Network Economy for Efficient Service Delivery in Heterogeneous Next Generation Networks
In light of the recent popular technological trends, information, communication and mobilisation become the three main motivations of todays customers. Portable computers, Internet and mobile telephony are the primary means that provide the users with the services and applications that satisfy the popular demand. However, the efforts of the multiple vendors to cope with the demand lead the internetwork of today to a heterogeneous infrastructure. Thus, the technological supply-demand chain in telecommunications causes the complexity of both the user devices as well as that of the network to increase. The device complexity is reflected to the typically inexperienced user as a series of difficult configuration tasks, whereas the network complexity is caused by the need to support heterogeneity, quality of service, security and mobility in the network. These issues slow down the application development process significantly and cause the user demand not to be met in time. In addition to the user, they also challenge the two major actors of network management. The network operators, for instance, have to deal with the integration of new communication technologies into existing infrastructures, such that the manageability of their network is improved and their capacity is better utilised, whereas the service providers have to deploy novel services as quickly as possible, such that they experience the benefits of early adaptation and increase their revenues. However, the current network architecture suffers from several major drawbacks and is not flexible enough to support these actors with these features. We believe that a new approach to network design is necessary in order to address the issues stated above. This article presents this approach, which we term network economy. It redefines next generation networks as a service-centric environment with the three actors mentioned above, who build a mutual interest relationship with their respective collection of diverse resources. The objective of network economy is to enable the trading of these resources in a distributed yet organised and intelligent manner, such that all the actors have the chance to maximise the network efficiency with respect to their own views. In order to achieve this objective, the intelligence level of the network is increased by decision engines incorporated into a new node structure, which collect information from the network, classify and store it in a repository to be queried later by their peers. The approach is accompanied by context-aware, self-organising user devices. Thus, network economy provides a network-wide infrastructure to benefit users, service developers as well as network operators.