What Is Network-As-A-Service?

By now, you're likely familiar with the software-as-a-service (SaaS) concept. With SaaS, software is hosted online rather than on your company's server or your personal computer. Instead of paying for expensive software outright, you subscribe to it on a pay-as-you basis, typically for a low monthly amount. Instead of accessing it from your hard disk, you access the software online.

Like its software-as-a-service sibling, network-as-a-service (NaaS) is a pay-as-you-go, cloud-based service. In this case, an entire network including server and routing equipment, is hosted online. With network-as-a-service, the network resides in the cloud rather than physically in your building. You then subscribe to the service and gain Web-based access to the network.

How Network-as-a-Service Works

Several NaaS models exist including bandwidth on demand (BoD), virtual private network (VPN), and mobile network virtualization models. While the term "cloud" conjures up images of an actual cloud and may imply a non-physical infrastructure, cloud-based services are grounded in large data centers. NaaS service providers typically maintain large data centers where the network infrastructure resides and then grant subscribers access to the infrastructure as needed.

While dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of other subscribers are also served by the service provider, each network acts as a separate entity and data is secured. You can rest easy that other subscribers won't have access to your applications and data (and vice versa) despite the shared environment of a large data center.

The Benefits of Network-as-a-Service

The benefits to subscribers are numerous. Not only does subscribing to NaaS mean you do not need to invest in network infrastructure, it also means that you don't need a technical team to manage the network and troubleshoot issues with MPLS and other protocols. The total cost of ownership is dramatically lower.

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Another cost-related benefit involves the physical space typically required to house servers. With network-as-a-service, you do not need rack space. Plus, you do not need to power the equipment or cool it, further reducing your operating expenses. NaaS can play a role in reducing your company's carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, network-as-a-service providers typically include backup and recovery, updates, maintenance and support, and other value-added services. Some also offer WAN optimization and application acceleration packages or add-ons.

Many organizations are supplementing or completely replacing MPLS with NaaS. Unlike traditional network deployments which can take several months to provision, network-as-a-service can be deployed within hours of signing up. Many NaaS service providers offer trial subscriptions where you can experience the network service and its performance before you commit.

Network-as-a-service plans vary by provider. However, like most cloud-based services, network-as-a-service is typically offered on a subscription basis. It is also highly scalable, allowing you to select a plan that makes sense for your current usage needs and then adjust as your networking needs increase of decrease.

By switching to NaaS, you can reduce your capital expenses, reduce your reliance on internal or external network administrators, and avoid troublesome issues associated with deploying and maintaining a MPLS network. If your company is looking for ways to operate in a greener manner, NaaS can play a part in that too.

Source by Maxwell Pierce

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