Nokia Bell Labs will lead a consortium of 12 industry players to build a next-generation platform-as-a-service for the 5G era. Nokia has been one of the most aggressive vendors when it comes to developing 5G network solutions, and this move signals its intent to remain a leading partner for communications service providers (CSPs) in their network transformations for 5G.
NFV and SDN: Network transformation building blocks to 5G
As part of the 5G-PPP Phase 2 initiative, Nokia Bell Labs will lead a consortium of 12 industry vendors, service providers, IT suppliers, enterprises, and academic institutions to develop a next-generation platform-as-a-service (NGPaaS) for 5G networks. Per Nokia, developments for 5G need to be "cloud-native in order to be successful and this means adopting a model beyond the current telco Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) model: a Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model." Over the next 24 months, the NGPaaS consortium will develop an interface for developers to design, ship, and run virtual network function (VNF) applications; along with third-party IT applications, CSPs will be able to deliver new 5G services to enterprises more rapidly and with increased scalability. Essentially, Nokia is leading the effort to simplify a complex process (i.e., onboarding and delivering 5G services) and accelerate 5G deployments for CSPs.
This project comes at a time when service providers are faced with a disruptive paradigm shift: transform legacy physical networks into software-mediated architectures to enable virtualized network functioning and cloud-based service delivery. In turn, CSPs will realize lower costs and vastly improve network agility. Consequently, service providers are investing heavily in software-based technologies, specifically network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), which are required to enable XaaS capability. NFV and SDN are the core technologies in network transformation and will enable carrier networks to support increasing workloads, data traffic, and an expanding number of services over 5G that will vary greatly in latency and capacity requirements.
The evolved 5G network will be a compilation of connectivity technologies (e.g., new radio interface along with older generations, WLAN and PAN) to support 5G use cases, and NFV and SDN will be key enablers of this network transformation. CSP vendors that can offer service providers an end-to-end 5G solution will win. Nokia falls into this category. Its portfolio includes offerings in RAN, IP, optical, cloud, NFV orchestration, and services. With this portfolio breadth, its "5G First" strategy, and its Nokia Bell Labs leadership position in NGPaaS, Nokia is positioned to be a formidable contender on the road to 5G.
Stephanie Gibbons, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networks