Network as a Service: A Growth Opportunity for MSPs

Network as a Service: A Growth Opportunity for MSPs

By Erik Linask

Network as a Service (NaaS) is a new(ish) approach to network infrastructure that's rapidly gaining traction.  NaaS simplifies network operation, allowing businesses to focus on their core objectives without the burden of owning, building, or maintaining their own infrastructure.  Instead, they can scale their networks up and down as demands change, rapidly deploy services, and eliminate hardware costs.

It’s part of a broader trend in IT towards effectively “everything-as-a-service” offerings, where resources are consumed on an on-demand basis rather than through capital investments.  This shift towards a usage-based model allows for greater flexibility, scalability, and cost savings, making it an attractive proposition for businesses of all sizes.

The growth the NaaS market is experiencing can be largely attributed to several factors, including the increasing use of cloud services, high reliability and security for mission-critical business applications, the rising demand for widespread and high-speed network coverage, and the lack of enough IT expertise at many companies.

According to TechNavio, the NaaS market is set to grow by $20 billion from 2022 to 2027 – from about $13.5 to $33.5 billion – at a CAGR of 19.9%.  

The NaaS model will continue become increasingly popular because, like other “as-a-Service” offerings, it allows organizations to consume network infrastructure through flexible operating expense (OpEx) subscriptions, inclusive of hardware, software, management tools, licenses, and lifecycle services.  This is a major shift from the traditional network model, which requires capital expenses (CapEx) for physical networks with switches, routers, and licensing – as well as IT staff to maintain and monitor the infrastructure. 

With NaaS, businesses align their costs with actual usage, eliminating the need to pay for surplus capacity that goes unused and dynamically add capacity as demands increase. 

NaaS also enables the continuous delivery of new fixes, features, and capabilities, automating multiple processes such as onboarding new users and providing orchestration and optimization for maximum performance.  Companies that own their infrastructure are burdened with the task of implementing upgrades, bug fixes, and security patches in a timely manner. NaaS eliminates these needs, saving both time and money.

Today, there’s an additional benefit in that NaaS also offers access from anywhere, essential for today's varied workforces – and IT teams – who need network access from various locations without having to rely on VPNs.   As long as the have internet access and appropriate credentials, they can access the network from anywhere. 

Further reducing the strain in IT teams, NaaS should also include enhanced security, proactive network monitoring, visibility and insights, improved application experience, flexibility, and scalability.  With the increasing number of devices connected to the internet and escalating cyber threats – especially as networks become increasingly complex, the NaaS model allows companies to effectively outsource their network security to experts, reducing costs and complexity while ensuring robust protection against cyber threats.

All of these features make NaaS a valuable solution for businesses that want to save money and resources by moving data to the cloud rather than building and maintaining on-premises infrastructure.

How MSPs Can Capitalize on the Growth Trend

As NaaS continues to grow, there will be new opportunities for MSPs to offer NaaS solutions, manage NaaS deployments for businesses, and provide additional services related to NaaS.  In particular, as networks become larger, more diverse, and more distributed, they become more challenging to manage and monitor.  This necessitates more sophisticated NaaS options that offer better network visibility and control.

NaaS has a close relationship with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), an architecture that combines SD-WAN and cloud security to connect users to applications and data from anywhere.  While SASE is an architecture, NaaS is a complete service package for operating networking without owning physical infrastructure.

For MSPs, the opportunity lies in offering a service that is increasingly in demand due to its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and scalability.  Like other services, businesses need networks, yet don’t have the ability to manage them effectively without sacrificing other needs.  MSPs can offer NaaS as part of their portfolios, providing their clients with a way to simplify their network infrastructure and reduce their capital expenses – along with the services that run on the networks.  This could include managing NaaS for their clients, offering additional services like security or SD-WAN as part of a NaaS package, and consulting with clients on how to best use NaaS to meet their unique business needs. 

It’s yet another cloud-driven opportunity for MSPs to increase their value proposition to clients, who have limited IT resources and expertise, yet have a growing appetite for technology, including effective security.  By building bundled solutions that include NaaS and other services, MSPs can take a significant workload off their customers’ plates, while delivering the technology they need to operate.  It’s a win-win.

Edited by Erik Linask
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Group Editorial Director

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