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Global Networking Trends Report 2022
The Rise of Network as a Service (NaaS)

Cisco NaaS

Welcome to the 2022 Global Networking Trends Report: The Rise of Network as a Service (NaaS).

It’s no trivial proposition to completely transform the way you consume and operate your network. You need some good business and technology reasons to make this transition to an as-a-service model. And you also need trusted partners you can rely on to keep your organization humming.

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In our 2021 Global Networking Trends Report, we highlighted the ways network technologies are being used to improve business resilience—regardless of circumstance. In this year’s report, we focus on an emerging trend that has big implications for the future: network as a service.

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Countless IT organizations are struggling to manage network complexity, respond to disruptions, protect users and data, and keep up with the accelerating pace of business. To confront these challenges, many are investigating new networking models such as 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. And in doing so, it allows IT teams to focus on value-added activities that deliver greater agility, resiliency, and innovation.

As with any transformational model, there are 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.

Naas - A different networking model

NaaS is a cloud-enabled, usage-based consumption model that allows users to acquire and orchestrate network capabilities without owning, building, or maintaining their own infrastructure.

NaaS can provide an alternative consumption model for a broad range of network elements, including wired and wireless LANs, WANs, and VPNs, as well as branch, data center, edge, multicloud, and hybrid cloud environments. It can be used to deliver new network models such as SASE. It can enable shifts in organizational models, such as the move to hybrid work. And as an on-demand service, NaaS can allow IT teams to more easily scale up or down, rapidly deploy new services, and optimize the balance between CapEx and OpEx.

Key Findings from the report:

  • Challenges : If resilience and agility are the question, for many, NaaS is the answer.
    • Responding to disruptions (45%) and accommodating new business needs (40%) are cited as the top network challenges for 2021.
    • At the same time, IT teams recognize the top NaaS benefit as freeing up IT teams to deliver innovation and business value (46%). Another 40% recognize NaaS as improving response to disruptions and 34% as improving network agility.
  • Benefits : Big expectations—fast access to the latest technologies is the big prize.
    • Technology continues to evolve faster than organizations can adopt it. Thirty-five percent of respondents recognize the requirement to continually deploy the latest networking technologies such as Wi-Fi 6, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), secure access service edge (SASE), 5G, AI, and others as their top driver for NaaS.
  • Operations : NaaS is great, but only if it helps the networking team meet service-level agreements (SLAs).
    • The top services required from NaaS providers are network lifecycle management (48%), network resiliency (42%), and monitoring and troubleshooting to meet SLAs (38%).
  • Concerns : But it’s not all smooth sailing; there are some concerns about giving up control and cost.
    • Concerns range from whether NaaS can support unseen emerging demands (30%) to loss of security control (26%).
    • The cost and disruption of transitioning also ranks high (28%).
  • Roles : NaaS opens up new horizons for IT professionals, but they will need to up their game.
    • More than 75% of organizations agree or strongly agree that NaaS will give IT teams opportunities to advance their skill sets.
    • However, today only 1 in 4 organizations are likely to trust their own IT staff over a systems integrator, managed service provider, or NaaS vendor to translate
      their business needs to technical policies.
  • Adoption : There are multiple ways to get started with NaaS, and one of them is SASE.
    • SASE is a likely entry point to NaaS, since 40% of organizations cited multicloud access and 34% cited security as good fits for NaaS.
    • Forty-nine percent of organizations plan to get started with NaaS during a refresh or upgrade cycle, and 34% said they would start by adapting an existing site.