Packet Optical Networks and Services (PONS)


We address packet optical communications and networking technologies, edge and cloud computing infrastructure for virtual functions and applications, and network and service management to provide high-speed, cost-effective, energy-efficient, secured, and reliable connectivity, network and slice services for multi-tenancy. It spans from the access to the metro and long-haul network segments, as well as inter and intra data center communication.

To address sustainable high-capacity scaling and support network dynamicity, the adoption of spectrally and spatially multiplexed transmission systems with suitable photonic technologies and adaptive transceivers becomes crucial. Moreover, the emergence of quantum technologies and the prospect of quantum computing (which represents a threat for future network security) require to consider reliable security mechanisms and appropriate solutions to be adopted in the network infrastructure.

Packet and optical technologies will be further integrated to provide a converged transport network with a more granular and large-scale management of flows with dedicated QoS in support of Mobile (B5G/6G), IoT/V2X, and fixed (enterprise, residential) services. Finally, the need for extending the cloud towards the network edge will require the deployment of edge computing integrated with the packet optical networks, providing an edge cloud continuum of network resources.

Network and service management will face radical architectural transformations to provide autonomous, reliable, secured, and trustworthy services. At the network level, software defined network control and telemetry will enable full programmability and real-time streaming for autonomous connectivity and transport slice management. At the service level, network function virtualization service orchestration with intent-based policies and software defined security will deploy smart and secured virtual network services and network slices.

Research lines

We focus on the research and innovation in photonic technologies and optical communication networks, including quantum communications, to address a sustainable capacity scaling and the need of future optical networks in terms of high-performance, flexibility, agility, cost/power efficiency and security requirements, promoting an optimal resource usage and a smooth integration in the network infrastructure.

In particular, we investigate programmable multi-dimensional transmission systems, optical performance monitoring techniques/subsystems, optical white-boxes, and cost/energy-efficient adaptive high-capacity photonic transceivers. To address security aspects and face the quantum era, we also cover topics related to optical quantum communications with special focus on quantum key distribution (QKD).

Research on the evolution of packet/optical access, aggregation, metropolitan, and core networks, as well as inter/intra-data center architectures and networking, with focus on control, orchestration, and telemetry aspects, towards convergent, multi-domain/layer closed-loop, zero-touch autonomous networks. The research line includes aspects related to traffic engineering and network planning, encompassing analytical methods and algorithms and experimental research, driven by advances in programmable devices, transmission and switching technologies and in support of B5G/6G emerging services and Machine Learning applications for network operation.

The line covers topics from low level aspects related to device and pipeline programmability to high level networking such as intent-based, zero-touch and autonomous networking, including new aspects such as transport network slicing and multi-tenancy.

We focus on research of zero-touch life-cycle management of secured network services on top of disaggregated packet/optical networks. We consider the integration of Multi-access and distributed edge/cloud resources, as well as the integration of current NFV and MEC architectures with transport network slices. Our final goal is to provide an edge-cloud continuum of network and computation resources.

Moreover, we address autonomous End-to-End zero-touch management of network services to support mobile, IoT, and V2X communications, and Digital Twin Networks. Finally, security mechanisms for network service operations are explored, including the definition of Security SLA, ML-based security services, as well as the usage of Permissioned Distributed Ledgers, including Blockchain Technologies.

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