Dynamic Network Slice Scaling Assisted by Attention-Based Prediction in 5G Core Network

Network slicing is a key technology in fifth-generation (5G) networks that allows network operators to create multiple logical networks over a shared physical infrastructure to meet the requirements of diverse use cases. Among core functions to implement network slicing, resource management and scaling are difficult challenges. Network operators must ensure the Service Level Agreement (SLA) requirements for latency, bandwidth, resources, etc for each network slice while utilizing the limited resources efficiently, i.e., optimal resource assignment and dynamic resource scaling for each network slice. Existing resource scaling approaches can be classified into reactive and proactive types. The former makes a resource scaling decision when the resource usage of virtual network functions (VNFs) exceeds a predefined threshold, and the latter forecasts the future resource usage of VNFs in network slices by utilizing classical statistical models or deep learning models. However, both have a trade-off between assurance and efficiency. For instance, the lower threshold in the reactive approach or more marginal prediction in the proactive approach can meet the requirements more certainly, but it may cause unnecessary resource wastage. To overcome the trade-off, we first propose a novel and efficient proactive resource forecasting algorithm. The proposed algorithm introduces an attention-based encoder-decoder model for multivariate time series forecasting to achieve high short-term and long-term prediction accuracies. It helps network slices be scaled up and down effectively and reduces the costs of SLA violations and resource overprovisioning. Using the attention mechanism, the model attends to every hidden state of the sequential input at every time step to select the most important time steps affecting the prediction results. We also designed an automated resource configuration mechanism responsible for monitoring resources and automatically adding or removing VNF instances.

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