It’s important to recognize that the virtual overlay form of Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) only segments the connectivity that the real network underneath provides. In other words, an application’s network becomes a transparent addition to the actual hardware underneath that creates connectivity.
For example, Virtualized Personal Networks (VPNs), VLANs and VxLANs offer similar types of capabilities to what NaaS provides. Companies have tunneled private traffic via the Internet using VPNs for some time. However, each of these solutions is limited by the need for API requirements. When it comes to controlling devices from the cloud, as with the virtual overlay form of NaaS, functionality is only as good as the network on which it’s based.
Management difficulties with virtual overlay are partly due to the lack of integration with the devices that need to be controlled. Network management system (NMS) tools only view NaaS services as traffic, and that’s a considerable challenge.
In addition, NaaS services that use direct provisioning of all networking services depend on the applications that request those services, such as load balancers and specific security profiles. However, in order for such provisioning to be effective, companies must have a clear understanding of their application connectivity needs.
Most companies rarely achieve that level of application awareness. So, for some companies, the need for dynamic network service deployment might not even be necessary. This could be due to minimal service awareness, a lack of dynamic applications, and limited changes in applications’ resource needs.
In addition to the questionable effectiveness of specific use cases, another challenge with NaaS is related to security. Similar to how companies have been wary to put private data on public servers (hence the rise of hybrid cloud), a similar concern extends to the idea of combining networks and public providers.
While security concerns may be considered impediments to NaaS adoption, it should also be noted that as more content and services reside in the cloud, there is a constant shift in how security is used. For example, an increase and evolution in applied encryption technologies is one barometer of a more secure cloud provider environment.
Another challenge related to NaaS adoption is the responsibility of uptime, performance and security in the hands of a third-party provider. In addition, since CBNs extend LAN capabilities everywhere and to everyone on a virtual cloud network, it requires that individual file-sharing policies on participating machines are set accordingly.
As companies search for solutions to resolve their future needs, the continuing evolution of NaaS offers the possibility of meeting those needs. It’s clear that increasing numbers of companies are looking to replace dedicated WAN circuits with Internet alternatives. But as they do so, corporate leaders need to consider questions related to the value of NaaS adoption for their organizations.
In the end, adopting multiple NaaS solutions from a provider may be less effective than internally segmenting functionality using virtualized distributed networking principles. Each organization should make decisions based on their current and future networking needs and a clear understanding of what NaaS adoption can provide.
This is an excerpt from the Global Knowledge white paper, How WAN Deficiencies Help Bolster Networks-as-a-Service (NaaS).