Forecasting for Network Management with Joint Statistical Modelling and Machine Learning
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Forecasting is a task of ever increasing importance for the operation of mobile networks, where it supports anticipatory decisions by network intelligence and enables emerging zero-touch service and network management models. While current trends in forecasting for anticipatory networking lean towards the systematic adoption of models that are purely based on deep learning approaches, we pave the way for a different strategy to the design of predictors for mobile network environments. Specifically, following recent advances in time series prediction, we consider a hybrid approach that blends statistical modelling and machine learning by means of a joint training process of the two methods. By tailoring this mixed forecasting engine to the specific requirements of network traffic demands, we develop a Thresholded Exponential Smoothing and Recurrent Neural Network (TES-RNN) model. We experiment with TESRNN in two practical network management use cases, i.e., (i) anticipatory allocation of network resources, and (ii) mobile traffic anomaly prediction. Results obtained with extensive traffic workloads collected in an operational mobile network show that TES-RNN can yield substantial performance gains over current state-of-the-art predictors in both applications considered.