Keep pace with change with Network as a Service (NaaS)

By: Scott Dennehy, Edge Innovation at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Use cases for corporate networks are growing at an historic rate. Hybrid work, advanced computing, the explosion of connected devices, and the constant threat of security breaches have made updating the hardware and software capabilities of the network an almost Herculean task.

Smaller IT budgets and shorter network planning cycles, driven by the impact of COVID-19, further complicate matters. Large capital expenditures for multi-year IT and network plans are now considered too risky by many organizations, making it more difficult for network teams to fund and execute their strategic projects.

At the same time, the speed of business continues to accelerate. Organizations need to be agile to be competitive, and having a network that can consistently drive key business results is essential. But how do we ensure that networks stay up to date and nimble to keep pace with ever increasing business demands? Using Network as a Service, or NaaS, as an alternative way to finance and consume network infrastructure.

How NaaS Ensures the Network Does Not Fall Behind Business Needs

Similar to other models as a service, NaaS provides a way to accelerate the provisioning, deployment and management of network resources. Instead of taking a waterfall development approach by investing significant up-front capital and resources to design, build, and operate network infrastructure, organizations can move towards an agile approach of consuming critical infrastructure services. , by paying only for what they need when they need it, and financing infrastructure in an affordable way that ensures that infrastructure keeps pace with innovation, both in terms of technology and business. business goals. Here are several ways that NaaS can achieve this:

Network budgeting

Initial network equipment purchase models require precise budgeting, which is far from an exact science and often results in organizations overestimating or underestimating costs. Additionally, since the initial capital required can be substantial, this usually means a more complicated, rigorous, and lengthy approval process. NaaS not only simplifies the budgeting process by combining all hardware, software, and services (e.g. support) into one all-inclusive monthly subscription, but it also ensures that upgrades happen when needed. through pay-as-you-go capabilities.

Network planning

Before COVID-19, many organizations had three or even five year network plans and could count on things that had remained relatively unchanged. However, the pandemic has shown how quickly and drastically these plans can be turned upside down – some organizations weren’t prepared for how quickly they needed to shift priorities from the campus network to remote access connectivity for employees or students, and as the economy slowed, some retailers were forced to change their store location strategies. The painful adjustments triggered by the pandemic have made it incredibly difficult for network teams to accurately predict what their needs might be going forward. With NaaS, only active locations and equipment are paid for in the subscription, with additional locations and equipment added on a pay-as-you-go basis. For example, a retailer doesn’t need to guess how many locations will be active over a three or five year period and then budget those locations centrally. Instead, NaaS allows network services to be spent and funded at the store level.

Client experience

One of the many advantages of the model as a service is the ability to easily attribute the cost to consumption. In other words, it’s easy to understand how much of the application or infrastructure is being used, how that usage aligns with the cost of the monthly subscription, and to make any necessary adjustments. This is typically delivered through a vendor’s cloud-based self-service portal / dashboard. In a NaaS model, customers can visualize their entire network environment, adjusting their subscription up or down according to their needs while gaining valuable insight into network inventory, issues / cases known, end of service / end of life or safety. instructions specific to their equipment, etc.

Network operation

As the use cases of network applications increase, the day-to-day processes of network setup, onboarding, device management, troubleshooting, upgrading, resources, and more. are also increasing, putting additional pressure on “lean IT” organizations that are already under strain. For example, keeping up to date with new software releases for all devices on the network is a full-time job in itself. In a NaaS model, the day-to-day management of the network can be outsourced to a third-party vendor so that a network team does not have to worry about fixes, applying new updates, or determining which features apply to the network. their environment. NaaS also automates manual processes like troubleshooting and integration and can even resolve issues before they affect end users through proactive monitoring. This further simplifies operations and allows the network team to spend more time on strategic initiatives to support the business.

NaaS removes financial and resource barriers

The ongoing digital transformation and emerging use cases continue to present financial and resource challenges for networks trying to keep pace with change. While technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) promise to simplify network operations through automation, AI / ML is not a panacea and the challenges of Network planning and budgeting after COVID-19 cannot be solved by technology. By using network as a service, organizations can greatly simplify and speed up the process of provisioning, deploying and managing networks, ensuring that business goals are met.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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