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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R004935/1
Title: Next Generation Converged Digital infrastructure (NG-CDI)
Principal Investigator: Race, Professor N
Other Investigators:
Stiles, Dr PG Moessner, Professor K Tafazolli, Professor R
Parlikad, Professor A McFarlane, Professor D Piechocki, Professor RJ
Hutchison, Professor D Wang, Professor N Eckley, Professor IA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Computing & Communications
Organisation: Lancaster University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2017 Ends: 31 October 2023 Value (£): 2,561,398
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Networks & Distributed Systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 May 2017 Prosperity Partnerships Interviews Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This programme will forge the research required to underpin the next generation converged digital infrastructure for BT, creating a radically new technology architecture for autonomous operation of future networks and services.

Digital infrastructure networks of the future will be highly reliable and resilient to disruptions through autonomous operations and will be able to cope with increasing demands on its capacity and types of services. These networks will be equipped with programmable and virtualised network functions that can be flexibly placed at specific network locations. New and unpredicted services will be capable of being supported without the need to make costly changes to the infrastructure at the physical level. The physical nodes of the infrastructure network will be represented digitally by a 'digital twin' or 'software agent' which will make them "autonomic" - i.e., the capability to perceive its state and environment, understand and predict its behaviour, and react to disruptions and opportunities autonomously with an aim to enhance customer experience. The network will be able to detect and predict possible disruptions, analyse the risk to service provision, make autonomous decisions regarding the (re)deployment of functions to least risky network locations and arrange remedial actions such as repair or replacement of risk-prone nodes. This will lead to new services, improved resilience of the network, better customer experiences and greater operational efficiency ensuring that the UK remains a leading digital economy.

In order to realise this vision, the research carried out in this programme is structured around 5 challenges:

Research Challenge 1: Agile Converged Infrastructure Systems Architecture. The fundamental question addressed here is "How to build an agile digital infrastructure that is amenable to autonomous operations?" This will be achieved through developments in new technologies such as MicroNFV and SDN.

Research Challenge 2: Future Networks Operations and Services. The fundamental question addressed here is "How to ensure service reliability of the agile autonomic digital infrastructure?" This will be achieved by developing an automated service ecosystem capable of placing virtualised network functions at specific network locations.

Research Challenge 3: Autonomic Knowledge Framework. This challenge addresses the question "How to enable autonomous operational ability for the digital infrastructure?" This is tackled by a multi-agent system architecture and through creating data sources that are intelligent.

Research Challenge 4: Autonomous Diagnostics and Response. This challenge addresses the question "How can the digital infrastructure respond to disruptions autonomously?" This will be answered by developing novel automated change detection and statistical learning techniques.

Research Challenge 5: Future Organisational Dynamics. The question addressed here is "How can the organisation exploit the autonomic agile capabilities of the digital infrastructure?" This is addressed by developing decision-support algorithms for risk-based function redeployment and predictive asset management.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk