Network as a Service (NaaS): Keys to Successful Implementation


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As new technologies in cybersecurity, data storage and cloud capabilities emerge, agencies have begun reconsidering if their systems are working effectively to advance their mission. Verizon and GovExec recently joined experts to discuss how federal agencies, representing both civilian and defense, are adapting networks to keep objectives on track as they seek to support hybrid and remote work models. 

In a progressively digital world, in which individuals are free to create, share and store information virtually, networks need to be able to keep up with user demands. Moreover, with the growing use of cloud services in a remote/hybrid workforce and the need to modernize federal networks to enable and secure staff and agency data has never been more present. And as agencies look to make their services more accessible for those who need them, they’re keeping mobility at the forefront as they seek to transition to modernized technologies and procedures with network-as-a-service.

Strategic Planning and Setting Realistic Agency Goals

As mission objectives and staff needs evolve, technology and networks must evolve to keep up. 

NaaS allows a single provider to offer networking services and security services, resulting in tighter integration between network and security. This helps agencies garner control over and visibility into their network assets, allowing IT and security teams to manage and connect directly to cloud services while keeping a close eye on data and workloads. 

NaaS can help agencies meet these needs by enabling them to be more agile and reactive. With NaaS, agencies can deploy products and services in a modular and scalable package on-site and virtually.

Steven Hernandez, chief information security officer and director of Information Assurance Services for the U.S. Department of Education, noted that agencies shouldn’t just adopt new technologies for the sake of modernization, but should start by having a plan that best suits the needs of the agency and their mission. 

Once that plan is in place, agencies should start small and work their way forward carefully, measuring impact as they adopt new technologies along the way. “It can be as simple as implementing things like getting zero trust architecture and putting a software defined perimeter in while leveraging existing infrastructure,” he said. 

Secure Next-Generation Networks 

As these networks continue to underpin the technologies that warfighters and public servants rely on to deliver on the mission, defending those networks is key. NaaS can play a crucial role in securing the networks and workloads that warfighters rely on. 

“If you're going to pursue commercial solutions, whether it be NaaS or any other variant of cloud offering, [the agency] will still have the minimum requirements for the ability to see that data and respond to incidents in that environment,” Snoddy said. “It may end up costing us more in the long run. But from a pure data integrity standpoint, we have to pay very close attention to how our data is actually being handled.”

According to Lamont Copeland, director of federal solution architecture at Verizon, defending networks and connecting data to users are complementary. 

“When you're part of that NaaS infrastructure and construct, to be able to have those API's to share that data, regardless if it's from a security aspect, operational aspect, [or] health of the device, information is key and critical to helping defend the networks themselves,” Lamont said, emphasizing that effective security makes use of layering to defend it at multiple points. 

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