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Is Network-as-a-Service scary?

Is Network-as-a-Service scary?

By Woody Sessoms, Chief Business Officer, Graphiant

A friend of mine, a network architect at a Global 2000 enterprise, said something that surprised me the other day. Commenting about a recent article he had read about “Network-as-a-Service”, he said, “There is no way I would trust my network to some new, exotic technology like NaaS.

“Oh really,” I said. “Did you know the first as-a-Service models emerged more than 8,000 years ago?” I proceeded to explain how the Post Office – invented in the 6th century BC by the Persians – is nothing more than a “Communications-as-a-Service” model. A central organization that handles the delivery of written communications, and citizens pay for what they use.

Or the first water utility, the Roman “Water-as-a-Service” aqueduct from 600 BC. The aqueduct was popular enough to run for more than a century.

And, of course, I mentioned the power utilities “Electricity-as-a-Service” that sprung up in the Industrial Revolution. Those continue to run today, and with few exceptions (Amazon, I’m looking at you), nobody is itching to generate their own power.

As-a-Service popularity

The question is why “as-a-Service” has been so popular over the years. There are many compelling reasons:

Economics. As-a-Service shifts CapEx costs to OpEx. You no longer have massive costs to build the infrastructure required to do what you way. Instead, you simply sign-up, use what you need, and pay for only that. This allows the enterprise to match expense outflows to revenue inflows.

Scalability. The ability to scale elastically, both up and down, as needed. Look at the pandemic. If an enterprise owned its offices, its ability to scale down office expenses was non-existent. But enterprises who rented office space – especially from short-term providers like We Work, were able to scale down almost instantly.

Agility. New initiatives can be spun up in hours, not weeks or months.

Reduced risk. It removes the risk of failure since the as-a-Service is already up and running.

Focus. It allows the enterprise to focus on its core business instead of arcane technology. This is a double-edged sword. It is also true that the central “as-a-Service” provider can focus more acutely on their core service. Advances in electrical distribution soared during the Industrial Revolution for precisely this reason.

Innovation. Finally, the as-a-Service provider has the ability to innovate on their core technology at a vastly greater speed due to their increased scale and scope.

But as-a-Service IS modern! (Not)

“Okay,” said my friend, “but these are all non-tech examples. As-a-Service in tech didn’t really start until in 1999!”

Sigh. “That’s simply not true,” I countered.”

I pointed out that time-sharing emerged more than sixty years ago. I continued with the earliest software sharing in the 70’s. And Networking-as-a-Service? It isn’t a far stretch to consider CompuServe, AOL, or even the Internet as introducing NaaS more than 40 years ago.

Today’s NaaS approach is new

At this point, I could see my friend was frustrated with me. I needed to throw him a bone, so I admitted that how Network-as-a-Service was being designed nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century was new.

Today’s NaaS separates the control plane from the data plane. It uses the public Cloud for out-of-band deployment, management, and visibility, and it runs on a completely private network. “But,” I continued, “this makes today’s NaaS less risky, not more.”

I pointed to vastly lower costs, enhanced security, Internet-class security, and data sovereignty as advantages NaaS or Network Edge “as-a-Service” (NEaaS) has over the kind of hand-built networking he was used to.

Furthermore, Network Edge as-a-Service (NEaaS) extends these benefits even further by bringing network services closer to end-users, reducing latency, improving performance, and enabling more efficient data processing at the edge of the network.

The bottom line is that today’s modern NaaS is a fresh approach to how enterprises build and manage networks. And that’s a good thing.

About the author 

Woody Sessoms, Chief Business Officer at Graphiant, is responsible for leading business development and strategic partnerships. He spent 25 years at Cisco Systems, serving in various global leadership positions. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Global Service Provider Business. Prior to that, he was responsible for Cisco’s Global Enterprise Business. These responsibilities gave him a deep understanding of worldwide people, cultures, and practices. Before Cisco, Woody spent time at Burlington Industries, Rolm, IBM, and Siemens.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review ( 

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