Enabling Automation with Network as a Service (NaaS) and API Management

Friday October 27, 2023



In association with Deutsche Telekom (DT), Ericsson has recently entered into a partnership to offer communications and network APIs to application developers and enterprises. The idea is to develop a global platform that can expose advanced 5G capabilities such as Quality on Demand, speed, latency, and location, through easy-to-consume network APIs.

With a large global installed base of a common network platform, application developers should be able to leverage the network API capabilities they create in any network that runs a given network platform “flavor” – which in turn would create an ecosystem for applications that leverage not just AI, but also programmable network capabilities.

This approach plays into the current trend toward programmable networks, network APIs, and Networks as a Service (NaaS). Using such technologies and platforms could empower developers and enterprises to integrate network features into their applications, accelerating digital transformation, and creating new ways for operators to monetize their network investments.

In this article, we’ll look at how Network as a Service (NaaS) and strategic API management can help turn this vision into reality.

What is Network as a Service (NaaS)? 

Network as a Service (NaaS) is a cloud service deployment model that enables subscribers to rent networking services from a cloud vendor, rather than having to set up their own network infrastructure.

NaaS vendors provide networking functions through software, enabling businesses to set up networks without hardware. The only critical requirement is a connection to the internet.

 In this way, Network as a Service can replace virtual private networks (VPNs), multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections, and other legacy network configurations. NaaS also serves as an alternative to on-premise networking hardware such as firewall appliances and load balancers. 

How NaaS Benefits Enterprises and Facilitates Automation

With cloud services making network changes through software rather than hardware, NaaS enables IT teams to reconfigure corporate networks on demand, and with greater flexibility. The ability to purchase more capacity from a NaaS vendor as needed (instead of buying, installing, and configuring new hardware) gives enterprises greater ability to scale their networks in line with changing conditions.

A properly configured Network as a Service platform can enable users to access the network from any location and on any device, without the need to route and reroute through corporate VPNs. With a single NaaS provider offering both networking services and security services, subscribers can achieve tighter integration between networks and network security and impose robust access controls. 

NaaS can also provide significant cost savings. Network as a Service enables businesses to align their costs with actual usage. Organizations can consume network infrastructure through flexible operating expense (OpEx) subscriptions that include hardware, software, management tools, licenses, and lifecycle services.

In addition, Network as a Service automates multiple processes (such as onboarding new users) and provides orchestration and optimization for maximum performance. Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities enable NaaS providers to route application traffic in a way that ensures constant connectivity, and the same user experience as if applications are hosted in-house. 

How an Effective API Management Strategy also Benefits the Enterprise 

Application Programming Interface or API tools and libraries enable diverse systems to interact and exchange information, without the need to specifically code each transaction. APIs promote interoperability and ease of use, leading to their enthusiastic adoption by enterprises. 

In fact,  the average enterprise now uses up to 500 APIs, which can make it challenging to maintain and operate APIs of different functions, use cases, and requirements. However, with an effective management strategy, organizations can readily gain visibility and access to the existing APIs in their ecosystem.

With this knowledge, enterprise developers can recognize which APIs to reuse as building blocks for common or repetitive functions. This approach promotes developer productivity, helps reduce costs, and opens up the business, its partners, and customers to new possibilities for innovation.

 The Importance of a Single Source of Truth

Initiatives like the Ericsson-Deutsche Telekom drive to create a global communications and network API platform recognize the importance of such a well-managed API ecosystem. With a standardized and managed system of network APIs, developers and enterprises will get easy access to the advanced capabilities of the network to develop entirely new use cases.

In this vision, having a single source of APIs in a developer-friendly portal helps in creating an API ecosystem that increases the visibility, reusability, and engagement of valuable resources.

A single source of truth is also an important factor in facilitating network resource management and automation. This is especially relevant as Edge Cloud used to run AI-enabled next-generation apps gains momentum – leading to increased network complexity. This in turn will lead to network automation, and those automation capabilities will be sold as a service to customers.

FusionLayer believes that the decentralized business infrastructure of tomorrow will be based on fast 5G connectivity and multi-access edge clouds that process data using Artificial Intelligence.

As part of this emerging ecosystem, FusionLayer provides patented Network Source of Truth and IP addressing solutions that lay out the automation bedrock for the network functions, intelligent devices, and business applications that connect through the next-generation edge clouds.

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