What Are the Key Differences and Similarities between NaaS and an MSP?

What Are the Key Differences and Similarities between NaaS and an MSP?

After introducing the concept of Network as a Service (NaaS), it is common for people to quickly associate it with Managed Service Providers (MSPs). However, it is important to delve deeper into these two concepts to understand their similarities and differences. This blog aims to provide a clear and detailed explanation of both NaaS and MSP, highlighting their distinctive characteristics.

The emergence of Network as a Service (NaaS) has sparked inquiries regarding its difference from and similarities to a Managed Service Provider (MSP), and how the two may work together.

Defining managed service provider and Network as a Service (NaaS)

For this blog, I will use the following definitions.

Managed service provider: A third-party company that remotely manages IT technology infrastructure, performing a defined set of day-to-day customized services. These services may include network and infrastructure management, security, and more. They may deliver their own native services in conjunction with other providers’ services.

Network as a Service: “NaaS is a standardized and highly automated delivery model for networking functionality. It offers support for dynamic scaling up and down of network resources. The NaaS vendor primarily owns and operates NaaS offerings. Pricing is on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics. Typically, self-service interfaces—including an API and a GUI—are exposed directly to customers.” (Source: Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Enterprise Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure, December 2022).

MSPs and NaaS: similarities and differences

What are the key similarities and differences between an MSP and Nile Access Service (NaaS by Nile)—and how can the two work together?

Outsourcing IT Services
NaaS by Nile MSP
Difference
Service offering Switched and wireless network solutions with integrated security (zero trust) and authentication. Offers a wide range of IT services.
Service offering Automated software and firmware updates, no coordination when no impact to network operations, and coordinated when services might be interrupted. Enhanced security and network capacity is always optimized with this service. Software and firmware are only updated when problems arise or when major security vulnerabilities arise. These operational practices create a less secure environment and reduce network capacity optimization.
Asset ownership Manufactures and owns the assets with full control over the lifecycle. Resells, rents, or leases other manufacturers’ equipment with no control of the lifecycle.
Life cycle ownership Owns the entire lifecycle of the equipment. Has no ownership of the lifecycle, limited to OEM timelines and priorities.
SLA/ guarantees network performance levels Built into the service model and available to customers to view 24x7x365 in real time. Covers availability, coverage, and capacity. Only available (if at all) for response time.
Hardware, software, and OS complexity Purpose-built hardware and software with control over OS feature set, size, and complexity. No control over hardware, software, or OS complexity.
Cost-effectiveness Complete control over the development, manufacturing, support platforms, networking infrastructure, automation, software efficiency, and currency of software and firmware. Creates a unique design, deployment, and run book for each customer. Requires a significant investment from the provider’s professional services organization. Each deployment creates a complex set of matrices of OS, hardware, and software that needs to be validated for each update.
Expertise Provides technology experts and expertise in networking, security, and authentication for day-to-day operations. Provides technology experts and expertise in the services offered for day-to-day operations.
Security Zero trust architecture is integrated by default and not as an add-on service. Security is an additional service that customers may purchase.
Security Security must be holistic ranging from a zero trust access model through protecting network traffic and elements from cyber threats to additional security measures that protect against things like malware proliferation.

Nile devices can only be activated via our app, no device has a console port or can be accessed via a user remote connection.

Devices are vulnerable to remote access and console port vulnerabilities.
Reduced complexity No configs for each device or complex config manual. Each device requires a customized config and requires a complex set of manuals and configuration parameters.
Reduced complexity Designed to be highly scalable from the outset. Customers can easily adjust their networking needs without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. Businesses need a flexible IT solution that can scale up or down as demand fluctuates. MSPs can provide additional resources and services quickly and can also reduce services when necessary.
Similarities
Reallocation of IT resources Networking professionals can be reassigned to more important organizational goals and mission. Multiple diverse IT resources can be reassigned to more important organizational goals and mission.
Reduced Complexity No need to design, deploy, and manage the day-to-day operations of the network. No need to design, deploy and manage the day-to-day operations of the services provided.
Cost-effectiveness Consumption-based approach; pay for what you use, based on users and square feet. Consumption-based approach; pay for the number of devices you need in your environment.
Operational
Expertise Provides technology experts and expertise for day-to-day operations.
Provides expertise in domains for which the customer may not be able to hire or may not have a justifiable need for an internal position.

As can be seen in the table above, certain categories are present in both the differences and similarities sections. This is intentional, as they sometimes offer comparable services. Although there are variations and some fundamental differences between an MSP and Nile Access Service, it's clear that their collaboration has substantial advantages. By using NaaS by Nial, an MSP can simplify its service offerings, resulting in cost and complexity reduction. Additionally, customers can enjoy faster innovation time and significant benefits.

Conclusion

In conclusion, NaaS and MSPs have distinct characteristics, but they can also work together to provide significant advantages. While NaaS focuses on delivering networking solutions with integrated security and authentication, MSPs offer a broader range of IT services. However, both NaaS and MSPs contribute to procuring IT services, reducing complexity, reallocating IT resources, and providing expertise for day-to-day operations. By leveraging NaaS by Nile, MSPs can streamline their service offerings, leading to cost and complexity reduction, while customers can benefit from faster innovation and overall improvements. The collaboration between NaaS and MSPs presents a promising approach for organizations seeking efficient and effective IT solutions.

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