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Beyond network-as-a-service to connectivity-as-a-service?

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Anna Kurmanbaeva on 29 Oct 2021
  • Last modified 1 Nov 2021
After five years of trials and deployments, communications service providers (CSPs) have reached a good measure of success in implementing network-as-a-service (NaaS). Few if any implementations, however, are exploiting the full promise of NaaS, which is to chain together service components end to end across domains and assure and reconfigure them dynamically based on a customer’s business requirements.

To implement the full vision – and indeed to move beyond NaaS to achieve the goal of agile, ubiquitous connected solutions – CSPs need to step back, consider what role they want to play in the evolving digital communications marketplace, then refresh their partnership and technology strategies.

How to capture NaaS’s promise and then move beyond it

To date, communications service providers’ implementations of NaaS have focused on increasing efficiency and agility in business and operations while improving business customers’ service experience. Key goals have been reducing network and support system complexity and giving customers more control over their services. But so far, CSPs have mainly used internally developed and/or proprietary APIs in their NaaS implementations, which limits their ability to partner.

CSPs’ challenge is how to realize the full promise of NaaS by expanding from “curated” and closed digital ecosystems to more open ones without losing control of their networking “crown jewels” – and while protecting service level agreements and not exposing the network to risk of failure or sabotage. The TM Forum Open APIs and Open Digital Architecture offer CSPs significant hope and promise to meet this challenge but also requires significant investment.

Once CSPs have mastered full NaaS implementation, they are not done: They must consider strategies for moving to an even more open “ecosystem of digital ecosystems” that supports their ability to provide ubiquitous, embedded connectivity and cements their important role in these ecosystems.

The latest TM Forum report discusses NaaS’s current state of play and why it is not an end but a necessary means to the goal of capturing future revenue growth opportunities. 

Download report

Creating a more robust digital ecosystem, with a much broader set of partners and developers, while truly decoupling the customer’s intent from the means of servicing that intent, are the next steps in the network-as-a-service journey. The introduction of standalone 5G, multi-access edge computing (MEC), network slicing and other new connectivity service enablers provides motivation to surmount the challenges of expanding NaaS.

Moving to the next phase of NaaS requires: 

  • Complete decoupling of the network from operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) and moving to a true intent-based customer sales and ordering process
  • Having the use of the right data (including inventory, topology, performance and policy data) at the right time and place to allow autonomous service creation and modification
  • Cloud-native IT and networks that allow service componentization and composition along with proper placement and re-placement of those components
    wherever makes the most sense
  • Enabling customer-centric processes with built-in security and some measure of proactive response to actual and predicted faults and threats
  • And perhaps most crucially, retraining the workforce to embrace a solutions-oriented mindset 

This level of business transformation can only come with vision and leadership from the top of the organization and significant industry collaboration to allow digital
ecosystems to be more open and interactions to be more automated.

Download the full report: NaaS: Where it is and where it’s going to explore more about NaaS, the benefits it provides and what it takes to implement connectivity-as-a-service. The report also contains case studies of how Orange, TELUS, Verizon and Vodafone are implementing NaaS, and what their future plans are beyond NaaS.

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