Servers were an early target of virtualization. Then applications went virtual via software-as-a-service(SaaS), and storage and compute became available virtually. It makes sense, then, that networking would eventually follow the trend. But network-as-a-service (NaaS) poses problems that the others never faced.
It is impossible to replace on-site networking cabling and connections with cloud services. Regardless of the NaaS solution, the consuming company still requires physical internet and telephony connections to contact the cloud.
There are plenty of NaaS variants out there. They range from mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) replacement, wide-area networking (WAN) connectivity, data center connectivity via software-defined networking, bandwidth on demand, various network security services, content delivery networks, software-defined virtual private networks (VPNs), SD-WAN, SASE (Secure Access Service Edge), WAN Optimization-as-a-Service, and many other network-related applications.
Those providing such services range from the cloud crowd (Amazon, Rackspace, etc.), major telephony providers (AT&T, Level 3 Communications, Telefonica, Verizon), as well as many niche vendors.
NaaS Providers for Enterprise Networks:
- Aryaka SmartServices
- Perimeter 81
- Cloudflare Magic WAN
- Cisco Plus NaaS
- Akamai Aura Managed CDN
- Megaport MCR
- Amdocs NaaS
- Palo Alto Prisma
What is NaaS?
NaaS means different things to different people. In essence, it is an umbrella term to describe some kind of a network consumption model, where the service is managed (or co-managed) by a managed service provider (MSP) or telco and is based on OpEx versus CapEx, much like the cloud consumption model.
The potential of NaaS is in the fact that many of the hot startups in NaaS from five years ago have been snapped up by larger players. Yet, NaaS remains a nascent market. However, the entry of Cisco into this space signals that we may be moving from the early adopter to the mainstream stage of deployment.
How to Select NaaS Services
The benefits of NaaS are clear. Why purchase, deploy, configure, and maintain your own networking hardware and software on site when you can hand most of it off to someone else? Selecting the right service involves a number of factors:
- Closely define the service needed. There are a great many varieties of NaaS. To avoid getting sidetracked during product selection, IT is advised to closely define requirements and to zero in only on those vendors that fit the bill.
- Compatibility. The subject of compatibility goes beyond the usual aspect of ensuring the new software or services support your existing environment. In addition, take into account networking interoperability factors such as availability of APIs, internet standards such as MPLS and IP, and other applicable standards.
- Adherence to software-defined networking (SDN). The virtualization of networking is largely being done in accordance with SDN. Therefore, gravitate toward services that adhere to SDN principles.
Top Networking-as-a-Service Providers
Enterprise Networking Planet reviewed multiple NaaS services to come up with the list of the top providers. This list focuses on service providers with a good track record in the marketplace.
Aryaka offers a managed networking and security service based on SD-WAN and SASE architectures for global and regional deployments. The service is based on an OpEx-based network consumption model that scales well. It requires minimal training. Aryaka’s SD-WAN-as-a-Service offering allows enterprises to consume network services via its cloud-first network infrastructure.
- A global services point of presence (PoP) footprint
- Dedicated L2 connectivity, a managed networking and security service based on SD-WAN and SASE architectures
- Performance guarantees for applications anywhere in the world
- Works at headquarters, at a branch, or at remote offices
- Integrates regional multi-cloud connectivity to drive application performance
- Provides a range of cloud edge services
- SD-WAN services can be provided anywhere on the world within 48 hours
- Aryaka Network Management Center (ANMC) delivers scalable, multi-tenant automation and orchestration to provision, configure and scale thousands of sites
- Aryaka EagleEye monitoring capabilities include predictive analytics and machine learning
- Aryaka’s global NOCs deliver 24X7 operations ensuring the uptime of enterprise networks.
Perimeter 81’s NaaS service integrates network management and security into local and cloud-based resources such as AWS, Salesforce, Azure, and Google Cloud. This cloud native NaaS includes an array of security tools for authentication, Wi-Fi security, zero trust, DNS filtering, and breach prevention. It helps to lower network latency by placing network resources closer to where they’re required.
- Multi-regional support: Private gateways can be deployed in different locations to ensure the network can best serve international branches and employees with reduced latency and optimal speed.
- Split tunneling: IT managers can control whether they tunnel all their network traffic, or specific subnets, from the client applications to the network-as-a-service.
- Use either a connector to interconnect their Cloud and on-premises environments, or an IPsec site-to-site tunnel to create a secure communication link between two different networks located at different sites.
- User, group and group profile creation: Team members can be added and groups can be created to segment network access.
- Administrators can establish configurations based on roles, devices, locations, and operating systems.
- Create specific access policies and enforce the use of security measures such as single sign-on integration and two-factor authentication.
- Encrypts all data and traffic sent over the network.
- Enables zero trust access policy based on qualifiers such as user role, device, and location.
Cloudflare Magic WAN
Cloudflare Magic WAN can replace legacy WAN architectures with Cloudflare’s network, providing global connectivity, cloud-based security, performance, and control through one interface. It securely connects any traffic source including data centers, offices, devices, and cloud properties to Cloudflare’s network. Users can configure public and private routing policies to get traffic where it needs to go.
- Partnerships with network on-ramp providers including VMware and Aruba as well as data center providers such as Digital Realty, CoreSite, and EdgeConneX to help businesses move their network to the cloud with existing hardware.
- The Magic WAN configuration lives on every server within every data center at Cloudflare’s edge.
- Service available at more than 200 cities around the world.
- Broad geographical distribution of edge sites provides performance and resiliency not offered from other NaaS providers.
- Use whatever hardware you have to connect to Cloudflare.
Cisco Plus NaaS
It makes sense that Cisco would make a play to become the big kahuna in NaaS. After all, the company has dominated on-premise networking for decades. Its Cisco Plus brand encompasses a variety of cross-architecture solutions designed to be delivered as-a-service. At the moment, these represent a patchwork of tools with unified subscriptions, but that is changing fast. Expect a unified suite soon.
Cisco Plus Naas includes intelligence from AI-driven insights and automation to drive performance and cost optimization. Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud, for example, delivers data center networking, compute, and storage technologies in a consumption model. Cisco only recently launched this platform and it is still in its early stages, but the competition will be paying attention.
- Scale up and down as needs change
- Cisco’s SASE architecture converges networking and security in the cloud
- End-to-end observability from the user to the application, over any cloud and any network
- Data center networking with further NaaS flavors include bare metal compute, edge, VDI, and virtualization.
Akamai Aura Managed CDN
Akamai focuses on Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) that are widely used to improve delivery of internet traffic around the world. Akamai offers a highly distributed platform of servers that responds directly to end user requests for web content. It acts as an intermediary between a content server and end users or clients. Akamai Aura Managed CDN is a SaaS version of the company’s flagship CDN solution. These managed CDN services include the ability for users to provide video streaming services and optimize their network for content delivery, while reducing deployment time and upfront costs.
- Offers premium subscription content to many devices with multi-format HTTP video delivery via the operator network to any connected network.
- Reduce complexity with a turnkey CDN solution that is maintained and monitored 24/7 by Akamai.
- Extend online video libraries, accelerating web content, and streaming to any device.
- Reduce costs by managing a single CDN infrastructure, offloading and controlling OTT traffic, and by eliminating hardware.
- Operators can also interconnect, or federate, the Aura Managed CDN with the global Akamai Intelligent Platform to provide CDN reach beyond their own network footprint.
- Aura Operator Portal provides network operators with an analytics and reporting portal used to monitor the performance and behavior.
Megaport Cloud Router (MCR) provides virtual routing capabilities for on-demand private connectivity at Layer 3. It is preconfigured in data centers in key routing zones around the world, enabling data transfer. Without the need for physical infrastructure, users can leverage cloud-to-cloud networking, private peering between cloud providers. MCR instances are preconfigured in data centers in key global routing zones.
- Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments
- Network service providers
- Cloud service providers
- Direct connectivity to any provider on the Megaport Software Defined Network
- No need to own or maintain equipment and no IP address or autonomous system numbers to procure
- Reduced latencies by enabling direct connections among cloud providers
- Inter-region or inter-cloud connectivity to control and localize traffic
- Speed tiers from 1 to 10 Gbps.
Amdocs’ programmable NaaS automates and orchestrates the design, ordering, and management of network services. Its Network Function Virtualization (NFV) SD-WAN package enables MSPs to deliver managed SD-WAN services, as well as Virtual Network Function (VNF) service chaining and other network resources required to operate the service. A service order decomposition function decomposes orders into service items used by the NFV orchestrator, which utilizes the plugin interfaces to communicate with the SD-WAN service building blocks. The company focuses on providing SD-WAN service to MSPs, not in providing it directly to enterprises.
- Ready-to-deploy, multi-vendor and multi-domain pre-integrated orchestration
- Vendor agnostic
- Carrier-grade availability
- Each microservice constitutes an autonomous functionality and DevOps approach, enabling services to be released in short cycles
- Aligned with the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Definitions technical specification.
Palo Alto Prisma
Palo Alto Networks Prisma helps to simplify management, enable app-defined SD-WAN policies and deliver a secure SD-WAN to branches over the cloud. It combines SD-WAN technology acquired from CloudGenix with Palo Alto’s expertise in networking and security. Use cases include router modernization, cloud migration, and automation of networking operations.
- Deep application visibility
- Intelligent Layer 7 network policies
- Automate operations and problem avoidance using machine learning and data science
- The company claims it can increase bandwidth by 10X and reduce network trouble tickets by 99%
- Reduce costs for cloud-delivered branch security and networking.
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