Key Criteria for Evaluating Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) Solutionsv3.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. NaaS Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. About Andrew Green

1. Summary

Network as a service (NaaS) is a category of solutions that applies a cloud-like provisioning model to enterprise networks, allowing communications service providers to deliver on-demand connectivity and value-added services using APIs and self-service customer portals.

Especially for enterprises that have a geographically distributed and multinational presence, networks are hard to design, deploy, and manage. With more compliance, regulations, and data sovereignty requirements in different markets, the network takes a larger slice of the balance sheet pie and is often viewed as an operational expense with little value-add to the business. NaaS takes into account the dynamic requirements of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings as well as the use of different cloud service platforms and edge computing. If the underlying transmission network, despite being a core business enabler, is not intrinsically related to the product the business sells, new business cases and investment in hardware, talent, and training are harder to approve.

This complexity can now be outsourced to specialized third parties who can focus on delivering flexible, secure, and performant networks under a single bill for the customer. This moves the network spending from a CapEx model for purchasing hardware and OpEx for managing it to a full OpEx model consumed as a service.

While this OpEx approach considerably reduces the overhead associated with managing the network, it does not remove the need for an internal network engineering team, which still must define policies, reconfigure the network as the business evolves, and ensure the network serves its intended purpose.

Moving to NaaS does not mean spending less on the network, but it does offer enterprises a choice as to how business efforts and associated costs are invested. NaaS can free up IT resources to focus on other activities instead of deploying and managing networks, which can be an excellent bonus for businesses that struggle to find and retain adequate talent.

NaaS offerings are software-defined and programmable. Services can be quickly set up or removed with centralized management tools. Standardized interfaces ensure interoperability with existing solutions—for service deployment or identity management, for example. A NaaS solution is based on orchestration and flexible services that go far beyond pure enterprise networking. This differentiates NaaS from both managed networks (a service for existing legacy networks) and enterprise-managed software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) even though it shares features with them.

NaaS is sometimes referred to as network on demand (NoD). Either way, enterprises benefit from on-demand provisioning with a pay-per-use model. There are no investment costs for hardware or line rental and no long installation and delivery times or complex configurations.

This is the third year that GigaOm has reported on the NaaS space in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analysis and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report highlights the capabilities (table stakes, key criteria, and emerging technologies) and non-functional requirements (evaluation metrics) for selecting an effective NaaS solution. The companion GigaOm Radar report identifies vendors and products that excel in those capabilities and metrics. Together, these reports provide an overview of the category and its underlying technology, identify leading NaaS offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these solutions so they can make a more informed investment decision.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

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