5G-ESSENCE targets innovations around the following elements in 5G:

Software Defined mobile networking: In 5G ESSENCE, the cSD-RAN controller will be responsible of RRM functions (like mobility control, load balancing, interference management, etc.) and MAC functions, such as joint-scheduling. For that reason, the controller will be supported by a cRRM module, plus a centralised MAC layer supporting multi-RAT. The controller will be capable of managing a heterogeneous network indicating where the resources are allocated over time, frequency and per small cell. The cSD-RAN controller will support seamless handovers between small cells and also, it will be capable to optimise the network configuration.

Network-embedded Cloud & NFV Orchestration: In 5G ESSENCE, the use of small cells with a network embedded cloud has the potential to facilitate a new breed of mobile services. The embedded Edge DC will help to reduce the cost of high bandwidth backhaul over long distances to centralised data centres, avoiding the lack of latency guarantees. In this paradigm, resources can also be treated elastically and on demand, while service providers will be able to offer cloud services based on a powerful two-tier data centre and with a large geographical footprint. Moreover, the implemented platform will support a converged cloud-radio environment, orchestrating diverse types of lightweight virtual resources, e.g., VMs, Containers, Unikernels, etc., enabling efficient placement and live migration. Further, as no available solution has adopted a distributed management approach to date, an evolved two-tier cloud orchestrator that provides a hierarchical management approach will be implemented.

5G Network slicing for verticals: 5G ESSENCE will provide an holistic E2E infrastructure that will include all radio aspects of the network, and at the same time it will offer edge processing power on-demand and per-tenant. In this approach, network abstraction and virtualisation will serve as key enabling technologies for delivering consistent network isolation fitting in the two-tier cloud concept in terms of scalability and reliability. Thus, 5G actors will be able to operate virtual networks on top of the physical infrastructures, with virtual resource isolation and virtual network performance guaranties, enabling the delivery of the network-as-a-service and providing the flexibility needed to provision network resources. Also, they will be allowed to tailor network slices as required for the particular use cases of the targeted vertical industries.

Lightweight VMs/containers for system responsiveness: 5G ESSENCE will hence investigate containers, but with a strong focus on virtual machines to solve the above challenges. To increase the performance of virtual machines, both the VMs themselves and the virtual machine manager (hypervisor) will be investigated. This includes work into minimising the operating systems running as virtual machines, making them as lightweight as possible. If possible, unikernels shall be considered, that is, minimalistic VMs that merge an application and a minimalistic OS into one monolithic block, abolishing the computationally expensive split between the two. Furthermore, techniques to increase the performance of the hypervisor itself, with special focus on virtualisation on single-board computers, will be investigated and realised. Finally, especially in network-heavy scenarios as in 5G ESSENCE, the virtualisation overhead of network communications is considerable, especially in the case of VNF chaining, where each step in the chain incurs a latency penalty. Within the scope of 5G ESSENCE, acceleration techniques for high-performance virtual networking and especially virtual switching between VMs will be investigated, realised, and tested for their efficiency.

5G-PPP Phase-1 relevant activities and available platforms: The knowledge obtained during the design and development of those components by partners participating in Phase-1, will be brought and pushed forward to accomplish the vertical use cases in 5G ESSENCE. Additionally, considering that software solutions from Phase-1 were conceived as open source, the possibility of building new modules, adapting and/or extending working functionalities from that software will be considered as a way to speed up the development work and accomplish even more mature solutions for the real-life scenarios.