Survey: NaaS Is Growing with Hybrid Workforce


By: Mary Jander

With pressure building to connect the hybrid workforce to the cloud in a secure way, enterprise technology leaders will continue their investments in cloud connectivity, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions for hybrid work, and network-as-a-service (NaaS), according to some new research from Aryaka Networks.

These same tech professionals will look for network connectivity solutions that can deliver both performance and security in these missions, with cloud services driving the need for more dynamic connectivity.

The results show that despite supply chain woes, war in Ukraine, and fallout from the recent banking crisis, CIOs, CISOs, and IT leaders are intent on growing their cloud estates. A full 98% said they are increasing their investment in cloud services. Indeed, 47% are accelerating adoption of cloud and network solutions.

These are among the findings of the survey published by Aryaka Networks in its Enterprise Network Transformation Report this week. The vendor recently polled 230 C-level, VP, and director-level executives at a range of large firms located in the U.S. (128) and internationally (102) in the U.K., Germany, and India.

Hybrid Work Changes Everything

The COVID-19 pandemic, which catalyzed the mass migration to “work from anywhere,” changed the IT outlook forever. A full 99% of respondents to Aryaka’s survey said that hybrid work has changed how they view managing networks and security. And 58% reported that they need plans for a hybrid workforce “immediately.”

Source: Aryaka

But there are obstacles. Chief among these are impediments to network connectivity, specifically complexity of the network (reported by 83% of respondents) and limits on knowledge and expertise (a factor for 64%). According to the findings, IT leaders must be masters in cloud, networking, and security – a skillset that’s tough to find but increasingly necessary. As the report states:

“The network pro needs to understand cloud. The security person needs to care about application performance. The monitoring guru needs to do more than just monitor; they need to take action…. [T]he days of picking between security and performance are behind us.”

This dovetails with survey responses to a question about the most critical area of improvement for the 2023 budget: Network security was named by 36%; network performance by 35%; and network monitoring by 29%.

MPLS Out, Telcos Toppled

In viewing the network required to support cloud and security needs, IT pros are moving away from legacy routed networks based on multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). Indeed, 62% of those surveyed plan to eliminate it from their networks in favor of solutions such as software defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN); another 29% will continue to use it. Just 7% said they’d invest more in it.

The shift away from MPLS comes with a fresh interest in managed services as opposed to WAN services from a telco provider. Over half of respondents (55%) said they’d likely choose non-telco providers or a combination of both telcos and non-telcos for SD-WAN services.

The alternative to telcos is managed services or NaaS. The latter allows enterprises the flexibility to obtain services on demand. The choice of a service also allows IT staff to focus on issues other than keeping the network running.

Unpacking SASE

The shift to SD-WAN is accompanied by a requirement for SASE, the marriage of network and security in one platform. When asked to rank SASE functions, 30% of respondents said cloud access service broker (CASB) would be their first or second preference. Zero trust network access (ZTNA), secure Web gateway (SWG), and advanced threat protection (ATP) were each named by 25% of respondents as their first and second choices.

Source: Aryaka

In conclusion, the Aryaka survey indicates that high-level IT professionals insist on security and networking as priorities in the ongoing migration to cloud. NaaS and managed services that support SD-WAN and SASE fit the bill and are apt to replace legacy MPLS-based telco services quickly as enterprises expand their cloud estates.

As the survey concludes: “Technology leaders see a crucial need for cloud investment, hybrid work, the need for better applications performance, the need for better security, the decline of MPLS, and the arrival of NaaS as key long-term investments.”