March 19, 2021

The network is now a service, and it’s worth a good look

Paula Fountain
National Practice Manager - HP and HPE, Data#3 Limited
Not too long ago, a huge piece of IT’s budget was swallowed by the in-house procurement and maintenance of infrastructure. Costs soon began to slide with the arrival of cloud computing and its ability to offload these burdens to public cloud services – which can now be considered the beginning of mass virtualisation.

Today, cloud computing has well and truly reached mainstream adoption, with businesses finding appeal in the flexible, “as a Service” consumption model for everything from software to infrastructure to platforms.

Despite the shift from ownership to consumption-as-needed, the major delivery vehicle of the cloud – the network – hasn’t before been “as a Service”. However, this is all changing with the emergence of Network as a Service (NaaS) offerings.

The arrival of NaaS

To allow the enterprise to tap into a flexible cloud experience for their network, innovative providers have been increasing the scope and utility of the “as a service” networking consumption model. As a result, 3 key segments of NaaS have emerged.

Enterprise NaaS

This model conveniently nestles everything into a holistic offering covering hardware, software, licensing and support services – including managed services – delivered in a flexible consumption or subscription-based offering.

IaaS Networking Services

IaaS providers – such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud – host infrastructure networking components including servers and virtualisation technologies. This is usually self-service, with the organisation responsible for managing and maintaining applications.

Managed NaaS

In this instance, networking hardware and software are sold to an enterprise by a telecom provider or managed services provider (MSP) and delivered “as a service”. Typically, the telco or MSP is responsible for monitoring the customer’s network.

Now these above definitions are important as there seems to be some opposing definitions of NaaS, when looking through the eyes of our customers vs the vendors. Enterprise NaaS is what we’ll focus on for the rest of the blog – it represents the maturing of the Network as a Service offering and is reflective of the “as a Service” solutions that businesses today expect.

The key business drivers for Enterprise NaaS

So, what’s driving all this interest from the enterprise? In short, Enterprise NaaS can relieve numerous demands and pressures while also positioning IT to meet existing and longer-term network needs.

Alleviating “lumpy” upfront spend

Spikes in capital budget spending for network infrastructure has long been challenging IT procurement professionals to find new ways to reduce and control network equipment, support and maintenance expenses.

The challenge of a growing network footprint

The rapid pace of change means the network must support more users, devices, and “things” than ever before. The rise of bandwidth-hungry applications, widespread remote working and the expectation of always-reliable network connections has only added to the complexity.

Inability to unlock network intelligence

A lack of visibility into network and application performance hinders IT team’s ability to identify and remediate potential threats within the environment.

Redistribution of resources

Every minute spent on the network, troubleshooting and optimising, takes time away from more valuable initiatives that could better support broader enterprise goals.

This is where NaaS comes in, solving these common network pain points. There are plenty of other benefits over traditional models too, including:

  • timely access to new technology with frictionless refresh and renewals
  • simplified network deployment and management
  • improved refresh cycles, and
  • the surety that asset usage is tightly aligned with budget.

Perhaps the best way to understand NaaS is to look at one of the leading NaaS solutions. Undoubtedly, one of the most comprehensive and flexible NaaS offerings on the market is from Aruba.

NaaS by Aruba combines Aruba products and services into a complete Network as a Service solution. It’s an evolution of Aruba’s HPE GreenLake service which has already helped customers to reduce their global IT project deployment time by 75%, whilst upping IT productivity by 40%2.

Similarly, IDC revealed HPE GreenLake has allowed customers to reduce the time spent “keeping the lights on” by 44%3, freeing those people to concentrate on areas with more business impact. In other words, it’s pretty powerful stuff.

What makes NaaS possible?

With over two decades of innovation in intelligent edge solutions, Aruba have funnelled it all into the products and services now available “as a Service”.

Its innate flexibility means customers can consume any or all parts of Aruba’s Edge Services Platform (ESP) and Artificial Intelligence Operations (AIOps) architecture in their package – all within a predictable, pay-as-you-go model.

Depending on what you need, Aruba’s NaaS offering can alleviate workloads across many day-to-day network connectivity services and data analytics tasks with:

  • Fast guided onboarding
  • Proactive and predictive network operations
  • Automated change management
  • Frictionless expansion and equipment refreshes
  • Live 24×7 monitoring and proactive remediation
  • Zero-ticket, zero downtime experience
  • Flexibility to avoid major CAPEX purchase spikes and provisioning gaps
  • A portal for insights and visibility into your network
  • Customer Experience Management with Aruba Service Manager for insights and reporting
  • Expanded network utilisation to enable new business apps and expand edge workloads
  • Optimise TCO with a single predictable monthly payment

By making all of these capabilities available, Aruba’s NaaS is a compelling option for businesses looking to tap into market-leading network innovations and dial up their network capabilities – all whilst achieving complete financial flexibility.

We firmly believe that the enterprise cannot reach its full potential if the network doesn’t keep up, and NaaS is an emerging solution that warrants a serious look in.

1. IDC’s NaaS Survey. (2020). Sponsored by Aruba.
2. Forrester Research. 2020.  The Total Economic Impact™ Of HPE GreenLake
3. IDC Whitepaper. (September, 2017). Sponsored by HPE, Business Value Enabled by HPE Datacenter Care Service.
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