Consumer demand and evolving technologies are driving a need for new delivery and consumption models for IT infrastructure. In addition, the shift to online that COVID-19 has accelerated is making cloud-based and virtualized infrastructure more attractive than ever. In this market, one of the deployment models currently gaining ground is Network as a Service or NaaS.
What Is Network as a Service (NaaS)?
Network as a Service (NaaS) is an IT deployment model whereby networking infrastructure is made available to a client in an on-demand or flexible consumption manner. This infrastructure may include integrated network hardware, software, licensing, and technical support. Payment for these services is typically subscription-based, with billing per month, quarter, or year. Network as a Service can be delivered in several ways, including:
- Hardware by Subscription: Here, the client pays a monthly fee rather than purchasing it outright. The end-user is responsible for installing, operating, and maintaining the equipment.
- Managed Hardware: Again, payment to make the hardware available is on a subscription basis. In addition, the plan includes a managed service for operating the equipment.
- All-Inclusive NaaS: A comprehensive service in which the provider owns, installs, and operates all the hardware and software on behalf of the client, who pays a subscription fee for this service.
At its core, NaaS is a network virtualization technology. To the user, all the network functions they perceive are abstracted or decoupled from the underlying physical hardware that supports them. In this sense, many of the network connectivity services that traditional telecommunications providers offer may be considered NaaS. In addition, some of the newer Network as a Service providers are offering Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and other NaaS options built on the infrastructure of public cloud providers.
Advantages of Implementing NaaS
Organizations that choose NaaS can do away with the capital and recurring expenditure associated with buying, installing, and maintaining network hardware and software. The Network as a Service provider assumes responsibility for these tasks. This enables clients of NaaS to get their network deployments up and running quickly. They also benefit from the expertise and experience of seasoned networking professionals (the NaaS providers) during the network planning and implementation phases.
Since Network as a Service providers operate in a competitive market, they are much more likely to access the latest networking technologies and techniques -- which they pass on to their NaaS clients. The upgrade and refreshing of equipment and software to the latest models helps keep client networks operating at peak efficiency. Service providers can perform upgrades with minimal downtime. On-demand or menu-based network configurations enable NaaS clients to scale their deployments up or down in response to changing conditions and the growth or contraction of their enterprise.
Some Challenges to Overcome
Visibility and control over security and compliance issues can be a challenge to NaaS deployment. By necessity, a certain level of security control must reside with the service provider. This can make comprehensive monitoring and auditing of the network somewhat problematic.
A key challenge to NaaS is that there needs to be a network source of truth in place before networks can be instantiated or activated quickly. Such a source of truth allows the orchestrators responsible for network automation to instantly retrieve network information, configurations, and other relevant data. In addition, these resources must be accessible through an Application Programming Interface (API) to be utilized in the process.
Providing Automation and a Network Source of Truth
As cloud edges, public clouds, private 5G, and the Internet of Things make their way to the mainstream, the network infrastructure is becoming too complicated and mission-critical to continue to be managed manually. Eliminating manual management is where FusionLayer Infinity comes in.
FusionLayer Infinity is the world's first Software-Defined IP Address Management (SD-IPAM) solution; designed for next-generation business infrastructures. It provides a single source of truth for all network information so that orchestrators gain real-time access to network data and policies. This Network Source of Truth includes logical networks, VLANs, VRFs, NATs, and more. FusionLayer defines a simple methodology for successful automation:
- Identify the operational processes that provide the highest Return On Investment (ROI) when automated.
- Document the existing processes to ensure that all bases are covered. Remember that you can only automate what you control.
- Elaborate the existing processes with the engineering teams that run the show. Remember that automation can only be successful when the process and the people involved are known.
- Automate well-defined processes by implementing the rules in your network orchestrator. Remember that without a network source of truth, your orchestrators have no data source.
Get in touch with us if you'd like to learn more about how FusionLayer automation can enhance your Network as a Service (NaaS) deployment.