EventsTSSG News

Attending CNSM 2019 in Halifax, Canada: Impressions of a conference and city

By 15th November 2019 No Comments

The Conference

CNSM (Conference on network and Service Management) is jointly organised and hosted by IEEE Comsoc and IFIP TC6/WG6.6. This year it was held on 21-25 October with faculty and students from Dalhousie University as local organisers. The focus is on ensuring that functional (such as bandwidth) and non-functional (such as security) requirements of ICT systems are met. For example, there were many talks about how fog computing enables exciting new services, but the existing techniques that have served the network and service management community well are beginning to show limitations because they struggle to keep up with the rapidly changing network context, or are too heavy to apply on resource-constrained edge devices.

This year’s theme was Embracing the New Wave of AI. Many of the talks described how reinforcement learning offered a means of adapting to change in a way that accepts that such change is inevitable. There were still many papers that used the more traditional tools of the discipline, notably queueing theory and integer linear programming, but the authors acknowledged that AI offered a way to extend these approaches. The keynote speakers were excellent, with notable talks on AI – “We need AI for Systems and Systems for AI”; security “Use AI to change configurations, making Moving Target Defence practical”; VR and AR and their extremely challenging network requirements, Network 2030 (an evolution of the current internet to support emerging challenges like the tactile internet, holographic communications, and the need for communication contracts) and more.

View of a meeting place in the centre of Halifax

Our paper

I (Bernard Butler) presented joint work with Fan Zhang, who is a part-time PhD student in WIT. Unfortunately Fan was unable to obtain a visa to travel (several other papers had to be presented over Skype for the same reason). Our paper was concerned with access control, which is an essential security mechanism used to determine whether certain actions are authorised or not. For example, can a bank teller change the status of an online loan application to “approved”? Increasingly, complex operations are being carried out near the network edge, but deploying existing access control solutions (mostly designed for enterprise networks) has been difficult. In our paper, we describe an implementation of a PDP (which we have called Luas that decides whether an action is permitted or not and which has been designed to use few resources and to have high performance, so that access control does not increase latency to the extent that it becomes a bottleneck, or a heavy drain on scarce resources like memory, CPU or battery capacity. The paper was well received and several of the audience approached me afterwards, wishing to learn more.


Strolling along the Halifax boardwalk

Conference location

Halifax is an historic city and was once the main British port in North America. Many immigrants arrived at its docks and it was also the North American terminus for one of the first transatlantic telegraph cables (in the mid 1800s), so it was a fitting site for a networking conference. It has a fine natural harbour that is best enjoyed from boat excursions or a stroll along its boardwalk. The skyline is dominated by the 18th century citadel overlooking the city, with antique cannons still directed out to sea. The weather was mixed, some fine days interspersed with days with strong winds and rain that would remind you of a coastal town in Ireland. The trees, as elsewhere in Maritime Canada and the North Eastern USA, had brilliant Autumn colours. On the first day of the conference, Canada held its federal elections, so Canadian attendees were slightly distracted that day!


Bernard ready to present the paper


Author: Bernard Butler, WIT/TSSG and CONNECT Centre