Can network-as-a-service handle emerging business needs?

That's the question IT teams are wondering as they consider the new model of consuming networking technologies, according to a new Cisco report.

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The chief reason IT teams would move to a network-as-a-service (NaaS) model would be to enable the latest networking technologies, according to a new survey from Cisco. The emerging networking consumption model promises to help organizations deploy technologies such as Wi-Fi 6, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), secure access service edge (SASE), 5G, AI and more.

At the same time, IT leaders and professionals are somewhat skeptical that NaaS with help them keep up with changing business demands, the Cisco report shows. 

While there's still uncertainty and varying opinions on the value of NaaS, organizations are embracing it at a fast rate. NaaS adoption is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 40.7% from 2021 through 2027. For that reason, Cisco focused its 2022 Global Networking Trends Report on NaaS adoption. The report is based on a survey of 20 IT leaders and 1,534 IT professionals in 13 countries.

Network resiliency is top of mind for IT teams, the report shows: 45% say responding to disruptions is the top network challenge of 2021, while 40% cited accommodating new business needs.

To some extent, NaaS is perceived as a way to accommodate new business needs: A plurality of respondents, 35%, said their top reason for embracing NaaS would be the requirement to continually deploy the latest networking technologies. 

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Cisco

In line with their concerns about business resiliency, 30% cited the ability to defend against security threats, and 29% cited the need for greater network agility. 

However, when asked to name their main concerns with deploying a NaaS model, the top answer was whether it would offer the ability to support unexpected demands. As many as 30% of respondents questioned whether they will be able to meet future demands if they adopt NaaS.

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Cisco

Meanwhile, 28% of respondents said the cost and disruption associated with changing their existing infrastructure and operations were concerns. Additionally, 26% cited losing control over security. 

When considering the services that come with NaaS, nearly half of respondents (48%) said it was most important for providers to deliver network lifecycle management. That was followed by network resiliency (42%), and monitoring and troubleshooting to meet SLAs (38%).