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The Network Revolution: How NaaS Empowers Indian Businesses in a Digital Age

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VoicenData Bureau
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NaaS

Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)

The Indian business landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. Indians will consume the most data in the world by 2028 at 62GB per user per month, ahead of developed markets such as the US, Western Europe, South Korea, and China. As consumption skyrockets and Indian businesses gear up to scale, the need for networking solutions that can support this growth becomes paramount. Enter Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), offering a transformative approach to on-demand secure network services with superior uptime and built-in telemetry. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Future of Digital Infrastructure Sentiment Survey, 77% of enterprises stated that digital infrastructure was critical to them achieving their business goals. Notably, 63.7% of enterprises will commit resources, skills, and development efforts across one or more clouds to address infrastructure, data, and application needs. (source: IDC’s June 2022 Future Enterprise Resiliency and Spending Survey). With increasing cloud adoption, fuelled by rising internet penetration, a burgeoning smartphone user base, and government initiatives like Digital India, the demand for robust and agile network infrastructure has never been greater. In this sprawling landscape, where innovation thrives and competition surges, businesses face a critical imperative: to evolve or risk irrelevance. In this ever-changing environment, the emergence of Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) presents a great opportunity, offering a transformative approach to network management that redefines the very fabric of connectivity.

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NaaS and the Rise of the Cloud

One of the key drivers of the NaaS market in India is the growing demand for computing and storage on the cloud. As businesses increasingly rely on cloud-based applications and services, high-speed, reliable connections between data centers become critical. This trend is expected to accelerate the adoption of NaaS solutions in India further. In diverse sectors, including streaming services, healthcare providers offering telemedicine, online education platforms, retailers during sales events, and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, demand fluctuates significantly. For instance, streaming platforms see peaks during new releases, while healthcare providers experience spikes during public health emergencies. NaaS facilitates dynamic allocation of network resources, ensuring seamless operations during peak periods. In India, a prime example of businesses facing dynamic demand fluctuations and leveraging NaaS is online retailers like Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa, etc.  During major sales events like Big Billion Days or festive seasons such as Diwali, these e-commerce companies experience a massive surge in website traffic and transactions. NaaS enables these firms to efficiently allocate network resources and handle the increased load, ensuring seamless shopping experiences for millions of customers. Additionally, their reliance on NaaS allows them to scale their infrastructure efficiently to accommodate the growing number of users accessing the platforms, further highlighting the pivotal role of NaaS in managing network demands across diverse industries, including e-commerce in India.  Additionally, consider cloud-based gaming platforms like Dream 11, Mobile Premier League, etc that experience surges in demand during major gaming tournaments. NaaS enables them to swiftly adjust network resources to ensure uninterrupted gameplay experiences for users. These examples underscore NaaS's pivotal role in efficiently managing network demands across industries.

The Genesis of NaaS in India: A Response to Digital Evolution

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The Indian market, characterized by its diverse and rapidly growing digital economy, presents unique challenges and opportunities for network management. The traditional network infrastructure, with its capital-intensive nature and rigidity, often falls short of meeting the dynamic needs of businesses. Therefore, NaaS transcends the realm of a mere trend. It's a strategic imperative for companies in India seeking to grow in this digital age. Its significance lies in its ability to offer unprecedented agility, enabling companies to swiftly respond to market changes, scale operations up or down, and innovate faster. This agility is crucial for maintaining competitiveness in an environment where digital technologies evolve at an extraordinary pace.

Furthermore, NaaS democratizes access to advanced networking technologies for businesses of all sizes. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which constitute a significant portion of India's economy, can particularly benefit from NaaS. It allows them to compete on an equal footing with more giant corporations by accessing the same network infrastructure level without prohibitive costs.

The Competitive Edge: How NaaS Drives Business Success

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With on-demand purchasing, firms can be more cost-conscious and pay only for the necessary networking services. Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) can also enable organizations that need greater flexibility in provisioning without having to rearchitect networks or redo contracts from the ground up.

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the network as a service market was valued at USD 14.46 billion last year and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 32.36%, reaching USD 78.38 billion by the next five years, and this growth trajectory reflects the undeniable benefits NaaS offers:

  • Cost Optimization: NaaS eliminates the need for upfront capital expenditure on hardware and software. Through dedicated connectivity to the cloud, it is able to offer savings upwards of 30% for enterprises, and for select clouds and bandwidth volumes can save upwards of 50%.
  • Agility and Scalability: NaaS offers unparalleled flexibility. Businesses can quickly scale their network bandwidth and services up or down based on real-time needs. This agility proves crucial in a market characterized by rapid growth and evolving business demands. Through the ability to instantly provision connectivity in minutes, the option to upgrade or downgrade bandwidth in real-time, and the flexibility through commercial options like Pay-as-you-Go, NaaS allows enterprises to think, act, and adapt on the fly. Such attributes prove crucial in a market characterized by rapid growth and evolving business demands.
  • Enhanced Security: NaaS providers are security specialists. NaaS offers enterprises networking solutions which are private and protected paths of connectivity. These are completely removed from the public internet and its risks and therefore are more secure by design.
  • Streamlined Network Management: NaaS frees up valuable IT resources. NaaS solutions allow simple and immediate self-provisioning options for connectivity while being transparent. Users can, at the click of a button, add, subtract, and modify multiple connectivity endpoints, while maintaining the same Quality of Service, whether it’s a few megabits or multiple terabits. With network management outsourced to a reliable provider, internal IT teams can focus on core strategic initiatives that drive business growth.
  • Multi-point and hybrid connectivity: Virtual Routers today are an off-the-shelf option that instantly links multiple endpoints in any combination of data centers, Clouds, Internet Exchanges, and CDNs. It’s able to even eliminate the need for backhaul to the data center which further reduces latency.
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Overcoming Challenges: The Path Forward for NaaS in India

NaaS aligns perfectly with the Indian business landscape, particularly with the vibrant Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, which serves as one of the critical drivers of the economy. By empowering SMEs with enterprise-grade network solutions at an affordable price point, NaaS fosters innovation and growth, thus playing a pivotal role in bridging the digital divide in India. 

India's flourishing startup ecosystem also thrives on agility and innovation. NaaS perfectly complements this environment by offering flexible and scalable network infrastructure. Startups can adapt their network capacity as they grow, eliminating the need for upfront capital expenditure on expensive hardware and allowing them to focus resources on core product development and market expansion. Moreover, cloud-based network solutions can deliver reliable connectivity to remote areas, fostering inclusive growth and empowering rural businesses. 

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However, despite its numerous benefits, NaaS adoption in India faces challenges, including regulatory hurdles, data security concerns, and the need for digital infrastructure development. Overcoming these challenges requires concerted efforts from businesses, service providers, and policymakers. Education and awareness about NaaS benefits, investment in digital infrastructure, and favorable regulatory frameworks will be key to unlocking its full potential.

The Indian government's push for digitalization, including its ambitious 5G rollout plans, creates a fertile ground for NaaS adoption. A reliable and scalable network infrastructure is essential for these initiatives.

The Road Ahead: Embracing the NaaS Future

The future of Indian businesses is inextricably linked to a robust and agile network infrastructure. NaaS offers the key to unlocking this potential. As businesses navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, those who adopt Network as a Service (NaaS) will secure a competitive edge and thrive in the future. NaaS is no longer a futuristic concept - it's the present and future of network management for Indian businesses. By embracing NaaS, companies can unlock a world of cost savings, enhanced agility, and robust security, paving the way for success in the digital age. Additionally, NaaS enables seamless global connectivity, which opens doors to new markets and geographies, empowering businesses to expand on a global scale. 

Authored by Lalit Chowdhary, CTIO, Lightstorm India

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