The As-a-Service Age
Marc Benioff established Salesforce.com in 1998 with a radical idea: stop buying software. Traditionalists in enterprises scoffed. “It will never work,” they said. They pointed to security, performance, reliability, and a host of other perceived issues. Yet, a decade later, Salesforce topped the billion-dollar mark and never looked back.
A few years after Salesforce was founded, Jeff Bezos was growing tired of how much time his developers spent on the “undifferentiated, heavy-lifting” needed to create the infrastructure that was necessary to run the software they were building. He founded Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2002 to allow enterprises to consume computers (and later storage) as-a-Service. Critics pointed to the same issues imagined about Salesforce, but AWS experienced meteoric growth nonetheless.
Today, there are at least 100 things an enterprise can consume as-a-Service. The Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) market reached $238b in 2002 and is forecast to grow to a staggering $675b market by 2028. For context, that represents $84 per year for every human on earth.
Why have enterprises so completely embraced the as-a-Service model? There are some obvious reasons, including one very strategic reason.
First, it simply makes sense financially. Paying for what they consume allows enterprises to avoid overprovisioning and to match expenses with revenue. There is no longer a need to invest large amounts of CapEx years before it will generate revenue.
As-a-Service also works better. It is faster, more reliable, and has better security than enterprises can build on their own. It also provides IT with the business agility that enterprises will require. Enterprises can deploy and scale services in clicks and minutes rather than weeks or months.
But here is the strategic reason why as-a-Service makes sense: it allows an enterprise to focus on its core business. Just as Jeff Bezos wanted his developers to spend more time developing, enterprises can make time for IT staff to work on competitive advantages. It allows the business to tackle digital transformation.
It’s Time to Consume Networking As-a-Service
We live in an everything-to-everything world. In addition to building networks that connect offices and employees, IT now must connect IoT devices, multiple clouds, partners, and customers. Working from home only exacerbates a trend that has been accelerating for a decade. Building these networks takes too long, is too expensive, and is too difficult to secure adequately.
It’s time to consume networking as-a-Service (NaaS). That means provisioning the network through a simple cloud portal. It means relying on a hyperscale prebuilt network instead of designing, purchasing, and building your own bespoke network. It means no longer worrying about hardware throughput or software licensing levels. It means an enterprise can once again receive SLAs that guarantee availability and reliable, predictable performance. And it means world-class security and the ability to maintain compliance with complex data sovereignty regulations.
The great thing about the as-a-Service model is that one can start small and build from there. A good example is connecting to business partners. Instead of building a complex DMZ between two companies, an enterprise can simply use an as-a-Service networking vendor by linking its core IT network to the as-a-Service network. Thereafter, connecting to partners is as simple as having the partner connect to the as-a-Service network before setting up policies from the cloud portal.
Another example of this is the ability to quickly on-board cloud services. Rather than paying expense data egress fees or building your own direct connections to cloud providers, enterprises can use an as-a-Service vendors cloud on-ramps. This is a faster and more secure approach. Not to mention, it’s often cheaper.
Is it Radical to Stop Building Your Own Networks?
It may seem crazy to consider not building your own networks. But it was crazy to consider using software-as-a-service 25 years ago, and that turned out well. Same thing for compute, storage, and virtually everything else.
Networking-as-a-Service is the logical outcome of many business processes moving to the cloud. It provides the networking hardware, software, and operational/maintenance services as an operational expense instead of the traditional upfront expense. In today’s fast-paced world, NaaS is the perfect fit as businesses can deploy and scale network connectivity quickly.
Simply put, consuming your network as-a-service radically simplifies things. So, a quarter century into the “age of as-a-Service,” the question isn’t can you consume networking “as-a-service.” Rather, the question is whether it’s radical not to!
Matthew Krieg is VP of Sales and Marketing at Graphiant.