NETWORK-AS-A-SERVICE: WHAT IS IT AND WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER IT?

DANIEL THOMAS
Head Of Solution Development at Axians UK
linkedin.com/in/danielnthomas
daniel.thomas@axians.co.uk

Network-as-a-Service: what is it and why you should consider it ?

A question I’m often asked by technology leaders is “How can I evolve my network to match the growth ambitions of my organisation? And how do I make sure that it can facilitate evolving requirements over the next few years?” For many organisations persevering with the ‘status quo’ is the only option. Time, budget and resource constraints often conspire together to inhibit the evolution of the enterprise  infrastructure but Network-as-a-Service is a welcome remedy to this common dilemma. IT leaders can now think differently about how to consume, manage and innovate the network.

In my ‘mature’ tenure in the networking industry, I’ve never experienced the pace of change that I’ve witnessed over the last 5 years. It has always proven difficult to both deliver and innovate with the same team. The lack of time is one of the biggest culprits, which makes maintaining the network infrastructure challenging, this partly due to network management becoming increasingly complex following an increase in demand and expectation. No longer can we operate with both local and external connectivity being under scoped. That is why more and more companies see Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) as a smart alternative choice. In this blog I will define what NaaS is and what the benefits are.

What is Network-as-a-Service?

If you were to search for the term you’re likely to find different interpretations, however all with a common theme – consumption models, elasticity and innovation. Axians Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is about working together with CTO’s, CIO’s and infrastructure leaders to help expedite their technology and service ambitions by the unburdening of the day to day network management using a predictable, scalable opex based pay-per-use model. It is literally leasing aspects of the infrastructure and management of the network from a manged services partner to augment existing IT teams, not replace them.

Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) differs from a traditional managed service as ownership of the hardware, software and licences are retained by the provider, not the end user.

Bringing all of the component parts of NaaS solution together equates to the infrastructure becoming a business enabler that underpins short and long-term strategic ambitions. The predictable fixed cost OPEX finance model will be very appealing to CFOs and the fact that if you do not use certain components, you can simply return them and they will disappear from your next monthly invoice just adds to the attraction of this approach.

Network management requires specialist knowledge

If we consider that in a cloud-first strategy, most, if not all of the applications and services will be consumed on a pay-per-use model, indeed, elastic services are one of the main attractions so why should the infrastructure that supports this be any different? Traditional LAN/WLAN network infrastructure has largely remained unchanged, but it makes sense that in order to fully realise the benefits of digital transformation, the network needs to evolve work in harmony with the subscription-based services it supports.

A properly managed network infrastructure requires specialist knowledge and experience, two values that are in high demand. As a consequence, risk mitigation and governance are likely to be compromised. What is the level of threat in your business of someone walking out of the door to a new job with much of the network management knowledge still locked in their heads? Questions such as; Is the network fully compliant? Do we have the latest security patches? What if something goes down after working hours? How can we standardise to ensure the network performs predictably? These are all very real and common concerns that to address properly, require time and resource.

To continually improve user experience and maintain business continuity the network requires constant optimisation – availability, capacity and security. On top of this most likely sit other strategic business demands for new products and services that need consideration and actioning, again, more time and more effort which is why we are seeing XaaS for enterprise and campus infrastructures on an upward trend.

What are the benefits of Network-as-a Service?

With Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) you pay a fixed amount for management, hardware, licenses per location or component, based on your use. It offers clarity because you know exactly what you are paying for and it offers flexibility because you can easily scale up and down based on the components you actually use.

In a sense you are subscribing to innovation, subscribing to a next-generation future proof network with all the possibilities that come with it but without having to underwrite the internal resource and time that this normally would require.

Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is a great way to free up more time, budget and thinking space for innovation. However, it may also spark other thoughts such as; “How do you manage the balance between business objectives and IT budget?”, “How do I get the best out of my IT employees?”, “How does it contribute to the growth of my business?”. 

These and other question are covered in a series of blogs we have created that take the perspective of the CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO and CPO who share their vision of how Network-as-a-Service benefits their world and the organisation as a whole. 


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