ACM SIGCOMM 2019 - Mobile and wireless research using the POWDER platform
Tutorial Program (subject to changes)
Monday, August 19, 2019
8:30am - 10:30am Session I
- Session I
8:30am - 9:00am
The POWDER platform (lecture)
9:30am - 10:30am
End-to-end full-stack mobile network performance (hands-on)
10:30am - 11:00am Coffee Break
- Coffee Break
11:00am - 12:40pm Session II
- Session II
11:00am - 11:30am
Open source stacks for mobile and wireless research (lecture)
11:30am - 12:30pm
Radio access network research with O-RAN (hands-on)
12:30pm - 12:40pm
Wrap-up and future POWDER plans
Call For Participation
The software-defined sea change that has relentlessly redefined the way we think about wired network infrastructures has reached mobile and wireless networks and is fundamentally changing the industry and the research associated with it: Emerging 5G mobile networks are service based  and assume network slicing as a fundamental primitive ; broad industry efforts are moving to virtualize and “open up” the radio access network ; numerous open source wireless and mobile software stacks are emerging [9, 18, 17, 5, 3]; open source network function virtualization (NFV) orchestration platforms and component ecosystems are proliferating [2, 16, 7, 6]; sophisticated off-the-shelf software-defined-radio (SDR) platforms  enable rapid prototyping and experimentation, while SDR technology is used to realize advanced radio platforms .
This sea change presents tremendous opportunity for research in mobile and wireless networking; never before has there been this “perfect storm” of need/demand for advancing mobile and wireless technologies, applications and services, combined with unprecedented access to enabling technologies through software defined architectures and technologies and open source initiatives. At the same time the same perfect storm presents significant challenges to those seeking to make research contributions in this domain: Industry-driven initiatives, even when “open”, are by design driven by organizations with significant resources, making it difficult to make contributions without being overrun by these industry efforts. Further, open source stacks in this domain are sophisticated and quite complex with many possible options and configurations, making it difficult to establish baseline functionality on which to start meaningful research. Finally, while the sea change promises access to the necessary enabling technologies, putting those together in a meaningful manner (e.g., hardware, software, access to spectrum, realistic scenarios etc.), is a daunting task.
This tutorial will introduce attendees to the POWDER platform which provides researchers access to the technologies associated with the software-defined sea change in mobile and wireless research and solve many of the challenges in using/exploiting them. Attendees will be introduced to the capabilities of the POWDER platform through hands-on exploration of selected research topics.
The POWDER-RENEW project (https://powderwireless.net,https://renew.rice.edu) is part of the National Science Foundation’s Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) initiative (https://advancedwireless.org). The POWDER platform is being developed and deployed by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and provides remote access to a state-of-the-art end-to- end software-defined mobile and wireless testbed. The POWDER platform includes massive MIMO equipment and software from the RENEW team at Rice University.
August 19, 2019
The POWDER platform (lecture): We will describe salient aspects and features of the POWDER platform. We will describe the hardware and software available on the platform, as well as the experimental workflow involved in using it.
End-to-end full-stack mobile network performance (hands-on): With some exceptions , mobile network performance has traditionally treated the mobile network as a “black box”, i.e., performing performance measurements from the “outside” [14, 20, 15]. (Indeed, an NSF workshop on mobile measurements identified “instrumentation challenges” as one of the key operational challenges in understanding the performance of mobile networks.) This problem is exacerbated by emerging 5G developments that are introducing new radio technologies [1, 19] and have applications/services with much more varied performance needs [11, 13, 12]. A key benefit of the POWDER software defined platform is that it is fully instrumentable, thus enabling researchers to perform end-to-end full-stack mobile network performance analysis. During this session attendees will perform hands-on exploration of POWDER features and mechanisms that enable end-to-end full-stack mobile network performance analysis.
Open source stacks for mobile and wireless research (lecture): We will review available open source stacks relevant for mobile and wireless research. We will describe software stacks that are available on the POWDER platform, the process involved with making software stacks available on the platform, and explain how this simplifies and enables research efforts.
Radio access network research with O-RAN (hands-on): The radio access network (RAN) is currently the focus of refactoring, i.e., variations in terms if the functional split between centralized and distributed components in the RAN , and “opening up”, i.e., industry efforts towards opening the radio access network (RAN) ecosystem to enable novel RAN use cases . This session will review relevant background and describe capabilities of the POWDER platform to explore RAN related research. Participant will perform hands-on exploration of basic O-RAN/XRAN functionality in the POWDER platform.
Requirements for attendees
For hands-on sessions, attendees will perform scripted exploration of the POWDER platform . Tutorial attendees will be required to access POWDER, using their own laptops, through ssh and/or web browser sessions.
Attendees will be provided with instructions on how to sign up for the platform in advance of the tutorial.
Jacobus (Kobus) Van der Merwe
Kobus Van der Merwe is the Jay Lepreau Professor in the School of Computing and co-director of the Flux Research Group at the University of Utah. He joined the University of Utah after fourteen years at AT&T Labs - Research. He received a PhD from the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University in England in 1998 and M. Eng and B. Eng degrees in electronic engineering from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1991 and 1989 respectively. He does networking systems research in a broad range of areas including network management, control and operation, mobile networking, network evolution, network security and cloud computing. He has more than 90 peer reviewed publications and more than 80 issued patents. He is the principal investigator and director for the POWDER mobile and wireless networking platform.
Gary Wong is a research associate in the Flux Research Group of the University of Utah’s School of Computing, where he performs development and maintenance for testbeds supporting operating system, network and wireless research. His own research interests include kernels, compilers, and networks. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Auckland in 1995.
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