What is NaaS & NaaP? And how does network exposure facilitate these models in the operational and monetization opportunities on the public cloud? For CSPs, this could spell augmented connectivity.
Network exposure is in today’s networks, an unavoidable topic that generate a great level of interests. It is nonetheless a large subject holding multiple facets to it. Network/service exposure is about allowing any telecoms industry players to make their network capabilities (data, network functions, apps) available for customers and partners for reciprocal enrichments.
The inception of 5G has propelled the telecoms industry into a new era where CSP monetization doesn’t anymore only takes its value from its infrastructure service assets (network elements, fiber, and optical structure). Enrichment would be ensured when coupled with cloud-native, flexible, and scalable capabilities to structure and de-structure services at will then to facilitate its end-to-end billing and management, its exposure to 3d parties, and vice-versa, and overall security.
Thus, exposure can be approached in various ways, the most notable ones are 5G exposure with NEF (Network Exposure Function), Naas (Network as a Service) and NaaP (Network as a Platform).
Let’s explore how Amdocs Networks addresses these most interesting points.
The world of 5G exposure with NEF (Network Exposure Function)
The development from 4G to 5G has been accompanied by a large technical shift from hardware/virtualization-centric services to a rapid cloud-native transition, which has resulted in the introduction of a truckload of 5G Network capabilities and increased complexity. Network Exposure Function (NEF) is a function that enables the secure exposure of network services and capabilities to third parties, such as clients and business partners.
NEF provides several significant features:
- Provide a proxy filter for trusted and untrusted parties to protect the exchange with other 5G Core Network operations
- Extend multi-vendor views by externalizing network or service capabilities via APIs;
- Guarantee scalability by employing Restful APIs that facilitate network or service capability exposure and alignment with standard organizations; (MEF, TMF, CAMARA and proprietary)
- Increase 5G-based collaboration with partner CSPs, enterprises, hyperscalers, and metaverse ecosystems.
- Enhance the monetization of 5G and next-generation services by strengthening end-to-end solutions such as Mobile Private Networks and even Network slicing.
- Extend all monetization opportunities and interactions with PCF and CHF 5G network functions.
The world of augmented connectivity: Network-as-a-Service
Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) would rent networking/connectivity services from network, cloud, and mobile network operators. In this cloud service paradigm, NaaS enables users to operate their own networks without acquiring or maintaining their own networking infrastructure. NaaS solution providers are transitioning from a hardware-centric to a network disaggregation strategy, which would enable organizations to set up their own networks based solely on software.
NaaS is essentially an enhanced version of connectivity services, which may initially be based on connectivity medium such as fiber, optical, copper, or wireless. It would then be linked with underlay or overlay networking technologies designed to offer virtual private networks, such as MPLS, SR-VPN, EVPN, Carrier-Ethernet, or SD-WAN. It is then augmented with security components or other essential components, such as Security, uCPE, or unified communications, to create a turnkey service offering.
The key advantages of NaaS:
- Adaptability: as software-based modifications to the network and NaaS offerings are anchored to a BSS/OSS service infrastructure
- Scalability: It is recognized that cloud services, such as NaaS, are more scalable than hardware-based services.
- Accessibility from anywhere: Depending on how a cloud-based network is created and managed, users may be able to access it from anywhere.
- Bundled with security: NaaS enables a single service provider to deliver networking and security services like SASE (Secure Access Service Edge).
- CAPex to OPex network evolution: As the buyer acquires a cloud service as opposed to constructing one, there is a shift from a CAPex-based to an OPex-based service.
How does the architecture of NaaS differ from that of NaaP as a bundled offering?
Networking services tailored to your choices: Network-as-a-Platform
Today's MNO/CSP service architecture consists of the following capabilities: BSS, OSS, monitoring & data observability, Apps & network functions, virtualized and Cloud infrastructure, connectivity, and hardware infrastructure assets. Such a collection of capabilities can be automatically structured, categorized, and exposed via APIs. Providing the ability to elevate such a combination as a set of APIs could improve the very next generation of telecom service infrastructures to a new level.
Figure: Network as a platform example
To address such a high level of choice and open possibility for dynamic service creation, a seamless integration is required between several orchestration and automation-enabling components: APIs Gateway, network catalogue, network & service orchestration, Service fabric, and event monitoring & analytics. As represented in the preceding image, the requirement of such a layer, particularly for network exposure, would then be to bind all these functions together. This ensures some alignment with the standard API strategy and requirements with various standard organizations as highlighted (MEF, TM Forum, Open APIs, CAMARA and proprietary).
As discussed in this paper, network exposure can be viewed as a multifaceted monetization cube, with each aspect reflecting different approaches to increase service infrastructure monetization. 5G transition has been a key component of the telecoms industry's effort to rethink how services and infrastructure were codified, using cloud-native, collaboration, and orchestration concepts not just to increase operational efficiency but also to accelerate B2B and B2B2X solutions.
The evolution towards network exposure necessitates a degree of customization that is not fully available out of the box. This level of customization is provided by professional service and service integration, which ensures that the integration of such OSS capabilities matches the service architecture of MNOs/CSPs and enabling them to differentiate themselves significantly from the competition.