Cloud-based Network as a Service, or NaaS, presents a unique opportunity for channel professionals to set up efficient and affordable networks for SMB customers. By Martin Sinderman
March 05, 2012
Cloud-based Network as a Service, or NaaS, presents a unique opportunity for channel professionals to set up efficient and affordable networks for SMB customers.
By Martin Sinderman
As cloud-based computing services continue to grow, the latest ingredient in the virtual alphabet soup of “as a service” acronyms is Network as a Service, also known as NaaS. And as you might expect, the NaaS operational model closely resembles the pay-as-you-go paradigm of Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).
With NaaS, the network exists in the cloud, with carriers providing access and delivering networking services over the Internet to their customers on a subscription basis. This Web-based access to network infrastructure and services provides customers with an easy way to get a network up and running, as well as avoid expenditures for on-site networking hardware.
Early last year, for example, San Francisco-based cloud networking services provider Meraki Inc. announced its version of a NaaS pay-as-you-go pricing model for its cloud-managed network infrastructure products. A statement from the company cited a number of benefits, including elimination of up-front capital expense, options to upgrade hardware at no cost, and “removal of the financial risk of owning too much infrastructure.”
The NaaS model includes cloud-based, value-added services such as application acceleration, security measures, and mobile device management, according to Liza Adams, vice president of marketing for Virtela Technology Services Inc., a Greenwood Village, Colo.-based managed network, security, and cloud services company.
The functionality of cloud-based services is feeding growth in the implementation of the NaaS model, Adams notes. “Being cloud-based, NaaS makes network deployment easier, faster, and more cost-effective, because it doesn’t require the installation of hardware,” she says. NaaS-modeled networks are also easier to manage, she says, “because they do not have all the complexity that comes with a more traditional implementation.”
From a technical standpoint, “NaaS is derived from the concept of decoupling hardware and software,” says Marshall Bartoszek, principal analyst for ACG Research, a telecom business consulting and business services company. But NaaS is still evolving, Bartoszek adds. He recommends that channel pros and others wanting to stay ahead of the curve join the Open Networking Foundation as members, or monitor the group’s activity. The Open Networking Foundation, founded in 2011 by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo, promotes software-defined networking standards and solutions.
Meanwhile, growth in NaaS is creating business opportunities for VARs and other channel pros working in the SMB space, says Adams. Packaging NaaS subscription sales with a variety of value-added services “can open up new ways for [IT pros] to penetrate different target audiences,” she notes. Meanwhile, she says adding these layers of service makes NaaS a “sticky” product offering that helps maintain existing business, “because providing multiple services results in better customer retention.”