Network as a Service: The changing face of NetOps

Next era of networking roles

Brace or embrace.  Slightly oversimplified, but in my estimation, those are two of the primary choices we all have when it comes to the change and evolution of our job roles.  For years, actually, decades is more accurate, network admins, architects, engineers, and strategists have experienced the familiarity of generally stable job descriptions.  All this, while other job roles in other industries continued evolving, adapting to new organizational models and technologies.

But over the past few years, networking infrastructure models and operations tools have morphed so significantly that now entire new roles are being created.  For example, look at some of these recent titles on job boards today—cloud engineer, machine learning engineer, director of SASE, and cloud integration architect.  Where are all of these coming from?

New networking models a catalyst for new roles

In this blog series, I continue sharing some thoughts on the key findings in our 2022 Global Networking Trends Report. In this research, we uncover how networking professionals across the globe are thinking about a major networking trend—Network as a Service (NaaS).  One of the survey questions we asked is what would be most important to include in a NaaS offering. Overwhelmingly, 48% said network lifecycle management.  Also in the top three were network resiliency (42%) and network monitoring and troubleshooting (38%).

Important services to include in a NaaS model
Fig 1: Important services to include in a NaaS model

What does this tell us?  Taking a closer look, think about lifecycle management and everything that it entails.  In a NaaS model, the provider takes care of deploying, integrating, controlling, updating, monitoring, and repairing the network infrastructure.  That’s a rather encompassing list. And for IT leaders, it’s also quite compelling.

Now ask yourself, how much time do networking pros spend performing these activities?  Then there are the day-to-day network monitoring and troubleshooting tasks.  Again, what percentage of a networker’s time do these consume?  If we take just these items together, it’s fair to say that a major reason that new roles are being created is because the requirements for managing the network in these emerging networking models are changing.  As I discussed previously, given the time back, many networking leaders will refocus their teams’ energies on innovation and new projects.

Fig 2: NaaS creates opportunities for innovation and new projects

In a recent podcast, I spoke with Phil Maynard, a Director of Product Management in the Network Services Business Unit. We discussed some of the implications of a NaaS model on network operations.  A pilot and flight instructor himself, Phil related an analogy comparing the NaaS model to how advances in technology have also changed the activities required by pilots flying modern aircraft today.  Many of the instruments in the cockpit have advanced from manual and analog to digital and automated.  And because those capabilities are more sophisticated, the result is that the operations and processes evolve from manual control inputs to supervision of automation.  Similarly, in a NaaS model, even as some day-to-day tasks are offloaded, the requirement for institutional networking knowledge and expertise remains critically important to supervise and optimize the network‘s business outcomes in lockstep with the NaaS provider.

It’s our journey together

Every organization has a unique culture, and different levels of change management and training will be required as the networking landscape evolves. And as the face of Network Operations changes, it’s important for those who are embracing the new opportunities to also support our colleagues who may be a little more hesitant.  We’re all better when we navigate these industry changes together.

Read the full report

2022 Global Networking Trends Report: The Rise of Network as a Service

 

Additional Resources

Need to get up to speed on NaaS?  Check out these helpful resources:

Should you journey to Network as a Service? – Podcast

Network as a Service Buyer’s Checklist – White paper

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