5G-MEDIA – Programmable edge-to-cloud virtualization fabric for the 5G Media industry

By 25 March, 2020News

Goals of the project

Media-based applications are amongst the most demanding services in terms of bandwidth and latency to enable high audio-visual quality and interactivity. The 5G PPP 5G-MEDIA Phase 2 project has worked in the design and implementation of a platform that supports the media services lifecycle management providing a holistic solution encompassing mechanisms and tools for the development, testing and continuously optimized deployment of media services. The main innovations of the proposed platform lie in the following parts: i) the offering of a complete Service Development Kit, encompassing tools for the media service validation and emulation as well as for the testing of optimization algorithms in emulation environment and the continuous corrective sizing of resources required after the media service deployment; ii) the development of two auxiliary services, the 5G-MEDIA Service Catalogue and the AAA mechanisms facilitating the media service management as well as accounting and billing mechanisms; iii) the introduction of a multi-hierarchical cognitive network optimizer catering for the continuous optimization of media services during and after service deployment and iv) the enablement of traditional as well as serverless orchestration allowing event-driven orchestration of services at run time. The platform has been validated against three media use cases: immersive Virtual Reality 3D gaming application, remote production of broadcast content incorporating user generated contents, and dynamically adaptive CDNs for the intelligent distribution of Ultra-High Definition (UHD) content.

Major achievements and innovation

The final outcomes of the project have been an implementation of the integrated 5G-MEDIA platform that have been extensively tested against different use cases in the media vertical. In Figure 1 the final refined architecture of the 5G-MEDIA platform is shown. Following the initial design,the 5G-MEDIA technical solution consists of two main components the 5G-MEDIA Service Development Kit (SDK) and the 5G-MEDIA Service Virtualization Platform (SVP) that have been fine-tuned during the last project year to deliver a complete integrated technical solution for media service management across the service lifecycle.

The 5G-MEDIA SDK can be considered as a sandbox where the service developers can develop, emulate and test their NFV-based services, integrating both development and operational aspects together. In particular, the SDK consists of the validator tool that analyses the descriptor and validates its compatibility against TOSCA and/or OSM schemas. The validator which was previously offered as a CLI is presented in 5G-MEDIA as a user-friendly Web UI where developers can validate their descriptors against two schemas. Using the 5G MEDIA Service Catalogue NBI, the validated descriptors can also be onboarded to the private catalogue. On top of these basic operations, 5G-MEDIA SDK Emulator relies on background components (i.e., vim-emu and FaaS-vim) to allow execution of real network functions packaged as Docker containers in emulated network topologies running locally on the developer’s machine. One step further, the benchmarking service supports load-testing under several resource constraints on VNFs that are deployed on the emulation environment. Overall, the goal of the emulation is to validate the functional properties of VNFs and NSs (e.g., finding bugs, detecting congestions or investigating issues in their applications). Provided that the performance metrics of the developed service is satisfying in the development environment, the developer can onboard their services to public catalogue of the platform which automatically onboards the services in the production OSM where the services can be instantiated. The 5G-MEDIA SDK also offers support for the life-cycle management of the services deployed in the SVP with tools such as i) the CNO Training tool facilitating developer in configuring a training model based on reinforcement learning and testing its training performance and ii) the SVP Runtime Advisor, which gives feedback to the developer on how their services are working in the operational environment. This is necessary to compensate for differences between the offline emulation environment and the actual operational environment conditions and workloads. The SDK therefore constitutes a toolkit supporting continuous corrective service development throughout the service lifecycle.

The Service Virtualization Platform consists of four main components. It has two central components: the 5G-MEDIA Service MAPE and the 5G-MEDIA service orchestrator, which are responsible for the intelligent orchestration of media services over the heterogeneous NFVIs. In addition, it has two auxiliary services: the 5G Apps and Services Catalogue (Public Catalogue) and the 5G-MEDIA AAA services, which support horizontal services of the platform such as VNF onboarding to public catalogue, user authentication and authorization services. In this line, the 5G Apps and Services Catalogue is a structured repository of heterogeneous media applications, functions and service descriptors based on a generic and unified standard format, such as VNF Descriptor (VNFD) and NS Descriptor (NSD) data models. The catalogue offers NFV MANO and domain-specific translation functions from ETSI NFV standard to specific or proprietary descriptors and packages format. In particular, in the context of 5G-MEDIA the 5G Apps and Services Catalogue provides an automated translation and mapping from the ETSI NFV standard TOSCA based VNF Descriptor and NS Descriptors (used to model and describe the 5G-MEDIA media services) to the ETSI OSM specific data models, being OSM the reference NFV MANO tool in the project. One step further, the main role of the AAA portal is the provisioning of a centralised and simplified view to administrators of resource utilisation and the associated costs for services running on the platform. It has been designed to allow future extensibility through a plug-in architecture.

In the core SVP services, the 5G-MEDIA service MAPE relies on monitoring mechanisms to retrieve static data from NFVIs, such as the resource model (i.e., available computing and network resources) and dynamic data relevant to the execution of the services (such as application data). Besides the collection of resource consumption data, the 5G-MEDIA project has defined application-specific metrics, relevant to media use cases for quantifying the Quality of Experience (QoE). In order to measure the performance of the service in terms of perceived quality, the platform deploys a QoE probe as a VNF close to the end user, which provides a Mean Opinion Score (MOS) through a statistical model fed by Non-Referenced (NR) video metrics. On top of the monitoring services, the 5G-MEDIA Service MAPE provides a two-level optimization approach that can be generalized to different hierarchical models, depending on the distribution of resources and the control layer scheme. The two-level optimization approach of 5G-MEDIA platform ensures that both local and global optimal solutions are considered. Finally, the 5G-MEDIA Service Orchestration encompasses traditional VNF orchestration as well as serverless FaaS VNF orchestration. To achieve this goal, the concept of serverless VIM was extended to serverless Virtual Network Function Manager (VNFM), and serverless Service Orchestration – resulting in a full serverless management and orchestration stack in the Service Virtualization Platform. This stack is interoperable with OSM (the MANO framework used in the 5G-MEDIA project) and complements its functionality allowing to unleash the full potential of a serverless computing paradigm for media applications.

Figure 1: 5G-MEDIA Final Architecture

The 5G-MEDIA approach has been tested in three different media-related use cases validating the capabilities of the platform to flexibly develop, deploy and optimize media service applications.

Use case 1 – Immersive media and Virtual Reality

Figure 2: Use Case 1 Live Demonstration in EuCNC 2019

This use case demonstrates a real-time interactive immersive media application in which the two players are volumetrically reconstructed and interact with each other in a common virtual gaming environment through their digitized virtual representations (i.e. textured 3D shapes). The application allows for the live spectating of each gaming session by remote third party users. The role of the 5G-MEDIA platform in this use case lies in the flexible real-time adaptive streaming service, through the use of serverless orchestration that enables the on-demand deployment of transcoding services upon the start of a game session or for the delivery of replay clips to spectators. This use case has tested the efficacy of the CNO considering two different scenarios: i) the optimized selection of transcoding profile to ensure QoE satisfaction; ii) the optimization of the cost efficiency of each session in order to eventually maximize profits, while also retaining the serviced QoE levels relying on the interactions between O-CNO and SS-CNO. The latter approach demonstrated the adoption of a finer-grained service cost analysis opening up new opportunities for application centric optimization.

As part of the project dissemination and communication activities, Use Case 1 “Immersive applications and Virtual Reality” was demonstrated live at the 5G-MEDIA booth during EuCNC 2019 and  FITCE 2019 events, and it was presented during the IEEE 5G and IoT Thessaloniki Summit 2018, Training School on Emerging Technologies for 5G and Internet of Things.

Use case 2 – Smart Production and User-generated Content

Figure 3: Use Case 2 Live Demo in Madrid

This use case enables two media production scenarios. Scenario 1) is a remote production of an event without the need for dedicated infrastructure to be specifically deployed at the event venue. Scenario 2) of this use case considers the streaming of live events via smartphones or tablets by spectators or journalists for enhancing the program stream of an event. The role of the 5G-MEDIA Platform in this use case is to ensure that the media processing functions are deployed efficiently in the cloud infrastructure enabling low latency and high throughput as required by live streaming and media processing. This is achieved by using the 5G-MEDIA Service MAPE to optimize bitrate/compression levels of media streams and ensure QoE for the realization of the remote production scenario. In addition, this use case demonstrates the use of FaaS orchestration by automatically deploying media services at the start of a mobile contribution session. Serverless VNFs implementing cognitive services (captions production and face recognition) for mobile contribution as well as video stream splitter and sink are being deployed on demand in the same edge where and when they are needed.

Use Case 2 Remote and Smart Media Production Incorporating User-generated Content has been presented at the 5G-MEDIA booth during EuCNC2019, at the Jornada de la RAI: “5G en el sector audiovisual”, at the “5G in RTVE” series of events (held in Valencia, Salamanca and Malaga) and it was demonstrated live during the UC2 Live Event held in Madrid on December 3rd 2019.

5G-MEDIA has proved that the concept of a remote production with low latency between venue and production ends is possible. The breakthrough of this use case was to separate the capture of audio-visual content on a venue from the TV production. The design and development was steered by the idea of minimum latency in the signal transmission between different locations so that the TV producer and the camera operator do not perceive a loss of real time feeling to avoid a lack of agility on real time orders/decisions. The goals were met successfully and the first impressions of the TV producers and camera operators were that the experience was identical to a studio production or O.B. production. The latency reached a maximum of 10 frames which from a perceptual point of view can be considered in the range of real time reactions. This design can easily reach a theoretical latency of 3 frames in the near future with some minor enhancements.

Use case 3 – Ultra High Definition over Content Delivery Network

Figure 4: UC3 Demo in MWC 2019

The focus of the “Ultra High Definition over Content Delivery Network” scenario is enabling Media Service Providers (MSPs) to build flexible and adaptable media distribution service chains, made up of virtualized functions, and deliver UHD media contents while users are moving in a geographically distributed 5G network. In this perspective, the UHD over Content Delivery Network (CDN) scenario shows the integration and use of the 5G-MEDIA components for the optimization of the media service development and deployment. The 5G-MEDIA SDK and the 5G Apps and Services Catalogue are used for the design, dimensioning, creation and onboarding of the media service components, such as the VNFs building the vCDN service, both in the form of regular VM-based and serverless media functions. The 5G-MEDIA SVP is used for the instantiation and application configuration of UHD media delivery services as NFV Network Services. Here, the coordinated configuration of the media caches and load balancing functions is applied by the 5G-MEDIA SVP to re-direct users to proper media content delivering caches (e.g. based on load). Moreover, the 5G-MEDIA MAPE module monitors the running media content delivery services, predicts by means of specific online ML algorithms in the SS-CNO any performance degradation (at both network and media service level) and reacts upon them to automatically adapt and optimize the media service by dynamically scaling the media caches hierarchy (with the option of creating either regular VM-based or serverless virtualized caches) and properly reconfiguring the load balancing function for maintaining UHD streams user perceived quality in case of network congestion.

Use Case 3 Dynamic and Flexible UHD Content Distribution over 5G CDNs has been presented at the 5G PPP booth during the ICT2018 event, at the 5G-MEDIA booth during EuCNC2019 and at the 5G Day (8th OSM Hackfest): “From Data-centers to the Edge with OSM”, and it was demonstrate live at the 5G IA booth during the MWC2019 and at the Tata Elxsi booth during the IBC2019 event.

Cross-cutting scenarios – Assessing the platform in multi-tenant environments: To validate the efficacy of the 5G‑MEDIA platform, the project has considered two cross-cutting scenarios mixing more than one sessions of the same use case or different use cases running on the same infrastructure. In particular, to showcase the behavior of 5G-MEDIA Service MAPE in a multi-tenant environment, the use of O-CNO and SS-CNO was tested in the presence of multiple sessions of the same use case (e.g., parallel remote production sessions sharing the same edge and the same infrastructure) or different use cases (e.g., co-existence of mobile contribution use case and Tele-immersive use case) competing for limited resources such as GPUs in the same NFVI. These test scenarios show the applicability of the proposed approach and in particular of the CNO architecture in multi-tenant environments.

Cross-cutting scenarios have been tested in NFVIs provided by the project and their execution has been recorded to produce additional dissemination material for the platform assessment.