It's Time for Networking to Join the Subscription Era

Rob Peterson, VP Global Sales, TenFour
Rob Peterson, VP Global Sales, TenFour

Rob Peterson, VP Global Sales, TenFour

Over the past few decades, the Digital Age has transformed the IT industry through rapid advancements of technology and mass digitization; but forward-thinking IT leaders should be aware of another evolutionary trend that is currently revamping our industry. Subscription models have already become commonplace in many areas of IT consumption. We don’t think twice about using a subscription service for our software applications, like Office 365, and companies across the globe have adopted cloud-computing platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud for their data center needs. Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service—all of these IT services have successfully transitioned to consumption models. Why has networking lagged behind other subscription model solutions?

The next evolutionary step in the subscription era has taken form but not yet gained speed. Large enterprise companies who’ve previously invested tremendous amounts in legacy technology infrastructure can be reluctant to adopt the OpEx style of Network as a Service (NaaS). However, by doing so they can eliminate the frustration and seemingly never-ending revolving door of annual capital planning. Small to mid-size businesses who have come of age with the Cloud, and are therefore strongly integrated in subscription and cloud-first strategies, have already begun to see the benefits of consuming network in a subscription model through the necessity of being flexible and nimble in their respective markets.

The Benefits of Pay-Per-Use

From a strategic business perspective, now is the perfect time to jump on the growing trend of subscription-based networking. Just as the Cloud and SaaS gained most of their popularity in the years following the dot-com crash of the early 2000s, making the switch to NaaS will be a key component in helping companies regain and build strength after the COVID-19 recession. Investment and consumption methods are changing in reaction to the economic blow of the pandemic. Large CapEx investments are being reprioritized or abandoned as business leaders realize the long-term financial benefits that an OpEx as-a-service model provides.

Apart from financial strategy, the operational benefits of adding a knowledgeable partner to your trusted team are indispensable in today’s environment of widespread staff shortages. As all businesses risk the loss of institutional knowledge and perpetual talent searching, using a subscription-based service for network activity can be a major asset. If you have limited staff or knowledge, you need to maximize your team’s time and energy on projects that drive business growth. Eliminating your staff’s pain points from duties like monitoring, repair, and refresh can be the strategic advantage that allows your in-house IT staff to build your next competitive breakthrough while garnering a greater level of service.

A Growing Opportunity for Success

There’s an opportunity for everyone here, regardless of organization size. The evolution of NaaS allows businesses to operate successfully without the need to have a full IT staff of their own, with one more benefit in the world of automation being freedom from repetitive tasks by shifting responsibility to a trusted partner. Some innovative tech companies like TenFour realized the need for this as-a-service model early on and have been delivering a premier networking experience to large and small companies for years.

As the demand grows, big players like HPE, Cisco, and IBM are going to market as well with subscription-based networking solutions. The NaaS market alone is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 33.05% globally from 2021 to 2026. It’s safe to say we can expect more and more businesses to appreciate that networking services don’t have to be a capital-intensive, one-off solution but can provide flexibility and resilience much like the Cloud, SaaS, and other subscription-based models have provided. After all, it’s not Frame Relay anymore.