is now driving the research efforts in the telecommunication arena.
The current convergence trend between computing and networking ecosystems puts software into an unprecedented and dominant role in operational communication environments. Computing, storage, and connectivity services along with application instances are foreseen to be dynamically deployed in the form of slices of virtualized assets within a so-called Software-Defined Infrastructure (SDI) leveraging general-purpose processing and communication hardware, altogether being flexibly managed and made available under "as-a-Service" paradigms in the spirit of Cloud Computing. This concept is summarized in the idea of Slicing, which has become a central piece in the evolution of telecom networks, as we witnessed in the past five editions of S4SI, as well as in other scientific and industrial venues.
Furthermore, there is an increasing need for the realization of a compute continuum from IoT-to-Edge-to-Cloud-to-Network. In this respect, network slicing will be at the forefront in order to support the deployment and operation of new services and applications across IoT devices and edge/core clouds. This entails significant challenges for the unified management and orchestration of resources across the network edge and cloud infrastructures, potentially owned and managed by different operators. The potential intertwining of network slicing mechanisms with ad-hoc clouds and digital twinning raises further research questions, which will be particularly interesting to the workshop.
The S4SI workshop addresses beyond the state-of-the-art approach for both the advances and challenges related to Slicing in Softwarized Infrastructures, aiming for a faster and improved deployment of services beyond 5G environments en route to 6G (i.e., including Enablers for 6G Service Based Architecture, 6G Digital Twinning, 6G Energy Enablers and Energy-aware networking, 6G Network and Service Operation, 6G Network and Service resources' usage and optimization, 6G Orchestration and Management, 6G Slicing KPIs guarantees, Metaverse 6G Enablers). The advances and challenges are expected to be multiple, and there are clearly many open questions that need to be addressed, including:
- At what level of abstraction should slicing be introduced, i.e., whether it is better to implement slicing mechanisms into existing frameworks, orchestrators, and infrastructure managers via adapting their components, or it is more convenient implementing Slicing in a way that it will be transparent to them.
- What abstraction models, programming models, APIs and mechanisms would be required in order to implement Slicing in any of the above scenarios, and what the tradeoff between complexity, scalability and performance would be.
- How do the existing resource technologies of computing, storage and network can seamlessly be managed, orchestrated and controlled as part of end-to-end slices.
- How end-to-end slices can automatically be defined and allocated on-demand – as a service – to host network services with similar requirements in terms of SLA and QoS.
- What APIs, algorithms, and orchestration mechanisms are required for secure and optimized communication between co-located slices in order to enable B2B synergies.
- How to integrate novel approaches that could facilitate the lifecycle management of slices on SDI, such as intent-based mechanisms, smart operations based on Artificial Intelligence, etc.
- How to exploit advanced technologies at both control and data planes for the realization of slices.
- What are the lessons learned from early slicing capabilities deployed for 5G systems, and what are the operational gaps yet open.
The proposed workshop S4SI addresses the multiple open questions around the realization of end-to-end sliced softwarized infrastructures and the fundamental challenges that will facilitate the envisioned intelligent orchestration and programmability of SDIs, enabling faster deployment and efficient operation of integrated services across different resource domains. Such advances in future ecosystems, like beyond 5G and 6G, are expected to enable the dynamic establishment of generalized virtual function chains according to service requirements.
Big Data Analytics is being applied to harness the immense stream of operational data from the Sliced infrastructure to perform analytics processing to improve slices' reliability, configuration, orchestration, performance, and security management. To this end, further research is needed to effectively realize the integration of Slicing with intelligent mechanisms based on data collected from the SDI.
Intending to collect different views and perspectives, besides the traditional long or short papers, the workshop intends to be an opportunity for Industry high impact pitches, testbed papers, position papers, experience reports, as well as lightning talks, industry and/or open source pitches targeting short presentations.