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NaaS and Edge Cloud: Agility and Efficiency for the Modern Enterprise

(Credit: YAY Media AS / Alamy Stock Photo)

In today's hyper-connected and data-driven world, businesses require a flexible and efficient network infrastructure that can keep up with ever-changing demands in an increasingly competitive digital landscape. Traditional cloud-based solutions offer flexibility but struggle with latency and scalability, especially for data-intensive applications at the edge. Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and edge cloud computing combine strengths to create a robust hybrid networking solution approach that combines the strengths of cloud-based management with edge computing capabilities to deliver significant benefits to the enterprise.

NaaS: Unlocking network flexibility

NaaS provides on-demand access to essential network resources like bandwidth, security, and storage in a subscription-based model. Rather than building and maintaining their own network infrastructure, enterprises can rapidly deploy and scale network capacity to align with fluctuating business workloads. This shifts the burden of building, maintaining, and managing infrastructure to the service provider, freeing up IT resources within the business to focus on driving strategic initiatives tailored to core competencies. Additionally, enterprises pay only for the specific network resources needed at any given time rather than overprovisioning expensive on-premises infrastructure optimizing costs.

Edge Cloud: Empowering real-time innovation

Edge cloud computing represents a transformative shift in cloud computing, bringing the power of the cloud closer to the data source. With this approach, businesses can leverage cloud resources directly where data originates – on edge devices like IoT and sensors - rather than solely relying on centralized data centers. A centralized platform to manage edge resources ensures consistent security policies and simplified administration, even across a widely distributed network. And the ability to scale resources up or down easily in response to fluctuating demands assures businesses they have the necessary capacity when needed. Additional edge cloud advantages include reduced data transmission rates and associated network bandwidth costs, lower latency enabling real-time responsiveness, enhanced security and data privacy, and offline functionality during network interruptions.

NaaS meets edge cloud

Combining NaaS and edge cloud offers significant benefit for enterprises. NaaS edge provides on-demand access to network resources, allowing businesses to quickly deploy and scale their network infrastructure at the edge as needed. This agility enables them to respond rapidly to changing market demands, pursue new opportunities, and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Compute power and storage are closer to the source of data, reducing latency and enabling real-time decision-making.

Because the need for capital expenditure on hardware and software is eliminated, costs are predictable - businesses pay only for the resources they use. And because the burden of maintenance and network updates shifts to the service provider, IT resources are freed to focus on strategic initiatives and core competencies. Centralized management makes it easier to monitor performance, troubleshoot issues, and ensure compliance with security policies. Simplified compliance reduces the risk of cyberattacks, and because sensitive data is processed and stored closer to its source, the potential attack surface is reduced. Edge cloud is better able to address today’s cyber risks in an increasingly perimeterless IT landscape.

More than just a technological advancement, NaaS edge represents a strategic imperative for enterprise success. By embracing this approach, businesses can gain an advantage by outpacing competitors with faster response times and superior user experiences. They can develop and deploy innovative applications previously impossible with traditional cloud models, opening up opportunities for growth in various industries and locations globally. Additionally, NaaS empowers workforces by equipping employees with real-time data access and enhanced collaboration tools. Ultimately, NaaS edge fosters enhanced customer experiences by enabling businesses to deliver personalized and responsive services to their customers.

The power of NaaS across industries

The versatility of NaaS edge offers tangible benefits across diverse industries. In the manufacturing sector, real-time monitoring and analysis of sensor data from connected machines can optimize production processes, predict maintenance needs, and improve quality control, translating to increased efficiency and reduced costs. In healthcare, remote patient monitoring, real-time diagnostics, and personalized treatment plans can be facilitated by edge-based healthcare applications, leading to improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs. In smart cities, traffic management, resource allocation, and public safety can be improved through real-time analysis of data from sensors and cameras deployed throughout the city, improving the lives of citizens and creating a more sustainable urban environment. These are just a few examples of how businesses can leverage the power of NaaS edge to transform their operations and gain a competitive advantage in today's data-driven world.

Industry Alignment and Standardization

Up to now, there has been no industry alignment on defining NaaS or the core components and capabilities of NaaS solutions, challenging both enterprises and service providers. What’s more, because NaaS enables on-demand access to key network resources, an automated approach is required. Recognizing this, MEF introduced a NaaS Industry Blueprint, which provides a common framework for understanding and defining NaaS and the pivotal role of automation in the NaaS ecosystem. The Industry Blueprint establishes a foundation for the industry to build on as it develops an automated NaaS ecosystem.

The partnership between NaaS and edge cloud not only unlocks new possibilities for data-driven innovation but becomes the cornerstone for optimized operations. This synergy empowers enterprises to thrive in an ever-evolving digital landscape, providing the agility needed to explore new opportunities, adapt to unforeseen circumstances, and deliver personalized, responsive services that redefine customer experiences. The collaborative vision of the industry, as facilitated by MEF, further ensures that this journey is not just an evolution in networking but a revolution in enterprise connectivity.

To learn more about the role of automation in the NaaS ecosystem, check out MEF's State of the Industry Report – Paradigm Shift: Automating Business Functions Between Service Providers.

(Editor’s note: This article is part of our regular series of articles from the industry experts at MEF.)

Pascal Menezes, CTO at MEF, is a seasoned expert with a laser focus on cutting-edge technologies. His areas of expertise encompass SD-WAN, SASE, cloud-scale architectures, real-time media networks, SDN, NFV, and LSO. With a decade at Microsoft Skype for Business Global Carrier Group and a track record of success in five startups, Pascal has earned global thought leadership awards, presented at renowned events, and contributed to industry standards in the IETF, MEF, and Broadband Forum (MPLS), holds 30+ patents. Pascal hosts MEF's Executives at the Edge podcast.

See his collection of Network Computing articles here.