Consortium formed to build Cloud Native ‘Next Generation Platform-as-a-Service' for the 5G era

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Aug 10, 2017

via Flickr © Slipshod Photog  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Flickr © Slipshod Photog (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • Next Generation Platform-as-a-Service project to complete in two years
  • Consortium includes consortium of industry vendors, operators, enterprises and  European academic institutions
  • Part of the 5G Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP)

Up to now there’s been a slight disconnect between the telecom industry’s network functions virtualisation (NFV) effort and the folks on the network side of the house readying 5G. It’s not that the two sides don’t expect there to be any collaboration or crossover between the two efforts -  they certainly do and each will say the progress of one is critical to the success of the other.  (see companion video - No 5G without NFV).

It’s more that the two efforts have seemed, for the most part, to have run in parallel with maybe a workshop on NFV at a 5G forum and one on 5G at an NFV conference.

It’s possible that both sides felt that getting agreement over their particular frameworks and technologies was hard enough when it involved just their own stakeholders - inviting more collaboration, too early on, from more interested parties was therefore not a good idea.

Whatever the reasons, that phase had to come to end as 5G peeps over the horizon and working networks rather than just radio technologies need to be tested and validated.

Nokia Bell Labs has announced that it is to lead a consortium of industry vendors, operators, enterprises and  European academic institutions to build what it’s calling a ‘Next Generation Platform-as-a-Service (NGPaaS)’ for the 5G era. 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 concerns.

As the announcement points out, “the 5G standard is emerging at a particular time in technology history when the cloud is deeply transforming many industries and services. As such, innovations have 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. Instead what’s needed is a Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model,” it says.

The platform would be ‘cloud-native’ which is now, after a couple of false starts, generally accepted as the desired framework for NFV. Cloud native basically means building virtual network functions as micro-functions and stringing them together to form services.

So the resulting platform would have two key features says the announcement:

  • An ideal 5G cloud-native platform must facilitate building, shipping and running virtual network function (VNF) applications with 'telco-grade' quality in terms of latency, reliability and capacity, thereby delivering the promise of 5G performance.
  • It must also combine all sorts of third-party applications with those VNF, thereby creating more versatile and powerful cloud objects breaking silos between connectivity (to humans, robots, sensors, etc.) and computing (machine learning, big data, video applications).

Such a platform does not exist today. Bessem Sayadi, consortium project leader and research manager for Nokia Bell Labs, said: "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."

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