What is NaaS
and why is it
important for
your network?

Author: Heidi Vella

Recently, there have been plenty of conversations about Network as a service (NaaS). Almost half of enterprise IT professionals said their company purchases or was planning to purchase an application or service through a NaaS offering. The global NaaS market is estimated that it will grow to about $118 billion by 2027.

When asked what is NaaS best suited to be used by enterprises, the same IT professionals mentioned:

  • Optimized network performance
  • Simplified operations
  • Guaranteed service levels
  • Enhanced network security
  • Reduced operational expenditure

However, with all the information about NaaS floating around, there are still some IT professionals who doubt the value of NaaS, with 30% unconvinced about its ability to meet their demands.

So, what is NaaS? And, more importantly, what is it most useful for? Following is a brief overview of how a Network as a Service solution works with several successful examples where enterprises have benefited from the technology to highlight its value.

What is a NaaS?

NaaS is an evolution in network infrastructure that is based on SDN-enabled, cloud-centric solutions that replace the traditional hardware-centric, fixed-cost, capital intensive approach to building and managing networks. The "as-a-service" model offers companies more flexibility in how they build and consume network resources. It can take the pain out of network management with simplified software licensing, billing and more agile uCPE and hosted network services that allows users to more easily scale their network capabilities up or down on a monthly subscription or leased basis.

Unlike traditional networks, which can be rigid and resistant in adapting to evolving needs, the NaaS model allows businesses to take advantage of the networking evolution toward more agile and dynamic infrastructure, including Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), software-defined networking, bandwidth-on-demand and more. These provide the networking foundation needed to support other innovative technologies as well, such as 5G, Mobile Edge Computing, AI/ML, AR/VR and much more.

Successful NaaS examples include Walgreens Boots Alliance, which used NaaS as part of its digital transformation program to "provide customers with seamless and personalized shopping experiences, whether in-store, online or in the palm of their hand."

What is NaaS achieving? A more elastic network

NaaS promises to provide a more elastic network, that is one inherently moldable to a company’s needs. The overall goal is for companies to shift from the fixed-cost, CAPEX, resource heavy, do-it-yourself approaches to a managed service that can evolve in line with a business' needs—with minimal input from the company itself.

NaaS also reduces waste by mitigating the need for idle bandwidth to be built out for peak network demands. This can reduce overall costs and creates a leaner network.

Food and beverage ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle found that its legacy network infrastructure could not support the demands of its growing, global business. The company lacked visibility to maintain reliable application performance. Verizon provided tools to improve performance by automatically routing traffic according to network quality and application requirements which helped to control costs, reaping substantial savings by effectively using redundant network resources. It also supported business growth by seamlessly adding endpoints wherever the supplier's sites were located, including a plant site in a Brazilian jungle.

NaaS reduces the cost of connectivity

What is Naas doing for businesses, you might ask? First, it allows businesses to align what they pay with what they actually use. With more flexible dynamic bandwidth tools and subscription-based services instead of needing to forecast and pay for capacity that might only be needed at peak times—think Black Friday—companies can more easily change their capacity as it is needed. This flexible subscription-based approach helps to keep businesses competitive while still being able to monitor and manage networking services, track usage and billing easily and efficiently.

NaaS can also extend the time between tech refresh cycles because the network is built on more agile and scalable services that can be upgraded or changed more easily without requiring a full technology changeover. At the same time, NaaS provides access to new technology—including infrastructure such as Wi-Fi 6 and 100GbE—and combined with agile NaaS solutions can ensure the network is operating at peak performance levels and can support changing demands.

Pharmaceutical company Bayer is one of many successful NaaS examples. It chose to use NaaS to free up its own resources to focus on supporting its core crop science, pharmaceutical and consumer health business activities while also further developing a secure, stable—but flexible—network platform to improve connectivity and collaboration around the globe in support of ongoing digital business transformation.

NaaS provides flexibility and agility

The increasing use of cloud-based applications and the move to a hybrid work environment have increased the complexity and demands of network architecture. Correspondingly, this has increased the attractiveness of the agile approach NaaS provides. In particular, whether for a global enterprise or a regional company, the pandemic highlighted how network adaptability can help when facing unexpected and unprecedented need for rapid change.

The flexibility of NaaS can be applied to services such as software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), unified communications services and many other applications. Changes are implemented through software, not hardware, creating a more flexible and programmable network. For example, networks can be reconfigured on demand, and new office locations can be added in less time.

Media company Bertelsmann is another NaaS example, reaping the flexibility and agility benefits. The company uses NaaS to quickly scale to accommodate seasonal fluctuations in demand and was able to double North American business capacity with automatic routing via internet and secure MPLS.

Verizon's NaaS solution provides a modern networking foundation that encompasses hybrid networking, network functions virtualization (NFV), orchestration, service chaining and self-healing capabilities—in addition to agility, flexibility, scalability and cost elasticity to the extent possible in the market right now. Verizon also offers the potential to automate network elasticity based on a consumption capacity model.

Learn more about how an experienced provider can help you enable innovation and game-changing digital customer experiences with a flexible, programmable, scalable, and reliable NaaS foundation.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.