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Software-Defined Networking Gives Rise to Networking as a Service

July 21, 2016

It may be the greatest thing about technology; when one technology is realized and mastered, it can be put to work in strange and unexpected ways, sometimes giving rise to completely new technologies. Just as fire gave way to steam and steam to the internal combustion engine, technology can be just as much a process as a single item. That's what seems to be happening with software-defined networking, as development in this field has given rise to a whole new technology: networking as a service (NaaS).

NaaS is shaking up the field significantly, as it seeks to change the way network provisioning and management is set up, along with the technology used in its establishment. Those who engage in NaaS will likely have to engage in a lot of retraining as well, as using NaaS is substantially different from establishing a local network. Yet a recent Technavio report suggests that there will be plenty of this retraining going on, as the market is set to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.76 percent through 2020.

Delivery methods for NaaS vary, but one of the biggest is what's called “utility-style network consumption.” Essentially, it provides networking service in the same way that electricity, water and other services are provided, on a pay for use basis. A combined effort between Plexxi and Aligned Data Centers is working to bring a model like this forward, using Plexxi's Cloud Builder platform as its bases and allowing businesses to better match operational expense (OPEX) with the business' goals.

Naturally, this has some impact for current network equipment providers, particularly Juniper and Cisco, who depend on a more traditional

                    Image via Pixabay

network model to provide profit. However, it's not hard to suggest that this could be a windfall instead, particularly as a company that's already selling networking hardware can fairly readily put a NaaS model into play, and take advantage of that market. Plus, such longstanding organizations will have the advantage of name recognition going into the matter, which they can in turn use to draw more interest to this “new” offering.

NaaS comes with a lot to like. Versatility and scalability make for a better value, and cost savings thrown into the picture certainly isn't unwelcome. Though this is a new technology, and many will likely adopt a wait-and-see approach to see just how well it works out—there won't be a lot of waiting involved, though; if it works any kind of well it's going to quickly be considered a competitive advantage—it's still built around a lot of common principles and should yield some worthwhile results.

From networking to SDN to NaaS, networking has had its share of quantum leaps in technology like many others. Now we're seeing what happens when some of the most elemental parts of business are available as a service, and the outcome should be welcome overall.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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