Networks over time have become more complex, even as the need for seamless connectivity with numerous data centers, clouds, edge networks, and IoT devices has grown. With digital transformation requiring that IT be more flexible than ever before, the ability to provision, allocate, and acquire network resources on an on-demand basis has become an urgent need. All this and modern networks must be secure, adaptable, and responsive to shifting and intermittent demand.
Network as a Service (NaaS) can offer all of these benefits in a private, segmented network that is isolated from many hacker attack vectors and enables quick turnup of network connectivity among business partners, customers, various clouds, and more. NaaS is a natural extension of the everything-as-a-service economy across software, platform, and infrastructure as a service (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, respectively), making it an excellent, future-facing solution for IT organizations.
NaaS can provide API and SDK control so networks can be provisioned and scaled programmatically, while possessing an intuitive web portal that provides a holistic view and control of the entire network. It further leverages virtualization, automation, economies of scale, and domain expertise to offer an alternative for enterprises that don’t want to build or manage their own network, making modern multi-cloud connectivity possible. Ultimately, NaaS allows an organization to focus on its core competency while leaving the networking, security, and related functions to a provider whose mission is delivering secure network services for others.
NaaS can be procured from a variety of vendors such as those sometimes defined as “middle mile.” These vendors operate the network infrastructure that exists between the broader Internet—including those run by network service providers and telecom carriers—and the “last mile” links to individual businesses and residences. Middle-mile vendors provide overlapping and evolving services that include software-defined interconnection (SDI), software-defined cloud interconnection (SDCI), and software-defined interconnect (SD-IX).
In addition, NaaS can be provided by data center operators, software-defined-perimeter (SDP) vendors, managed software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) providers, and finally traditional communications carriers (often using SD-WAN technology themselves). For a look at unmanaged DIY SD-WAN options, check out the GigaOm Radar for SD-WAN report, also available from GigaOm.
The term network-on-demand (NoD) can be used synonymously with NaaS. Both terms refer to networks that are software defined and can be programmatically altered. They also possess centralized administration tools and have the ability to quickly turn services up and tear them down.
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