Modern Facilities

Private Cloud

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We have our own, modern and comfortable lecture halls and laboratory rooms; they are located in a brand-new industrial-style extension of the building. In our labs students can experiment with radio access nodes, private branch exchanges, communications protocol analysers, multiple types of IoT nodes and controllers, etc. Of course, there are desktops, laptops and smartphones that are loaded with exercise-specific software and general application development environments. But there is also a virtualised lab that can be accessed over the network. It encompasses network emulation, network management, system simulation, mathematical programming, data management, application servers software. We also have a small private data center. It encompasses a farm of multiprocessor servers from Fujitsu and Hewlett-Packard, which provide almost 300 logical processing cores, almost 2TB of RAM memory, and the total capacity of disk array systems of over 40TB. The servers are interconnected with 10G Ethernet switches and routers, with subnetworks and VLANs organised for different groups of users. The server infrastructure is fully virtualised with already hundreds of virtual machines and virtual switches shared between research projects and student labs in on-demand fashion. High availability of the data center is achieved by means of redundant power supply, cooling systems and uplink network connections.

24/7 Lab Access

Network Emulators

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Students can access the resources of our virtualised lab either on-site at the laboratory rooms and lecture halls or remotely over the Internet. The virtualised lab can be accessed 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Thus, students can execute their lab exercises and work towards their diploma at a most suitable place and time. To resolve potential conflicts in lab access we run a lab reservation system – with an Internet application students can book the resources required for a lab exercise or for their work. We use several different network emulators for research and teaching. In a considerable number of courses, both basic level and advanced, we use the GNS network emulator, so the students could become familiar with the mechanisms and structure of the data plane of the network, learn how to configure real routers, and experiment with traffic management. And for the experiments with the control plane and for teaching the Software Defined Network concept we use the Mininet network emulator and the OpenDaylight and ONOS SDN controllers.

Virtualisation Playground

IoT World

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In our labs we have a number of virtualisation platforms. To virtualise our data center we use products from different vendors: Hyper-V from Microsoft, vSphere from VMware, and VirtualBox from Oracle. In the lab students can experiment with VMware and Microsoft’s virtualisation platforms, as well as with the Docker and Kubernetes container hosting and orchestration platforms. And the virtualisation environment that we use in teaching and research is the OpenStack data center operating system. As OpenStack is more and more commonly used for virtualisation of communications networks, we use it for the experiments on Network Function Virtualisation, NFV management, and function and service orchestration in softwarised, in particular 5G, networks. Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel Edison, IntelMote2, Telos, MICAz, ESP8266, BLE400, LoRa modules, sensors, actuators, gateways, … When it comes to IoT platforms, modules, and tools: you name it, we have it! One can hardly top a plethora of IoT toys available in our lab. The collection have grown primarily due to our continued participation in IoT-focused international projects (see microMole, Goldfish, and SmartSantander). But there is another reason: we simply love to get hands-on experience with new IoT hardware and software components, simply by playing with them (our students working on IoT-related thesis topics could say more about that). As a result, over the years we have managed to engineer systems incorporating a number of well-known IoT technologies from different layers; these include IEEE 802.15.4, IPv6 with 6LoWPAN, CoAP, and MQTT, among others. So, if you are thinking about an innovative IoT prototype, chances are we have both required building blocks and experience needed to put them together.

Service Platforms

Optimisation Packages

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Deployment of electronic communication services of any kind, be it voice, messaging or multimedia, requires appropriate service platforms. We made a careful selection of software packages that could serve as a playground and demonstrator. To this end students can use a preconfigured SIP/IMS environment that integrates best in class open source solutions: Clearwater IMS architecture, Kamailio SIP server, Restcomm Connect, and Restcomm SIP servlets. These can be used both as a teaching aid, giving insight into basic IMS service scenarios, and as a vehicle for development of services and applications using the SIP protocol. We have optimisation software worth around 0.5 million Euro, which we use for research and teaching. It encompasses the AMPL mathematical programming environment and the richest versions of CPLEX, Gurobi and Xpress Mixed-Integer Linear Programming and Quadratic Programming packages, which provide cutting edge performance of solving large optimisation problems. With multiple concurrent floating-type licenses the software can be used on students’ computers, however, the computations can also be performed in our virtualised lab on high-performance virtual machines whenever large number of cores and huge amount of RAM are required.

Telecom Classics

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Every bleeding-edge ICT technology achieves, sooner or later, the legacy status. Expertise necessary for dealing with legacy networks becomes increasingly rare, and is well sought after for convergence-related projects. Some of our tangible assets concerned with such networks are installed in our Networks Lab. There you will find, e.g., a hybrid, integrated (ISDN/PST /VoIP) Private Branch Exchange (DGT) with its Operation and Maintenance system, an extensive range of terminals of most diverse types and makes, as well as measurement equipment: industry-grade monitors and testers (Tektronix) programmed for various subscriber and inter-exchange signalling protocols (DSS1, SS7/SCCP/ISUP…), and flexible protocol monitors of our own design (MONDIS). Apart from being on stand-by for specific projects, this fully operational equipment is available for you to peruse, to feed your curiosity, and also to see how fundamental ICT concepts can be, and indeed have been implemented in a context that is currently far from obvious.