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2022 Global Networking Trends: Executive Summary

The rise of network as a service (NaaS)

In our 2022 Global Networking Trends Report, we focus on an emerging trend that has big implications for the future: Network as a Service.

The convergence of business needs, emerging technologies, and changing IT operations expectations is creating the perfect storm for the emergence of networks that are delivered and consumed using an as-a-service model.

In our 2022 Global Networking Trends Report, we focus on an emerging trend that has big implications for the future: Network as a Service. 

Here are some of the key things you need to know.

NaaS: The Data

We conducted interviews with 20 IT leaders and received input from more than 1,500 IT professionals in 13 countries about their views on NaaS and how they see it aligning with or augmenting their networking strategies over the next two years. 

Biggest technology challenges 

  • 36%: cited connectivity to multiple clouds 
  • 34%: securing the network, users, and applications 

Biggest business challenges 

  • 45%: respond to disruptions 
  • 40%: accommodate new business applications and projects 

Top motivators moving to NaaS 

  • 36%: continually deploy latest networking technologies 
  • 30%: security attacks more significant and sophisticated 

Most important services in a NaaS model

  • 48%: network lifecycle management 
  • 42%: network resiliency 

Driving business value

  • 2 in 3 organizations agree or strongly agree NaaS will free their IT teams to deliver Innovation and business value 

Upskilling for network professionals

  • More than 75% of organizations agree or strongly agree that NaaS will give IT teams opportunities to advance their skillsets 

Where organizations plan to begin

  • 49%: during next refresh or upgrade 
  • 34%: adaptation of an existing site 

A good fit for NaaS

  • 40%: multicloud access 
  • 37%: network management platforms 
  • 34%: Security components 

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What Is NaaS?

NaaS provides continuous access to the latest networking technologies through an on-demand or subscription-based model. It shifts the burden of day-to-day network management to a third-party provider. In doing so, NaaS allows IT teams to focus on value-added activities that deliver greater agility, resiliency, and innovation.   

NaaS is defined as network infrastructure that organizations consume via a flexible consumption operating expense (opex) model, inclusive of: hardware, software, management tools, licenses and lifecycle services and is managed via a cloud-based platform.

IDC Research

What does NaaS do?

NaaS provides an alternative consumption model for a broad range of internally built and managed network elements including:

  • Wired and wireless LANs
  • WANs, and VPNs
  • Branch, data center, and edge
  • Multicloud and hybrid cloud environments

It can also be used to deliver new network models like Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), as well as enable shifts in organizational models such as hybrid work.

As an on-demand service, NaaS allows IT teams to more easily scale up or down, rapidly deploy new services, and optimize the balance between CapEx and OpEx.

Why should I care?

NaaS is more than an alternative network consumption model. It offers a compelling way to improve networking. Some IT leaders recognize they are falling behind and losing the confidence of their users.  Their expectation is that NaaS will get them out in front and help them match the pace of business requirements by incorporating the latest technologies.

Organizations are exploring NaaS as an alternative model to address their top challenges with today’s networking infrastructure:

  • Responding to network disruptions
  • Accommodating new application and business projects 

The biggest technology challenges organizations face in managing their networks today are:

  • Connecting to multiple clouds
  • Securing their network, users, and applications
  • Identifying root causes and quickly remediating security or performance issues

IT wants to extend the advantages of as-a-service models to networking: 

  • Nearly half of IT organizations believe network lifecycle management would be the most important service to include in a NaaS offering.
  • NaaS offers network professionals opportunities to upskill and deliver increased business value.

How do I get started?

As with any transformational model, there may be concerns and hesitations surrounding NaaS. But it is not an “all-or-nothing” proposition. IT teams can work with trusted partners to try NaaS on a small scale, evaluate the risks and rewards, and see whether it aligns with their overarching business and technology strategies. 

  • SASE is a likely entry point to NaaS since many organizations identify multicloud access and security as most suitable for NaaS.
  • IT sees technology upgrades as the best opportunity for getting started with NaaS, above greenfield and site upgrades.

First published in 2019, The Global Networking Trends Report highlights the latest strategies and technologies within the enterprise networking and cloud industry. Based on industry research, it provides perspectives, insights, and guidance to help business leaders and IT organizations understand current technology trends, evolve their networking models, and support dynamic business needs.

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