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Network as a Service

What is Network As a Service (NaaS)?

Network as a Service (NaaS) refers to using programmable and software-defined networking (SDN) to provide Enterprises with networking services so they don’t have to set up their own. With this network as a service definition, an organization can set up its networking system quickly while also having the ability to make changes as needed without purchasing extra equipment.

What is NaaS? NaaS can replace other networking systems that often require more work and provide less agility, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). In addition, by using NaaS, you can shift your networking system to your provider, who can also give you security services to keep your network environment safe. This means you don’t have to invest in on-premise firewalls and other security appliances.

Evolution of NaaS

Networking began with physical networks built out of fiber, copper, routers, and switches. Most of them have been, traditionally, built by external network operators or internal IT teams. These networks consisted of a series of physical devices, including switches, routers, firewalls, and more. And software was used to control how these components interact with each other.

As time passed, however, software-defined networking (SDN) began to grow in popularity, and this became the predecessor for NaaS. Software-defined networking involves using software to manage network traffic and control how networking components behave. Also, network function virtualization (NFV) came on the scene and started to grow in popularity. NFV involves using software instead of physical devices to perform network functions. In this way, a network engineer can simply connect various virtual network nodes together, and then use them to perform the same functions that physical hardware devices would.

With the combination of SDN controlling network operations and NFV virtualizing networking components, it became easy for providers to offer NaaS.

At the same time, not all NaaS setups are completely virtual. You can also use a NaaS provider to source physical networking devices, but instead of buying them, you rent them, whether they’re in your physical location or data center.

How Does Network as a Service (NaaS) Work?

NaaS works by offering organizations networking services so they do not have to invest in purchasing, installing, and maintaining networking hardware. The customer then pays a subscription monthly to access the provider’s network resources.

The provider may offer customers a range of different options, such as:

  • Managed services, where the customer pays to use hardware on a subscription basis while the provider operates and maintains it
  • Rented hardware, which is when the provider owns networking hardware and allows the customer to rent it from them. In this situation, customers have to install and operate the equipment themselves.
  • Full NaaS. In a full NaaS setup, the provider handles everything in relation to the networking hardware, including installing and operating it.

Why Is NaaS a Priority for Businesses?

NaaS is a priority for many businesses because it comes with some distinct advantages that help them maintain a competitive edge:

  • It makes the setup and maintenance of network technology faster and more convenient.
  • The process of deploying new networking features is much quicker.
  • As the modern, competitive business environment demands quick changes to networking capabilities, NaaS gives an organization the speed and agility it needs to adjust.

How NaaS Will Impact SaaS, PaaS, and Cloud Strategy?

NaaS is sure to have a big impact on software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and cloud strategy because it enables an organization to quickly deploy SaaS and PaaS throughout the network. For example, if a company decides to transition from a software solution hosted on-premise on each employee’s computer to a SaaS solution, it can use NaaS to make SaaS available to other business locations.

For instance, if they recently opened a branch in India, they could use an NaaS provider to set up a network that connects the India branch, and then have the SaaS provider deploy the company’s business software in that new location.

An organization can do the same thing if it wanted to provide a satellite location with access to its PaaS system. NaaS makes it quick and easy to connect SaaS, PaaS, and other cloud services with disparate locations.

7 Advantages of NaaS To a Business Network

Seven of the primary advantages of NaaS for a business network include:

  1. IT simplicity and automation
  2. Access from anywhere
  3. Enhanced security
  4. Visibility and insights
  5. Improved application experience
  6. Flexibility
  7. Scalability

1. IT Simplicity and Automation

With NaaS, organizations can continuously release new fixes and features, as well as expand their networking capabilities by simply asking their NaaS provider to do so. In addition, you can automate multiple tasks, including onboarding new users and orchestrating network functions like load balancing and bandwidth management.

2. Enhanced Security

NaaS enables you to better integrate your network and network security. Network security is sometimes pieced together by some suppliers. But NaaS solutions can offer both on-premise and cloud security. This brings several benefits. For example, it can speed up any transition to a secure access service edge (SASE) architecture no matter where or when it has to be deployed. This is possible because your NaaS provider can install your SASE solution for you, directly within the NaaS they manage.

3. Visibility and Insights

Network as a Service in cloud computing offers proactive network monitoring, sophisticated firewall capabilities, and security policy enforcement across your environment. In addition, you get advanced firewall and packet inspection capabilities. The combination of these technologies streamlines the process of observing what’s happening inside your network, enabling you to keep an eye out for abnormal activity.

4. Improved Application Experience

It’s important to have the connectivity you need to support the kinds of user experiences that customers enjoy, no matter where your clients are located, and NaaS gives you the freedom to provide that. For example, with a NaaS system, you can have access to AI-powered network optimization that helps you meet the high demands of your client's network needs. For instance, with NaaS, you can use AI to intelligently route traffic from web applications so users don’t have to deal with excessive latency.

5. Flexibility

NaaS provides you with unprecedented flexibility because hardware isn’t used to implement changes; software is. IT teams can, for instance, add additional branch sites very quickly and adjust their corporate networks as needed.

6. Scalability

Compared to conventional, hardware-based networks, NaaS is far more scalable. Instead of buying, configuring, deploying, and securing new hardware, if you have NaaS you can just buy extra capacity. This means you can scale up or down fast as needed.

7. Access from Anywhere

Because NaaS can be set up in the cloud, it can be accessed from anywhere someone has an internet connection. This makes it simple to connect various offices and resources regardless of where they are in the world. In effect, NaaS can literally break down all potential barriers that could exist between disparate business systems.

Three Key Challenges of Network as a Service (NaaS)

Three of the most significant challenges of NaaS include compatibility, legacy data centers, and vendor lock-in.

Compatibility

If you have a legacy system, there’s a chance that your NaaS infrastructure won’t be compatible. Consequently, you may have to replace some of your components so they’re able to interface with your NaaS system.

Legacy Data Centers

Similarly, if you use a legacy data center that you run on-premise, it may not be able to integrate with a cloud NaaS model. But you may be able to use a cloud service that serves as an intermediary between your legacy data center and a NaaS system by essentially pulling your on-premise data into the cloud and then sending it to your NaaS-powered network.

Vendor Lock-In

Anytime you use a cloud service, you face the danger of vendor lock-in. After a while, your business systems may become dependent on specific features that only your current NaaS provider offers. This can make it more difficult to change providers if you’re not satisfied with the one you have.

IaaS vs NaaS vs PaaS

NaaS is very different from IaaS and PaaS, primarily because NaaS focuses on networking services. With IaaS and PaaS, on the other hand, you get infrastructure and a software platform, respectively from your service provider. NaaS doesn’t offer business software, nor does it provide data storage and other non-networking features that you’d get with IaaS.

How Is NaaS Related to SASE?

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), which provides security to individual applications no matter where your workforce is using them, is an ideal fit for a NaaS infrastructure. This is because you can deploy individual SASE units, which are sometimes referred to as points of presence, strategically throughout your NaaS-provided network. In other words, you can have your NaaS provider secure specific applications according to what makes them the safest without compromising performance.

Network As a Service (Naas): Market Forecast For The Next 10 Years

Due to its inherent flexibility and convenience, the next 10 years are looking good for the NaaS market. In fact, according to a report by Forrester, almost two-thirds of IT leaders have already begun shifting to NaaS and other as-a-Service services. Similar to how SaaS has become popular, with many business applications running in cloud environments, NaaS is poised to do the same for networking functions.

Use Cases of Network as a Service (NaaS)

There are several ways to use NaaS, and, in reality, the extent to which you leverage it may be limited only by the imagination. Here are some NaaS examples:

  •  Incorporate advanced networking infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi 6, throughout your business network by simply asking your NaaS provider to set it up.
  • Cut down on the amount of time it takes to update your system. Instead of manually struggling with a systematic update throughout your ecosystem, you can send a quick email to your NaaS provider, and they can do it for you.
  • Quickly connect with new branch locations. With NaaS, your service provider can handle all the connections you need when setting up a new location. This saves you from having to manually wrestle with many time-consuming configurations and tests.

How Fortinet Can Help?

With Fortinet’s FortiSASE, you get a SASE that enables secure access by remote and hybrid workers to the business applications they need to do their jobs. With FortiSASE, you can secure workers’ internet access and provide private, secure access to either many applications or just the ones that specific employees require.

FAQs

What is Network as a Service (NaaS)?

Network as a service (NaaS) refers to using software-defined and programmable networking to provide Enterprises with networking services so they don’t have to set up their own.

What are the benefits of Network as a Service (NaaS)?

Some of the benefits of NaaS to a business network include:

•           IT simplicity and automation

•           Access from anywhere

•           Enhanced security

•           Visibility and insights

•           Improved application experience

•           Flexibility

•           Scalability

What are the challenges of Network as a Service (NaaS)?

The most significant challenges of NaaS include compatibility, legacy data centers, and vendor lock-in.