What Is a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) Model and How Does It Work?
Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is both an architectural framework and a business model. It gives customers the ability to lease and manage a resource from a communications service provider, such as a multi-site virtual network. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable the capability. APIs make it possible for external applications to control network elements. Customers control a part of the network for a period of time for a specific use case, like a prioritized video conference circuit, without intervention from the service provider. The customer doesn’t pay for different service changes or waste excess capabilities. They also gain more control, higher levels of quality, and predictability.
There are many avenues for service providers to explore when it comes to NaaS. Let’s look at how it works and see what providers can do to capture its full potential.
How NaaS works
Developers securely access the network with standardized APIs. They use these APIs to create and co-create applications, functions, and features for the network. Any number of internal or external parties may provide them, including:
- The original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
- A network management provider
- An application provider from a different domain, such as a billing provider
- Service providers who create and use them for their own business purposes
- A development provider who creates a new service, such as a “Contact-Center-as-a-Service” in which the third-party application manages queuing and voice prompting for callers
- A third-party who creates a new application focused on an outcome, such as “Security-as-a-Service” so a business can subscribe to a service that includes surveillance drones, dynamic prioritization of 5G slices, and real-time notifications
Service providers may sell these apps or package them into solutions on a managed marketplace. Businesses can buy these apps for their own purpose or sell them to end users. Known as a B2B2X marketplace, B2B buyers or end consumers browse and select capabilities that meet their specific needs. However, B2B2X marketplaces are not exclusive to NaaS. They can also include things like hardware components.
An example is a subscription service for a 5G-enabled camera on a bicycle helmet. More than a fun way to document rides, the application offers an extra layer of safety in the event of an accident: Loved ones know the cyclist’s exact location and the authorities are immediately notified. It’s like how smart watch technology uses fall detection to send an alert if someone needs help.