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Unpacking Network-as-a-Service: What Is NaaS and How Does It Work?

Unpacking Network-as-a-Service: What Is NaaS and How Does It Work?

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As the digital landscape continues to evolve, businesses of all sizes struggle to keep up with ever-changing technology. Network as a Service (NaaS) is a cloud-based solution that provides businesses with an effective way to access network services. Without having to purchase or maintain their own physical infrastructure.

Instead, NaaS lets businesses easily configure and manage their networks through a web-based interface, allowing for greater flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. It’s up to the service provider to take care of all the technical aspects of maintaining the network, including security, updates, and troubleshooting. NaaS’s popularity is expected to continue to rise as more and more businesses undergo digital transformation.

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SD-WAN gained prominence in the NaaS landscape during Covid, with the rapid transition to remote work, as a way to reduce costs compared to traditional WAN architectures. But since SD-WAN lacks a global backbone, in practice, it can actually drive up global connectivity costs. Teridion’s AI-WAN uses 25 cloud providers and 500+ PoPs to make global connectivity both fast and truly cost-effective.

The definition and evolution of NaaS

Network as a Service (NaaS) refers to the provision of network services over the internet on a subscription basis. Since first being coined in the early 2000s, the technological evolution of NaaS has undergone several significant advancements. From virtualization, to software-defined networking, automation, cloud computing, and 5G. These complementary developments have enabled organizations to adopt more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective networking solutions. They shift the focus from managing network infrastructure to consuming network services as a utility. Here’s an overview (with lots of acronyms).

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) were one of the early forms of NaaS. They provide secure and encrypted connections over public networks, enabling remote users to access private networks securely. VPNs allow organizations to extend their network infrastructure to remote locations without the need for dedicated physical connections. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) came along a few years later and introduced a more flexible and programmable approach to networking. It decouples the network control plane from the data plane, centralizing the network management and allowing for dynamic configuration and control of network resources.

Then Network Function Virtualization (NFV) took the flexibility further by virtualizing a number of network functions traditionally performed by dedicated hardware appliances.  With NFV, functions such as firewalls, load balancers, and intrusion detection systems could be run as software on standard servers.

In 2013, the rise of cloud computing and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers further advanced the evolution of NaaS. With IaaS, organizations could outsource their entire IT infrastructure, including networks, to cloud service providers. This allowed them to leverage the provider’s network capabilities, scalability, and global presence, reducing the need for on-premises infrastructure.

Network virtualization technologies, like Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) and Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE), enabled the creation of overlay networks. Overlay networks abstract the underlying physical network infrastructure to create virtual networks with their own addressing and routing schemes. This facilitates multi-tenancy, improves network segmentation, and enhances scalability.

SD-WAN gained prominence in the NaaS landscape during Covid with the rapid transition to remote work, but emerged in the network world as early as 2014. It leverages SDN principles to dynamically route network traffic over multiple connections, including MPLS, broadband internet, and LTE. SD-WAN offers centralized management, improved application performance, and network resilience. It also purportedly reduces costs compared to traditional WAN architectures, but in practice, optimizing SD-WAN for security and global connectivity can drive up its related costs since SD-WAN lacks a global backbone.

Finally, the global deployment of 5G technology in 2019 has brought network slicing capabilities to NaaS. Network slicing creates virtual, independent networks over a shared infrastructure, tailored to specific use cases or customer requirements. It enables the provisioning of dedicated network resources for different applications, ensuring performance, security, and quality of service.

The benefits of NaaS for business

Network as a Service offers businesses numerous benefits compared to traditional network setups. The primary advantage is ‌ease of deployment and maintenance. As an alternative to MPLS, NaaS eliminates the need for costly hardware and software installations as well as maintenance. It also allows users to access their applications and data from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes it a great solution for remote teams or locations with limited resources. Additionally, NaaS provides flexibility and scalability, enabling companies to quickly adjust bandwidth usage based on user demands.

NaaS helps users gain insights into network performance which would not be available through traditional infrastructure solutions. This allows businesses to anticipate potential issues before they occur and optimize their networks for improved application experience and increased productivity overall.

How global enterprises use NaaS

Examples of how global enterprises use NaaS include:

  1. A multinational corporation with offices in different countries can use NaaS to connect its branches to a centralized network, for secure and efficient communication and collaboration between teams.
  2. A large e-commerce company can use NaaS to handle the high volume of traffic to its website, ensuring that customers can access its services quickly and securely.
  3. A healthcare organization can use NaaS to securely share patient data between different healthcare providers, improving the quality of care and reducing costs.

How is NaaS related to SASE?

NaaS (Network as a Service) and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) are two different but related concepts in the world of networking and cloud computing.

NaaS refers to the delivery of networking resources, such as bandwidth, routing, and network security, as a service over the internet.

SASE, on the other hand, is an architecture that combines networking and security functions into a single cloud-based service. SASE provides secure access to network resources for remote users, regardless of their location or the device they are using, by using a combination of networking technologies and security services such as firewalls, secure web gateways, and zero-trust network access.

So, while NaaS focuses on the delivery of network resources, SASE provides a comprehensive solution for secure access to those resources. However, NaaS can be a component of SASE, as the delivery of networking resources is a critical part of providing secure access.

The future of NaaS

The future of NaaS looks promising as cloud computing continues to rise in popularity. As technology advances, NaaS solutions will continue to evolve and integrate with other IT solutions such as AI-powered analytics tools and automated workflow processes. This integration will allow organizations to better protect their data while streamlining their network management processes through automation.

In addition, the integration of edge computing is a potential game-changer for companies looking to improve their network’s latency and responsiveness. Edge computing makes applications run faster by storing data closer to where it is required. This reduces the need for large bandwidths across wide area networks (WAN) as well as the costs associated with running an enterprise network over time.

Finally, 5G technology is expected to revolutionize how businesses access their cloud resources in the near future.  5G’s speed will enable businesses to send larger amounts of data within shorter time frames than ever before – cutting latency issues that can slow down operations or disrupt customer service experiences. Additionally, 5G technology provides enhanced encryption protocols that help keep sensitive company data safe from unauthorized access or misuse. This makes it an ideal choice for any business looking for improved efficiency from its network operations without sacrificing security measures.

Overall, Network as a Service (NaaS) offers an attractive solution for businesses seeking greater agility, scalability and flexibility from their networks. All while providing cost savings and enhanced security features. By taking into account additional considerations when evaluating NaaS solutions, such as vendor support and industry regulations, companies can get the most out of this technology. And protect themselves against potential risks associated with its implementation. With new advances in 5G and edge computing, now is an ideal time for organizations to take advantage of NaaS to stay ahead in today’s digital landscape.

Teridion's AI-powered NaaS Solution—Reliable and Cost-Effective

Teridion’s patented AI Network as a Service is the only connectivity solution that delivers reliable internet performance as a plug-and-play platform. To any global location with any edge device. Beyond offering a new standard for connectivity, Teridion breaks the trade-off between performance and ease of use.  Our NaaS is fast to deploy, flexible to configure, transparent in monitoring, and cost-effective compared to existing solutions.

It’s now easier than ever to digitally transform your enterprise, with global teams working together as though in the same room.

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