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Network as a service (NaaS) is a term that has arisen in the pantheon of software as a service (SaaS) options that are now popular in today's enterprise IT world. Network as a service consists of offering network functionality on a subscription basis, often through the cloud. Network as a service providers virtualize the network setup and give customers the ability to utilize a network that is not really set up in on-premises hardware.
Network as a service arose out of a very specific IT phenomenon. Around 2015, companies started to look more closely at the concept of SDN or software-defined networking. As this software-defined networking advanced, instead of utilizing hardware switches and nodes to drive network activity, companies started to virtualize the network process and use virtual logic entities to control the network. Network control became more centralized. Companies figured out how to untether network functionality from the physical infrastructure that used to be a prerequisite for company networking.
Network as a service represents a specific benchmark in the IT field, where it is no longer necessary to have physical servers and hardware running out of a business location in order to enjoy all of what those servers and hardware did for companies in traditional networking setups. With network as a service, a lot of the network administration can also be outsourced, giving a company flexibility and freedom to manage a network with less in-house technical expertise. Network as a service will continue to be one of the most interesting new IT options for companies that want to do more in terms of a software architecture, without hiring engineers and building physical hardware setups.