Nowadays, mobile networks are complex sets of heterogeneous equipments that use proprietary management applications, resulting in a huge expenditure, a large effort and a time-consuming process to manage all network elements by means of currently manual or semi-automatical approaches. With the emergency of new technologies, such software-defined networking, network function virtualization, and cloud computing, the current configurable networks are capable of becoming programmable, which will facilitate advanced autonomous network management. This article presents capabilities of a novel framework proposed by the SELFNET project that enables highly autonomic management functionalities. It focuses on the proposed self-healing use case that can be applied to reactively or preventively deal with the detected or predicted network failures. The SELFNET can provide the upcoming 5G system: an autonomic management framework, which brings a remarkable reduction upon operational expenditure and a substantial improvement of quality-of-experience(QoE) in terms of reliability, availability, service continuity and security. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.