With the rapid acceleration of digital transformation and a hyper-connected digital economy, enterprise environments are evolving to encompass on-prem, cloud, and edge infrastructure across distributed users and devices. Legacy network models strain to keep pace and business leaders recognize the need to transform their networks. Enterprises today have come to expect cloud-like experiences and on-demand services with enhanced user control, real-time, and application-driven changes, end-to-end performance visibility, pay-as-you-go, and monthly subscription options. Increasingly, they turn to Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) to meet their network transformation needs.
NaaS operates as a cloud-based delivery model for network infrastructure and services that includes on-demand connectivity, application assurance, cybersecurity, and multi-cloud-based services. It offers organizations a flexible and agile way to order, provision, secure, and consume network resources without having to purchase, manage, or maintain their own hardware and software infrastructure.
Several technology trends have facilitated the emergence of NaaS. The rise of cloud computing and distributed workforces have created easy access to network resources from any location, and advances in virtualization and software defined networking have made it easier to deliver and manage NaaS products and services. Together these innovations let organizations adopt NaaS and consume networking on-demand while maintaining consistent policies across environments.
By delivering robust networking infrastructure and services on-demand from the cloud, NaaS promises to deliver agility, cost efficiency, performance, security, and operational simplicity. The flexible subscription model optimizes expenditures while offering rapid scalability to address changing needs. NaaS leverages extensive infrastructure and expertise to heighten performance and security without expansive in-house investments. Automating routine networking tasks also promises to streamline operations and removes burdens from IT teams. With the power to adapt quickly, optimize costs, accelerate securely, and simplify management, NaaS puts enterprises in the driver’s seat to navigate today’s dynamic business and technology landscapes.
Security challenges NaaS can solve
Safeguarding today’s distributed and dynamic environments against threats presents an uphill battle with traditional networks. As cyber risks evolve, legacy networking slows down security teams struggling to achieve enterprisewide protection. Fragmented policies, siloed visibility, and lack of agility leave attack surfaces exposed. By delivering resilient networking and security on-demand from the cloud, NaaS offers a compelling answer to these security challenges. Whether isolating compromised systems, implementing a zero-trust model, or accelerating deployment of security tools, NaaS offers agility, consistency, expertise, and efficiency that aims to empower security leaders with responsive safeguards for the modern enterprise. Important security challenges that NaaS helps to solve include:
Rapid capacity scaling: The cloud delivery model of NaaS promises to simplify provisioning additional network resources to address emerging threats, compromised systems, or changing capacity needs. Managed services add oversight for operations.
Streamlined provisioning: NaaS connectivity lets teams rollout security measures faster to distributed environments where users and data are spread across cloud and edge versus legacy networks, which struggle to provide enterprise-wide security.
Reduced attack surface: With NaaS, organizations maintain fewer network hardware assets on-site, reducing the on-prem attack surface and shifting critical security services to cloud providers.
Consistent security across environments: NaaS aims to unify network security policies across cloud, edge and on-prem from a centralized platform, eliminating security gaps.
Security expertise: NaaS providers prioritize cybersecurity, investing in the latest security technologies to offer robust protection against threats. Enterprises gain access to the latest new features without the need for in-house expertise.
Flexible cost optimization: Scalable automation and a pay-as-you-go model prevents overprovisioning of unused on-prem security capacity.
With the increasing pace of enterprise transformation, NaaS adoption has accelerated to meet demands for cloud-like agility, scalability and control. Delivering on these advanced capabilities requires coordination of resources across networks – and that’s what NaaS offers.
Industry collaboration among organizations such as MEF, TM Forum, and the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum to foster a standards-based, automated global ecosystem has been important for ensuring NaaS services are delivered with on-demand connectivity, application assurance, and cybersecurity. Toward this end, MEF recently introduced a NaaS Industry Blueprint designed to help accelerate NaaS products and services with a common framework for understanding and defining NaaS. The blueprint establishes a foundation for the industry to build on as it develops the NaaS ecosystem in the years ahead.
Pascal Menezes, chief technology officer, MEF