NaaS: Network-as-a-service is the future, but it’s got challenges

NaaS offers flexibility, rapid provisioning, and predictable costs, but needs to resolve issue of vendor lock-in and service-level.

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As-a-service offerings have been around for more than 10 years with roots that are decades older than that, and now this ever-expanding category of service offerings 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 most enterprise network functions require physical hardware to transport data to and from endpoints and the data center or internet. That is a challenge to deliver as a service. The Layer 4-7 functions are already available in a cloud-delivery model.

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.

These services will be subscription-based and pay as you go, making networking more of an operational cost than a capital cost. They will provide centralized management with the ability to easily add and remove network and security functionality.

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