Concepts and approach


The basic concept behind SoftFIRE is the construction of a federated infrastructure comprising experimental networks and programmable resources designed according to NFV/SDN principles and made available by partners. The focus is on the orchestration of resources according to the needs of different applications.

As a first step, the project is creating a virtualization and programmable layer that allows to execute virtual images. During the course of the project,Third Parties and some Project Partners can enrich the set of initial components with specific services and functions that make it easier to develop applications in specific domains.

Virtual resources can ctivated, controlled and moved according to the needs of applications and services. Virtualized and governing resources will offer APIs to services and applications in order to provide an easy but granular control. The project has identified a uniform set of interfaces among the different technological island for governing virtualized interfaces, however some resources could have very specialized APIs that would not be normalized in order to offer specific functionalities to the upper layer. Figure 1 sketches out the interfaces from a programmer perspective.

Programming Interfaces
Figure 1

The set of uniform interfaces is  used by Third parties in order to develop solutions on the SoftFIRE testbed.

SoftFIRE aims also at the control of resources. Figure 1 depicts a logical representation of the SoftFIRE testbed from a control perspective.  Resources and networks are controllable by means of APIs and virtualized objects (these virtualized objects do represent functions and capabilities needed by services and applications in order to optimize the usage of the network).


Initial SoftFIRE view
Figure 2

A goal of SoftFIRE is to create an interoperable, programmable and manageable software infrastructure capable of allowing the control over resources or chunks of networks. These resources are distributed in different sites. This capability is represented in Figure 2 as the Southbound API, i.e., a set of interfaces that allows exerting the control on resources and network equipment. These resources have data interfaces that allow the flows of data between different domains and administrative islands, and control/management interfaces for governing the resources or aggregate them.
In the long term these  interfaces could evolve towards the definition of a Software Development Kit (out of the current goals of the SoftFIRE Project).

The Westbound and Eastbound APIs of Figure 2  support the interaction with external nodes. In particular the Westbound API will support interactions with edge nodes (namely terminals, access points and devices typically pertaining to the User Domain), while the Eastbound API will support interactions with nodes and devices under the control of service providers or enterprises. In this way it is possible to integrate in the SoftFIRE testbed different infrastructures and to create services that need  features and capabilities offered by different administrative domains.

The service layer of Figure 2 is a set of functions and objects and related interfaces that provide reusable services. They are to be used to create new applications. Services and applications that need to have functions that span over edge, core and enterprise domains will be able to access these functionalities by means of APIs. The project, by means of Open Calls  will aim at building compelling use cases in order to prove the viability of the infrastructure, to check the validity of the exposed functionalities and to functionally extend the set of basic functions needed to support an open, rich and composite service and application ecosystem.

In addition, SoftFIRE is also working in providing mechanisms and tools useful to create a sort of security framework for supporting NFV/SDN developments.