In the ever-evolving world of networking, the demand for advanced cybersecurity solutions and flexible network services is at an all-time high. Traditional network security tools, like firewalls, are no longer sufficient to combat the multifaceted challenges presented by the modern threat landscape. This article explores the dynamic landscape of Network as a Service (NaaS) offerings provided by a variety of vendors, each catering to distinct needs and preferences.
Understanding the Essence of NaaS
The concept of NaaS may seem fluid, but it represents a fundamental shift in the way organizations procure, manage, and optimize their network infrastructure. NaaS is more than just a pay-as-you-go or subscription-based model for networking gear; it’s a holistic approach that addresses the evolving challenges faced by network executives in a multicloud world.
According to IDC analyst Brandon Butler, NaaS is a cloud-enabled, usage-based consumption model that empowers users to acquire and orchestrate network capabilities without the burdens of owning or maintaining infrastructure. This innovative approach can encompass various network elements, including LANs, WANs, VPNs, data centers, and even hybrid-cloud environments. NaaS offers the agility needed to scale up or down rapidly, deploy new services, and strike the right balance between capital and operational expenditure.
The Essential Elements of a Comprehensive NaaS Offering
A complete NaaS offering consists of several critical components. It begins with a highly scalable cloud-native architecture that forms the backbone of the service. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) capabilities play pivotal roles in ensuring self-healing, observability, and assurance. This architectural approach enables tailored performance optimization for specific workloads, guaranteeing a quality of service. Moreover, NaaS enhances IT agility and resource management, aligning infrastructure expenses with operational costs.
Exploring NaaS Providers by Category
The world of Network as a Service (NaaS) providers is a dynamic landscape, offering a diverse range of solutions tailored to meet the evolving needs of organizations. These providers can be categorized into Four distinct Vendors, each bringing its own unique set of services and advantages.
- HPE-Aruba: HPE-Aruba’s GreenLake NaaS is a game-changer in simplifying network consumption. It offers pre-configured service packs that encompass various networking aspects, making it easier for organizations to adopt. This subscription-based model not only includes hardware but also software and services. What sets it apart is its scalability, allowing businesses to adjust their network resources according to their needs. It even takes care of automatic hardware refreshes, ensuring that your infrastructure stays up to date. Moreover, the option for remote management adds an extra layer of convenience.
- Juniper Networks: Juniper Networks takes NaaS to the next level by leveraging a cloud-based AIOps platform. This platform is designed for managing a wide spectrum of network components, from wired networks to wireless deployments and SD-WAN. What’s exciting for customers is the flexibility it offers. You can choose between Managed Service Provider (MSP) assistance or take on self-management. Regardless of your choice, you benefit from invaluable insights, automation capabilities, and integrated security, all from a single portal.
- Dell: Dell’s APEX NaaS brings an extensive portfolio of resources into the NaaS fold. It covers everything from storage to data security and compute resources. This comprehensive offering empowers companies to gain greater control over their data. One of its standout features is the ability to bridge the gap between the agility of public cloud services and the control of private cloud environments. Dell’s approach empowers businesses to protect against cyber threats, meet data privacy regulations, and enhance incident response through a unified NaaS platform.
- Cisco: Cisco is on a journey to bring NaaS to its entire portfolio. Notable offerings include Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud and Cisco+ Secure Connect. These services are gradually expanding the NaaS model, encompassing elements like SD-WAN, Zero Trust Network Access, and observability. By providing a comprehensive suite of NaaS services, Cisco aims to empower businesses to optimize their network infrastructure for enhanced security, performance, and observability.
- Verizon: Verizon is capitalizing on its extensive global network and managed-service expertise to offer NaaS solutions. These encompass managed SD-WAN, VoIP, and security services. What makes Verizon’s approach stand out is its modular, scalable, and pay-per-usage format. It operates on a modernized, programmable network, delivering services with agility and resilience. This not only enhances performance but also streamlines operations, eliminates hardware upgrade costs, and empowers businesses to transform their operations effectively.
- Lumen Technologies: Lumen takes NaaS to a new level by offering self-service provisioning of WAN connectivity. Customers have the flexibility to pay by the hour or opt for monthly rates, allowing them to tailor their network expenses to their varying workloads. This approach is a game-changer in managing WAN traffic effectively, especially in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. Lumen’s dynamic approach to boosting WAN capacity ensures businesses can meet seasonal spikes in demand while optimizing network performance.
- Google: Google’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) services are built on a global infrastructure, offering fine-grained control over networking policies. This includes IP address ranges, firewalls, cloud VPNs, and cloud routers. Additional services like DNS, load balancing, content delivery networks, IDS, NAT, DDoS protection, and web-application firewall add to the robustness of Google’s NaaS offerings. The flexibility to choose different service tiers enables businesses to optimize network costs while ensuring top-tier performance for high-priority applications.
- Microsoft: Azure Virtual WAN introduces a hub-and-spoke architecture for NaaS, enhancing connectivity, security, and routing on the Azure backbone. This versatile service offers connectivity for branch offices and remote users, including SD-WAN links and VPN gateways. It also provides security services such as Azure firewall and options for virtual routing. Microsoft’s collaborative approach with third-party vendors further enhances ease of use and integration, empowering businesses to leverage the Azure environment for their networking needs.
WAN Transport Providers
- Graphiant: Startup Graphiant is revolutionizing NaaS by introducing network-edge connectivity services over its private network. This challenges the limitations of traditional MPLS and public Internet-based SD-WAN solutions. Graphiant’s platform leverages Vector Packet Processing (VPP) technology to ensure end-to-end encryption and optimized performance. The platform allows customers to connect their locations seamlessly, and with routing managed by a multi-tenant stateless core, it offers unparalleled flexibility and ease of use. Whether it’s for faster deployment, scaling network resources, or improving security, Graphiant’s NaaS solution is designed to meet the evolving demands of businesses.
- Megaport – Middleman to the cloud: Megaport serves as a pivotal intermediary in the realm of Network as a Service (NaaS). This innovative vendor collaborates closely with hyperscalers, colocation providers, and SD-WAN/SASE vendors, including industry giant Cisco. Together, they provide a powerful solution known as a Software-Defined Cloud Interconnect (SDCI). Megaport’s role in this partnership is to facilitate seamless and efficient connections between various clouds, making it easier for businesses to access and manage their multi-cloud environments. This strategic collaboration simplifies the complexities of cloud networking and enhances the overall cloud experience for enterprises.
The Future of NaaS
As NaaS continues to evolve, the networking landscape will witness even more transformative changes. APIs will play a central role in automating network fabric, dynamically adapting to preferences, and responding to real-time application demands.
In conclusion, the NaaS market is a dynamic ecosystem where providers from various backgrounds are striving to meet the diverse needs of organizations. Understanding the offerings from networking vendors, telcos, hyperscalers, and WAN transport providers is essential for businesses looking to optimize their networking infrastructure in a rapidly changing digital world.