Nokia Bell Labs has announced it is leading a project to develop the next generation platform as a service (NGPaaS) for 5G.

The company is set to lead a consortium of industry vendors, operators, IT companies, SMEs and European academic institutions to build the NGPaaS over the next 24 months. The consortium is part of the 5G Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP), launched in 2014 as an initiative between the European Union and telecom stakeholders.

Nokia said that the 5G standard is emerging “at a particular time in technology history when the cloud is deeply transforming many industries and services”. Innovations therefore have to be cloud-native in order to be successful, the company said. This means a model beyond the current infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model has to be adopted, resulting in a platform as a service (PaaS) model.

According to Nokia, an ideal 5G cloud-native platform should be able to facilitate building, shipping and running virtual network function (VNF) applications with what it called “telco-grade” quality in terms of latency, reliability and capacity.

It should also combine many third-party applications with those VNFs, which would then create more versatile and powerful cloud objects, breaking silos between connectivity (to humans, robots, and sensors, for example) and computing (such as machine learning, big data, video applications).

This sort of platform does not yet exist. However, Bessem Sayadi, consortium project leader and research manager for Nokia Bell Labs, explained: "The consortium's ambition for developing a next generation PaaS is to enable developers to collaborate within the 5G ecosystem (operator, vendor, third party) in order to ignite new businesses; thereby increasing market scale and improving market economics."

Nokia said it sees PaaS as an “essential stepping stone” for those service providers that are looking to gain the greatest benefit from the carrier cloud while they evolve their networks.

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