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Network as a Service (Naas): An Overview

Posted by Swatantra Kashyap

Network as a Service or NaaS has come as a boon for companies considering to optimize their network infrastructure. NaaS is an on-demand provisioning model that promises efficient enterprise-wide area network services to organizations that do not prefer building their network infrastructure.

NaaS enables companies to achieve greater flexibility in provisioning without re-architecting their network infrastructure while only paying for the networking services they need. The blog post covers all aspects of NaaS including its architecture, service models, features, benefits, and requirements to help you better understand the methodology and see if it fits your business model.

What NaaS Brings to the Table?

NaaS delivers network infrastructure to the consumers, who don’t have a network infrastructure.

Configuring and operating routers and protocols, WAN optimizers and firewalls or software-defined-WAN endpoints is complicated and vital but takes considerable time to get it right. NaaS ensures organizations do not get caught up in this muddle, with a third-party provider handling all these responsibilities and then make them available to enterprise customers. It consistently includes network virtualization using an Open Flow protocol.

In short, NaaS optimizes resources by combining networking and computing resources and presents them as a unified utility system.

Features of NaaS

  • It helps customers to directly access the internet in a secure environment and even runs custom routing protocols.
  • It delivers network services to the customer via a virtualized network. This enables the customer to focus on important business proceedings and not worry about infrastructure management.
  • It provides customers with a virtual environment, which ultimately helps them lower their OpEx, for they no longer have to spend on the hardware and its maintenance.
  • It enables customers to remotely access the data from anywhere at any time using a stable internet connection.

Benefits of NaaS

  • It helps lower the maintenance time and cost of the infrastructure and the related commitments, helping the business prosper.
  • It benefits the customers by providing a guaranteed uptime to a specific location, which is one of the primary business concerns.
  • It provides SD-WAN technologies that are necessary for internet connectivity, as they provide an easy-to-use multiple network links.
  • Through SD-WAN technology, NaaS also helps overcome traffic engineering issues for applications like VoIP.
  • SD-WAN also contributes to the deployment and management of network through NaaS.

Requirements of NaaS

  • The major requirement of NaaS is integrating it with the current data center hardware, as the existing data center involves a noteworthy commodity networking equipment that significantly lowers the cost of large data center deployments.
  • NaaS should expose a high-level natural programming model but not the overall complexity of physical network topology in the data center.
  • NaaS should support the various applications that run concurrently unaware of each other. This is known as scalability and multi-tenancy isolation.

NaaS Architecture

In the NaaS architecture, the network devices in NaaS are responsible for executing tenant code and the component responsible for the same is the NaaS box. NaaS architecture segregates the management, control, and data plane, which eases the deployment of network services. The NaaS box is also called a Virtual Service Controller (VSC). The management plane comprising the Virtual Service Directories (VSD) allows the administrators to save the configuration/ templates for VSC. NaaS boxes can either be integrated into the same switch hardware or be implemented as a different device connected via high-bandwidth links. These boxes host in-network processing elements that can perform application-specific processing of the packets traveling through them.

NaaS Service Models

  • Bandwidth-on-Demand
  • Virtual Private Network
  • Mobile Network Virtualization

Bandwidth-on-Demand

It is a technique of assigning additional capacity, totally dependent on the requirement between different links and users. It is meant to accommodate bursts in data traffic, video conference, or other bandwidth-heavy special requirements. The charges are adjusted to the traffic demands of the nodes connected to the links.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

It integrates the users with a private network like public internet and the other resources that exist in a network. In VPN, the host can transmit and receive data, across the private and shared network while adhering with the policies and functions of the private network.

Mobile Network Virtualization (MNV)

In MNV, the network operator creates and manages the network and sells the software to a third-party. NaaS includes scalability, bandwidth on demand, security firewall, multicast protocols, intrusion detection and prevention, WAN, VPN, custom routing, content monitoring and filtering.

A majority of NaaS providers concentrate on specific areas, such as simple & secure configuration & connectivity, along with offering services to mobile and temporary locations. This is benefiting small and midsize businesses as well as those who have no previous investment in WAN. NaaS is preferred more over traditional networks because it eliminates capital and hardware investment and is economical, for it reduces the workforce requirement along with the burden on them.

Conclusion

The gradual increase of network requirement of software has forced customers to look for alternatives than using hardware switches and nodes to drive network activity. Thus, most customers have started using virtual networks. NaaS is one of the most exciting new IT choices for corporates to try while limiting the dependencies on engineers and building physical hardware setups.

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