How to Make a Business Case for Network as a Service

How do you convince the executive suite that NaaS is worth the investment?

Many leaders – especially those with decades of experience – don't like change. The products and services they offer are working, so why introduce risk? Change also means time and money that may not be forecasted. 

If you're the CIO or CTO of a major telecom corporation, chances are you've heard these kinds of rebuttals when you discuss the merits of offering Network-as-a-Service solutions. How can you convince skeptical enterprise business executives and board members that NaaS will enable their businesses to thrive in an age of software-defined technologies

Explain Why Customers Want NaaS 

A few of the chief decision makers may argue that customers don't have any interest in NaaS. In addition, customer-side network administrators want the freedom to configure their enterprise networks according to their specific operational demands. So it doesn't make sense to force pre-set network functions on them. 

Let's address the first argument. According to MarketsandMarkets, the NaaS market will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 48.4 percent over the next four years, reaching $9.65 billion by 2021. The researchers found software-defined networking movement is driving demand for NaaS services. IT departments that have experimented with and, eventually, adopted software-defined technologies have experienced the benefits of not being beholden to hardware. 

For example, suppose a senior network administrator oversees two facilities: an office and a production plant. Each building has vastly different networking requirements. While the office supports about 200 workers who need access to hosted applications, the factory contains network-connected devices that track asset performance, daily unit output and other operational dimensions. 

Through a NaaS solution, the network admin could set the manufacturing facility to only accept SSH requests from a particular set of servers hosted in the cloud, whether that be Azure, AWS or a private deployment. Through the same interface, he can also create a guest network for the office branch as well as turn on wireless encryption, create a virtual firewall and more. 

What we're talking about here is greater convenience and oversight. The network admin doesn't have to go from one location to the next to configure networks – he can do all of that remotely through an encrypted connection. In addition, he can assess all network settings across multiple sites. That makes a huge difference for network admins, and that's why they want NaaS solutions.

Bandwidth on Demand Leads to Greater Customer Loyalty

You can include Bandwidth-on-Demand as a feature of your NaaS solution, enabling clients to scale bandwidth consumption based on what they need in real time.

Your colleagues may assert that locking customers into fixed agreements is a reliable source of revenue, but that's not going to be the case in a few years. Developers and IT have gotten used to being able to adjust compute and storage resources to run their applications. AWS Lambda, for example, goes one step further and removes the need to keep servers running: The service charges based on the compute cycles needed to support an application. 

Now, IT is expecting the same level of flexibility from ISPs. A report from Heavy Reading Insider found that offering optimized bandwidth flexibility "will be critical" to ensuring service providers can remain competitive in the years ahead. The Internet of Things, DevOps and other movements which depend on scalability will expedite the transition from fixed service agreements to Bandwidth-on-Demand (BoD) services. 

Of course, implementing BoD requires some technical adjustments on your end. Check out the tweet below to learn how BoD will affect your OSS/BSS infrastructure:

Your colleagues are right in that NaaS isn't a common offering among telecoms today, but that doesn't mean your company shouldn't seriously invest in the technology to deliver them tomorrow. Technology Business Research found telecom investment in NFV and SDN is growing 116 percent between now and 2021. Your competitors aren't wasting any time, and neither should you. 

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