Network-as-a-Service - surpassing connectivity for enterprise revenue growth
Alla Goldner, director of technology, strategy and Innovation at Amdocs discusses the effect of network automation on 5G implementation for enterprise businesses.
Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is a transformative digital business technology approach that is redefining how business users create, consume and adapt connectivity and network capabilities. Service providers can deploy NaaS to streamline internal processes by exposing network services for consumption by the IT department. Externally, NaaS offers enterprise customers the option to purchase network resources and connectivity as a service, which they can administer and adapt to their own bespoke requirements.
NaaS is transforming the traditional network experience into one that delivers the choice, agility and control to match rising enterprise business customer needs. It enables an unparalleled level of engagement and interaction with employees, partners and a business’ own end-customers.
Complemented by a value-added-services (VAS) and virtual network functions (VNF) marketplace, NaaS enables services and infrastructure to be ordered and managed via an enterprise self-service portal. The latter offers a near real-time, unified view of on-demand connectivity to clouds, data centres, applications and services, as well as of VNFs from the full range of vendors in the third-party ecosystem.
What’s in it for the service provider and the enterprise customer?
From the service provider perspective, NaaS is an enabler for providing enterprise customers with a network that can be managed and adapted to specific needs. Service providers are empowered to elevate themselves in their enterprise customers’ value chain by exposing their network to be consumed as-a-service, thereby increasing ‘stickiness’ through service bundling.
From the enterprise customer’s perspective, NaaS offers a consumer-like experience with choice, scalability, visibility and control. Furthermore, it simplifies networking and speeds up on-demand provisioning of network services that can be customised to better serve the enterprise’s own end-customers. This means, for example, that an enterprise IT manager can instantly and independently order, provision, monitor and manage new and existing services for branch offices within the virtual private network (VPN) without the need to call or wait for a technician’s visit.
Three things you need for a successful NaaS deployment
A NaaS offering typically consists of three main components that are critical to ensuring a successful deployment:
Connectivity for providing network links with predefined QoS and bandwidth
Automated self-service portal for managing and controlling the network
VAS and VNF marketplace
Deployed correctly and strategically, these components will ensure network and VAS that are easy to manage and fully automated, configurable in real time, and dynamic and scalable. Overall, this will provide the full network automation required for the entire order-to-care process across hybrid network and cloud domains.
NaaS automation and 5G implications
Once networks are automated, there is no need to stop at NaaS. The industrial scale digitalisation that will accompany 5G is set to open new opportunities for enterprise business. Furthermore, 5G improvements in capacity and latency will automatically lead to improvements in manufacturing controls and warehouse automation.
As an example, one of the leading 5G use cases for enterprise is the creation of a private cellular network. These networks enable the offloading of 5G traffic so that enterprises can keep content and apps local, thereby gaining more reliable connectivity and enhanced security. This use case is enabled, once again, by network automation and by distribution of computing power closer to the end-user. Here, virtualised resources and a cloud services environment at the edge enables applications to operate close to connected enterprise users and devices, enabling higher efficiency and flexibility for managing network resources.
One more benefit of 5G on the enterprise customer experience, due to network automation, is the use of dedicated VPNs leveraging 5G network slicing. This enables service providers to secure enterprise network performance across siloed operational network domains. Companies are exploring new ways to improve the business service user experience by utilising the advantages of network automation, with orchestrating NaaS and 5G network Slicing-as-a-Service, leading focus areas in 2020.