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Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions

Software as a service (SaaS) solutions that are bought as a subscription, based on cloud-native architecture, can help communications services providers (CSPs) and enterprises create a digitized business experience with an automated services lifecycle.

According to Bell Labs Consulting, 5G technology will generate $2 trillion of additional value for the telecoms industry by 2028. If they play their cards right, CSPs could quadruple their revenues from largely untapped vertical markets such as factory automation, smart cities, AR education, cloud gaming and more.  

To capitalize on this opportunity, CSPs first need to become more customer-centric in everything they do, redefining their business models to drive top-line growth, foster innovation and streamline operations.  

At the heart of this change is a shift to a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model. Providing flexibility, scale and openness, the SaaS model gives CSPs higher levels of business agility and faster time to market for new digital services.

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What is software as a service (SaaS) and how does it work?

Software as a service (SaaS) is a delivery model in which applications are provided over the cloud as a subscription-based service. Rather than installing and managing software on their own systems, SaaS subscribers access software through a remote cloud network via the Internet or an application programming interface (API). Simply put, with the SaaS model, CSPs are provided access to the software they need instead of buying it outright, typically through a usage-based subscription purchased on a monthly or yearly basis.

Principles of the SaaS universe episode 1 : What is SaaS?

What are the benefits of Telco SaaS

Telco SaaS is about improving value and reducing complexity by providing software that is always the latest version and consumed purely on demand through a subscription, eliminating large up front capital expenditure; by freeing CSPs of the burden of putting their networks through software maintenance and updates; and, by accelerating CSPs’ ability to launch new services faster and see “time to value” quicker.   


Faster time to value:

  • Enables rapid customer adoption and use of service by reducing the time spent on software installation and configuration
  • Provides outcome-based solutions and services, increasing the value proposition of the service
  • Facilitates ecosystem partners and customers in co-creation of value

Improved financial performance:

  • Permits automated scaling and on-demand resource availability, according to customer need
  • Provides swift service provisioning, often within minutes or hours
  • Enables customers to remain up-to-date with frequent and efficient delivery of software patches and upgrades

Greater business agility:

  • Requires limited upfront investment and no additional hardware or physical space
  • Eliminates financial risk related to software maintenance and upgrades
  • Provides improved cost management, lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and compelling economies of scale
  • Lowers entry barriers to market evaluation

Advantages of adopting SaaS

Although it may be a departure from the conventional method of purchasing software, the SaaS model — and the cloud-native capabilities at its heart — can provide huge business advantages for communications service providers (CSPs).

By adopting the SaaS business model, CSPs providers have the opportunity to leave behind their traditional way of buying software. By shifting away from an approach focused on upfront capital expenditures (CAPEX) to one that favors on-demand, as-needed access to cloud-native SaaS applications, CSPs benefit from greater flexibility, cost control and the agility to roll out new offerings quickly to meet evolving customer demands.

See how SaaS helps CSPs transform their business

See how SaaS helps CSPs transform their business

Is SaaS the same as cloud?

At a high level, SaaS is a type of cloud service model. SaaS solutions reside in cloud environments (which are managed by a dedicated cloud vendor) and are often integrated with other software offerings from the same SaaS solution provider. Well-designed SaaS architecture must be able to scale and accommodate hundreds or even thousands of users who will be accessing the software simultaneously over the cloud or the web.

Compared with the traditional approach of installing and maintaining software on-premises, with the SaaS model telecom companies don't have to worry about adding another server on which to run the software. The SaaS provider takes care of all server capacity planning. Telecom companies only need to enable a new SaaS offering — and they get the flexibility to scale their SaaS use up and down based on specific needs.

In addition, because the software is delivered over cloud-based architecture, telecom companies do not need to download upgrades or reinstall new versions of a product. Any updates or patches to a service are handled by the SaaS provider.

How Nokia helps secure and deliver SaaS at scale

To fully seize the 5G opportunity, CSPs need to shorten Time-to-Value for software they use to manage their business, IT and network. At the same time, the expectation to achieve lower Total Cost of Ownership will continue.    

SaaS provides the right combination of rapid Time-to-Value with on-demand access to mature SaaS applications and low TCO. CSPs can achieve this with pay-as-you-go / pay-as-you-grow commercial models.    

To drive that shift, Nokia’s approach to Telco SaaS for CSPs is about providing software that is always the latest version and hosted in any cloud environment.  

As we introduce SaaS services in a simplified delivery model, Nokia expects to combine these independent services into three high-value SaaS “suites” focused on Digital Engagement, Marketplaces and Networking.

  • Digital engagement: To help CSPs secure, predict, orchestrate, automate and monetize 5G operations.
  • Digital marketplace: To enable new vertical solutions and use cases.  
  • Digital networking: To provide dynamic digital infrastructure through SaaS-based 5G network components.  

As our SaaS roadmap evolves, we’ll deliver essential telco capabilities through open-source application programming interfaces (APIs) that are operable across many hyperscale platforms. This will create a multi-vendor SaaS delivery framework that makes the most of our partnerships with leading cloud providers and our ongoing investments in cloud-native software and technologies.


SaaS for CSPs: Empowering you to innovate at scale

Telco SaaS examples and case studies

While most telecom providers are still in the early stages of SaaS adoption, some of the well-known industry disruptors are already taking the lead. Vodafone, for example, recently moved its radio access network (RAN) data out of multiple on-premises data lakes into one big “data ocean” on Google Cloud Platform. By doing so, Vodafone was able to quickly deploy the Nokia Anomaly Detection service

In addition, the Nokia Data Marketplace (NDM) can securely facilitate data exchange between various stakeholders. Our CSP customers and enterprise customers in supply-chain verticals are already engaging with us for automating and securing the way data is exchanged with their business partners. NDM, can also assist governmental agencies who have tons of sensitive data distributed across large datasets but cannot allow data to move from its original location. Using federated learning, the solution can extract insights without moving or exposing the data.

With 5G opening many new cybersecurity risks due to more access points in networks, CSPs require automated security that greatly shrinks threat dwell time (the time it takes to remove a cyberattacker once detected); reduces manual tasks; and shortens response time in order to keep 5G consumer and enterprise services safe. In addition to delivering those benefits, Nokia’s new SaaS-based NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome, to be commercially available in early 2022, enables CSPs to monetize security tied with services like 5G slicing.

Use case
Vodaphone case study

Vodafone is partnering with Nokia to build an anomaly detection application on Google Cloud

Learn more about Nokia SaaS solutions


SaaS: A paradigm shift for CSPs

Press release

Nokia announces entry into Software-as-a-Service for CSPs with multiple services

cybersecurity dome webinar

NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome webinar

The Future of SaaS for CSPs with Mark Bunn

The future of SaaS for CSPs