Industry Specification Group (ISG) Experiential Networked Intelligence (ENI) Activity Report 2021

Chair: Raymond Forbes, Huawei Technologies

Responsible for developing standards that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) mechanisms for improving the operator experience to more quickly recognize and incorporate new and changed knowledge, and hence make actionable decisions as well as assisting in the management and orchestration of the network.

Technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and network slicing are making networks more flexible and powerful. However these same innovations are also making networks harder to manage efficiently.

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques in the network supervisory and management system can help address some of the challenges of future network deployment and operation.

Our Industry Specification Group on Experiential Networked Intelligence (ISG ENI) develops standards that use AI mechanisms to assist in the management and orchestration of the network. The group’s work focuses on improving the operator experience, using closed-loop AI mechanisms based on context-aware, metadata-driven policies. This enables the ENI system to recognize and incorporate new and changed knowledge, and hence make actionable decisions.

ENI has specified a set of use cases and the derived requirements for a generic technology independent architecture of a network supervisory assistant system based on the ‘observe-orient-decide-act’ control loop model. This model gives recommendations to decision-making systems, such as network control and management systems, to adjust services and resources offered based on changes in user needs, environmental conditions, and business goals.

By developing standards that use AI mechanisms to recognize new or changed knowledge – and thus make actionable decisions for operators – the work of ISG ENI enables an efficient intelligence-based assistance to SDN and NFV deployments which will in turn manage and orchestrate the network.

The group accordingly considers a range of ENI related issues including architecture, AI, security, and Proof of Concept (PoC) frameworks, while coordinating activities with other entities within ETSI and externally.

By the end of 2021 the group’s work was technically completed on ENI Release 2 that specifies enhanced use cases, requirements, system architecture and Proof of Concept (PoC) specifications. Meanwhile significant progress was made on several Work Items relating to Release 3.

During the course of the year ISG ENI issued or updated seven Group Reports, alongside a revised description of the ENI system architecture:

Published in March 2021, ETSI White Paper #44 – titled ‘ENI Vision: Improved Network Experience using Experiential Networked Intelligence’ – provides guidance for ENI’s future development plus an overview of current ENI publications. 

Developed according to our Proof of Concept Framework, ENI Proofs of Concept (PoC) are intended to demonstrate ENI as a viable technology. Results are fed back to the relevant Industry Specification Group for each PoC. A list and descriptions of all current ENI PoC are available on the public ETSI ENI wiki pages.

Work Items meanwhile in progress in 2022 include:

  • Revision to Group Report (GR) on evaluation of categories for AI application to networks.
  • Revision to GS on ENI use cases (Release 3) – specifying additional use cases and scenarios that are enabled with enhanced experience, through the use of network intelligence, in particular technologies studied in new work items (e.g., intent networking) in the same phase of ENI.
  • New GR on reactive in-situ flow information telemetry – describing motivation, requirements, and challenges of using flow-oriented on-path telemetry techniques which provides relevant measurement or event reports to the AI-enabled network entities.
  • New GR on ENI intent policy model.
  • New GR on procedures for processing and management of intent policy.
  • New Group Specification (GS) on ENI models - representing, inferring, and proving knowledge in ENI.
  • Revision to GS on ENI requirements - how intelligence is applied to the network and applications in different scenarios to improve experience of service provision and network operation.
  • New GS on transformer architecture for policy translation - specifying how a transformer architecture can be used to translate input policies to ENI policies for use in cognitive networking and decision making in modern system design.
  • Revision to GR on ENI terminology - terms and definitions used within the scope of ISG ENI.
  • Revision to GS on ENI system architecture.
  • Revision to GR on definition of data processing mechanisms.

See the full list of ISG ENI Work Items currently in development here.

For more information read the ISG ENI Chair’s regularly updated blog here.

During 2021 ISG ENI maintained its active liaison with other ETSI groups, namely: ISG NFV, ISG ZSM, MEF, F5G, 3GPP TSG SA5, ITU-T SG13, SG12, SG11 and ITU-T FGML5G.

In 2021 the number of ENI members and participants rose further to 42 individual members and 21 participants.