An ever-expanding category of service offerings, which has been around for more than 10 years, now includes enterprise network-as-a-service. NaaS enables enterprises to outsource network functionality at network Layers 4-7—such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) and application delivery controller (ADC)—as well as Layers 1-3, which includes switches and routers.
Full adoption of NaaS is still in its early days because it requires physical hardware to transport data to and from endpoints and the data center or internet. The available options provide overlay networking services that can be enabled and delivered in the cloud with minimal or no management of on-premises hardware. These include:
-Secure work-at-home networking and remote access
-Security including firewalls, DDOS protection, and Web security gateways
-Management, orchestration and network automation (MANO)
-Multi-cloud network access and control
NaaS enables rapid provisioning of new sites and new services as well as the elasticity to readily scale up and scale down as demand changes.
NaaS makes it possible to moving significant CAPEX to OPEX, allows outsourcing some or all of the resources needed to network a given location or category of users.
An enterprise NaaS is not without its challenges. Because the service is relatively new, NaaS pricing is still uncertain, so business leaders may find operational costs may be more than they budgeted for. Also as NaaS is enabled by fast, low-latency internet services, any interruption in WAN connectivity may seriously degrade enterprise network operations. Adopting NaaS will require a transition from the current enterprise model where highly trained in-house network engineers operate all the networking hardware. While most enterprises will continue to run physical networks on-premises, they will add cloud-based intelligence including MANO and security.
Over the next five-plus years, IT teams will increasingly adopt NaaS as suppliers deliver hybrid offerings that include software, cloud intelligence, and the option for management of on-premises hardware. The best fits for adoption now are greenfield sites, temporary locations, and small branch offices. NaaS offerings will also be attractive to network remote, home and mobile workers who need reliable application performance.