ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS: SANT’ANNA SCHOOL AND VODAFONE EXPAND THEIR LONG-STANDING PARTNERSHIP AND ANNOUNCE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN 2021 TO INCREASE EFFICIENCY OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE-ENABLED DATA CENTER OPERATIONS

Sant’Anna School and Vodafone are strengthening their partnership in 2021 as they commit to deepening their efforts on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Network Function Virtualization (NFV), to support timely, efficient and effective data center operations. Following two successful years of working in the “AI for NFV” projects, the two partners have renewed their collaborative initiatives to the core themes of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence for anomaly detection,  load prediction and proactive monitoring of Virtualized Network Functions (VNF)  in facilitating capacity planning and placement mechanisms.

In the context of the mentioned “AI for NFV” projects, the Sant’Anna School research team engineered software-based solutions embedding appropriate AI algorithms that have been connected to the data processing pipeline supporting operations within the Vodafone network. The realized architecture is inherently scalable leveraging on cloud computing technologies, having to process data coming from NFV data centers across 12 EU member countries. The resulting system has proved to constitute a valuable key element in the decision making process performed by the Vodafone Network Virtual Infrastructure Design team.

The collaboration involved at Scuola Sant’Anna a multi-disciplinary research team led by Tommaso Cucinotta, Professor of Embedded Systems at the Institute for Communication, Information and Perception Technologies (TeCIP) and head of the Real-Time Systems Laboratory (ReTiS), as well as Marco Vannucci, TeCIP researcher on AI techniques for industrial systems,  focusing on topics spanning across Operating Systems, Virtualization, Performance Engineering, Troubleshooting, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Networking. On the Vodafone side, the Network Virtual Infrastructure Design team led by project manager Antonino Artale has been involved, with locations in Europe and India.

The collaboration between Vodafone and Sant'Anna School resulted in 3 jointly-owned patents2 of which filed under international applications and 2 co-authored papers valued by the international community and published in prestigious scientific venues.

Launched in 2021, the new project Artificial Intelligence to Support Anomaly Detection in Virtualized Network Functions III focuses on network traffic analysis, real time anomaly detection and recovery, infrastructure protection, and “self-healing” capabilities to improve performance and next generation network robustness.

The Telecom Operator offers 2 fully funded AI and ML research grants. Follow the link:  https://bit.ly/39iGU32 for the application process. The deadline for applications is February 15th, 2021.

The project Artificial Intelligence to Support Anomaly Detection in Virtualized Network Functions adds up to the current collaborative research efforts between the TECIP institute and renowned national and international industrial players. It provides a unique opportunity for junior researchers to develop and refine skills and techniques for anomaly detection and predictive analytics to support optimization of next generation networks.

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