Research in CREATE-NET
The research activities of CREATE-NET are centered on the paradigm of the "Digital Infrastructure of the Future". The recent explosion and increased adoption of generalised virtualisation technologies in all contexts of processing, storage and networking has triggered a dramatic change at infrastructural level: everything becomes software-defined and programmable, providing an unprecedented power to users and applications to adjust/tune the behavior of the infrastructure according to the user needs and application-specific requirements.
The "physical" Internet is becoming a "tool" to sense the world (and act accordingly), to provide ubiquitous connectivity to anyone/anything via highly-flexible mobile networks and finally interconnect all those billions of objects (things/persons/cars/...) to huge Data-Centers via extremely high-speed transport networks.
In other words Internet is becoming a big cloud facility where networking, sensing, processing and storage could be modulated with an extremely high degree of flexibility to properly support any kind of applications, anywhere and at any time.
In this context, the most promising development prospects can be grouped into three specific domains that reflect the latest trends in the industry:
- the "softwarization" of ICT infrastructure: in recent years, the focus of most research activities in the telecommunications sector has shifted from the development of high performance technologies towards the introduction of infrastructure programmability according to end users’ needs. Virtualization technologies, initially developed in the context of server farms with the objective of resource consolidation and efficiency, have affected other areas such as wireless and wired networks, sensor networks, etc. By properly abstracting the infrastructure, the owner can expose different "virtual views" to different customers, but also allow them to program its behavior safely, ensuring their isolation from other instances hosted simultaneously on the physical infrastructure. This framework enables a lot of innovative scenarios, while reducing CAPEX/OPEX and provide new profit margins especially in the telco sector, struggling since the last ten/fifteen years.
- cloudification of ICT resources and services: the availability of data centers that can handle huge amounts of data through a virtually unlimited storage and processing capacity has changed the paradigm of service delivery via the Internet. Cloud computing technologies allow the use of increasingly advanced services through terminals of any kind (whether they are laptops, computers, tablets, smartphones) in addition to enabling a new science, the analysis of the data (Big Data) through which further new services can be offered to enterprises, public administration and citizens. A recent trend is to "bring" in the cloud also a whole range of complementary functions to the traditional network infrastructure, be it transport networks or wireless networks or even sensor networks for IoT (Internet of Things) purposes. This integration between networks and cloud makes ICT infrastructure not only data-centric but also datacenter-centric, forcing new optimization needs in order to enable richer and more immersive services to end users.
- application-centricity: the two main trends described above are quickly changing the ICT infrastructures in order to make them dynamically adaptable based on the specific requirements of the application that should be supported, whether it is a communication or a storage/processing need. E.g. the latency requirements for 4K video conferencing are very different from those required in a telemetry application related to environmental monitoring. Yet for both of these applications, the infrastructure must be able to adapt dynamically in order to respond to specific requirements they request. Moreover, the ubiquitous availability of smartphones and smart devices with a variety of sensors facilitates the automatic detection of the activities performed by a human being within the context in which a person lives, works, rests, etc. Inferring user behavior therefore becomes critical in many application scenarios: e.g. in the field of health, it will allow the monitoring of a patient treatment; similarly in the field of sustainable mobility, it can promote virtuous behavior that reduce the level of produced CO2.