Although the radio access network (RAN) part of mobile networks offers a significant opportunity for benefiting from the use of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) ideas, this opportunity is largely untapped due to the lack of a software-defined RAN (SD-RAN) platform. We fill this void with FlexRAN, a flexible and programmable SD-RAN platform that separates the RAN control and data planes through a new, custom-tailored southbound API. Aided by virtualized control functions and control delegation features, FlexRAN provides a flexible control plane designed with support for real-time RAN control applications, flexibility to realize various degrees of coordination among RAN infrastructure entities, and programmability to adapt control over time and easier evolution to the future following SDN/NFV principles. In this talk, a brief introduction on the basic principles and benefits characterizing SDN will be presented, followed by a discussion on the challenges that FlexRAN aims to solve, presenting its overall architecture and the design choices behind its implementation. Recent performance results indicating the feasibility of using FlexRAN under the stringent time constraints posed by the RAN will be presented. To demonstrate the effectiveness of FlexRAN as an SD-RAN platform and highlight its applicability for a diverse set of use cases, a number of network services deployed over FlexRAN will be discussed and concrete results will be presented for the use case of mobile edge computing.
Xenofon Foukas is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Edinburgh and a research associate in the Institute of Informatics & Telecommunications of NCSR “Demokritos”. He received his B.Sc. degree in computer science from the Athens University of Business and Economics (AUEB) in 2012 and his M.Sc. degree in “Advanced Computing” from the Department of Computing at Imperial College London in 2013. His research interests are in the areas of mobile/wireless networking and distributed systems. The focus of his current work is on next-generation mobile networks and software-defined mobile networking. He has been a Fellow of “Greenet”, a Marie Curie initial training network on green wireless networks, and is currently a member of the PACER experimentation project that is part of the European FP7 FLEX project on LTE testbeds for open experimentation.