Networking as a Service (NaaS) is the sale of network services from third parties to customers that don’t want to build their own networking infrastructure.
NaaS packages networking resources, services, and applications as a product that can be purchased for a number of users, usually for a contracted period of time. It can include services such as Wide Area Networking (WAN) connectivity, data-center connectivity, bandwidth on demand (BoD), security services, and other applications.
Many forms of NaaS
Virtualization technology provides the platform for NaaS, which is related to other cloud services. Services are offered by Cloud Service Providers (CSP) in addition to NaaS include Software as a Service (SaaS), a computing platform for developing or hosting applications, known as Platform as a Service (PaaS); or an entire networking or computing infrastructure, known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Cloud services such as NaaS and Paas are provided by building a large, scaleable infrastructure that can be virtualized so that it can be sold to individual customers.
Large Networking as a Service providers includes major CSPs, including Amazon and Rackspace, as well as the global service providers such as AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Telefonica, and Verizon. More recently, niche NaaS providers have emerged in areas such as Software-Defined WAN, which include players such as Aryaka, Cloudgenix, Pertino, and VeloCloud. It also includes specialized network providers such as Akamai, which has its own Content Delivery Network (CDN) for digital media delivery, as well as enterprise SaaS acceleration and security services..
Overall, NaaS applies to a broad set of applications and services. For example, Aryaka and Pertino offer WAN and secure Virtual Private Networks (VPN) as a service, Akamai offers CDN as a service, Amazon offers web-hosting, private cloud, and storage as a service, and many service providers offer BoD and hosted networks as a service. Even entire service providers might outsource their networks, as in the case of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
Standards and SDN to Drive NaaS Growth
One of the challenges of Networking-as-a-Service is developing standards for network interoperability and portability. For example, as customer buying a NaaS service may want to make sure that if the service can be double-sourced or swapped out. In this case the technology would need to be compatible with other platforms or standards. This is where important standards, APIs, and open-source initiatives such as OpenStack come into play. Existing Internet standards developed in the IEEE, such as MPLS and IP are important. The MEF and TM Forum are two standards working on interoperability between carrier NaaS offerings.
Software-defined networking is likely to make Networking- as-a-Service services more prevalent, as service providers look to leverage their hardware infrastructure so that it can be sold as enterprise network services. Virtualization enables the capability to share, market, or sell just about any platform, whether it’s cloud infrastructure, networking, or business applications.