Creating a resilient Network thanks to As-a-Service, or NaaS
For many businesses, flexibility has always been seen as a “nice to have” – often being considered as more of an additional competitive advantage rather than a pillar of the corporate agenda. But fast forward to the present day and flexibility has become synonymous with a business’s ability to survive, which is why Network-as-a-service (or NaaS) has been in the limelight recently, experiencing heightening demand.
Remote, distributed workforces have become the norm as more and more organizations implement some form of hybrid working. Yet it is these ever more hybrid workforces that are creating issues for IT teams and their business’ security. Both are under increasing pressure to ensure that their respective networks remain reliable, secure, scalable, and compliant with the latest regulations. All in all, the resilience of a network has never been quite as important as it is now.
Research by Deloitte found that these new demands on networks have become the key driving force behind the need for more flexible consumption models from IT services providers. Their findings highlighted that the pandemic accelerated the shift towards as-a-service offerings with 75% of IT leaders surveyed reporting that they were running half of their enterprise IT-as-a-service. The report summarised that “XaaS seems to have won enterprises’ hearts, minds and wallets”.
Recent research by Aruba on the topic of as-a-service models highlighted a surge toward NaaS. But why exactly are businesses looking into NaaS? Fortunately, we have some hints as to why NaaS may well become the consumption model of choice for many.
The NaaS Paradigm
In the post-pandemic world, digital transformation is drawing IT leaders towards ever more agile and adaptable network models. Businesses are prioritizing scale and better alignment between their network and business needs – access to new technology has been a major driving force behind this investment, with 72% of IT leaders across EMEA naming it as one of their top four priorities.
But this move will require IT staff that is equipped to oversee these changes as well as a network that can handle and enable them. This is where NaaS comes in.
Of those IT leaders, 100% were already familiar with NaaS as a concept while, perhaps more notably, 86% of companies are already actively discussing it in some capacity. In our opinion, it’s easy to see why they might be…
A major driving force behind the increase in conversations around NaaS has been the move towards hybrid working. More than ever organizations need to be flexible to scale their network based on immediate business needs – so much so that 75% of IT leaders stated this as a key reason for their interest in the model.
This growing appetite is also based on the view that NaaS will ultimately free up the time and capacity of IT teams to focus on more innovative and strategic initiatives, alongside reducing operational costs. One of the compelling benefits of NaaS is that it allows companies to operate, as well as manage their network and any associated services without actually having to buy the physical infrastructure. For any company that might find itself struggling to keep pace with the ever-changing technologies, NaaS could very well be a cost-effective and viable solution.
With budgets across organizations having been strained over the past two years, NaaS delivery via subscription through the cloud offers not just a high level of choice in regard to services, pricing, availability, and features but also allows enterprises to approach their infrastructure as simply an operational expense.
Any surge in userbase or demand can be easily managed, businesses can easily scale up their network resources to meet new demand. Fundamentally, NaaS enables organizations to pivot quickly and easily based on what their customers and employees need or want – certainly an absolute requirement for the next decade.e
Alongside flexibility, security has also been a factor in the increasing appetite for NaaS, with 65% of IT leaders believing that it will help enhance their security capabilities.
It’s true, NaaS is a good way to ensure closer integration between network resources and security. With the outsourcing component of NaaS, coupled with finding the right and appropriate provider/s, companies can simply offload their security to firms that specialize in NaaS services and are likely more secure because of this. Consequentially, IT teams will no longer have to use outdated hardware and network management tools – rather it is up to the NaaS provider to ensure their solutions are as up to date as possible.
Conversely, by the very nature of NaaS, it is possible for a single provider to not only offer networking services but also security services such as firewalls. For any business struggling to keep pace with cyberthreats, the move to NaaS could very well ensure their security. As outlined though, this will require finding a provider that combines both, some companies may prefer to contract different companies for each.
Despite some clear benefits, there remain barriers to implementing NaaS. Firstly, it may be a widely recognized concept but only two in five technology leaders truly understand NaaS as a concept. Making it all the more unsurprising that only 11% of leaders see it as an established and viable option for their businesses today.
While NaaS can provide lower costs to entry and a great degree of flexibility for businesses, as well as allow them to adapt based on their needs and free up IT staff time, for these benefits to be actualized, the gap between awareness and knowledge needs to be tackled. For any CTO, this is the next discussion to be had.
Article contributed by Simon Wilson, Chief Technology Officer at Aruba UK&I
2 December 2022