The Art of Network Engineering

Ep 117 - What is Network as a Service?

April 12, 2023 A.J., Andy, Dan, Tim, and Lexie Episode 117
The Art of Network Engineering
Ep 117 - What is Network as a Service?
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we talk about Network As A Service. What is it, what problem does it solve and if it's going to render network engineers obsolete.


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This is the Art of Network Engineering podcast.

In this podcast, we'll explore tools, technologies, and technology people. We aim to bring you information that will expand your skill sense and toolbox and share the stories of fellow network engineers. So glad that I cut the CapEx cord. I mean, paying for all those features up front that I may not ever use and driving them until the wheels fell off was exhausting. Now I can just fire up my cloud computer and sign up for as many subscription services as I want.

And I'm almost positively 100% not certain at all that I'm paying just as much as I was before. But hey, that's fine. Oh, look, a new app. Network is a service? I wonder what this button does. Find out that and more in this episode of the art of network engineering. Thank you, Tim. I am AJ Murray at No Blinky Blinky, one of your co-hosts for this evening. That was another beautiful Tim intro. You know, when I edit the videos, if you don't go to our YouTube channel, when I edit the videos.

I do a special edit of just Tim's intro. Sometimes I add some funny sounds, some background music, whatever, and there's a whole thread of those on our YouTube channel. You just go watch every single one of Tim's beautiful intros. So if you're not subscribed, go do that now. We hit 3K this week. Woo! We hit 3K on our YouTube channel. Yay. Woohoo! Yay. Oh my god. Andy, your goat needs new batteries. It's dead.

Goat remix! Mine's dead too. His too! Oh my god! It's good we don't sell these things in our merch store. Hang on. I have a whole closet full of them. I think I have 20 of them in that door behind me. I have two out in my dining room. Each of my kids have one and there's work. It's from all the winning we've had, guys. Is Tim's alive? Yay! It's been like 50 episodes. Subscribers. Since we heard that. He is Matt Damon. Andy, how you doing? So we're in it.

We're all friends here, right? Can I ask a question? Most of the time. Yeah. So we're in the trust tree, right? In the place with the trust. Yeah. I mean, it's in everybody watching right now in the live stream now. So would you guys consider pantyhose to be an inappropriate word to use in everyday parlance? Is that not a normal? If somebody says pantyhose, what's your reaction? Word to use or where? No, just a word.

I said pantyhose tonight to my wife and she like fell out. She's like, what are you talking about pantyhose? They're stockings. And I'm just curious if that's a wife-ism. She just decided that that was strange or if the world doesn't use pantyhose. Stockings are different than pantyhose. They can be made of pantyhose material.

That's why I love you, Lex. I can go back to her and say, I was right. They're two different things. Don't get me on your wife's bad side. Oh, you're in. You're in. She works on rockets. She knows what she's talking about. Oh no. So besides getting teased for using pantyhose tonight, the word, I am good AJ. We haven't had a panel of four of us, I think for a little while, I haven't seen all these wonderful faces. This is great. I love this. Me too. It's exciting to just have the core.

know, team back. Dan's still part of the team. And he will be back. He told us today he will be back. So that's exciting. He's been working on some very big projects at work that have been keeping him very busy that and having two kids in the evening, but he's going to find a way. And he has promised that he will be back. So we are counting down the days before Dan comes back. Those howdy packets, the dead timers have not expired yet. Our dead timer is about set to six months.

It's a slow burn. It's a slow, it's slower than BGP. That's howdy-pack it. Oh my god, that's great. Lexi, Lexi Cooper, Track It Pacer, how you doing? J. Murray, hello. I'm good. I had a good day today. It's a good time in network land. Yeah. Yeah. Anything in particular you can- I can't talk about it. Wait, I think we can talk about something. I knew you couldn't. I was just asking to be polite.

There's something that was publicly announced that I'm super stoked about that maybe we could talk about. Oh, Andy. Yeah. Yeah, okay. Tell us. I don't want to tell it. It's your news. Where's your rocket going, Lex? See, now I have to sort out public versus not public. Oh, never mind. We can- No, it's fine. Our rocket's going to help study Mars. We're going to launch some NASA- Going to Mars. The rocket itself-

I'm not totally in the know of exactly the trajectory. The rocket itself is probably not going to Mars. Well, it has to go toward Mars to get the payload there. It's going to go very far. It's going to be Mars-ish. It's not going to moon. Yeah, it'll go to Mars-ish. Yes. Do you need me to read the announcement to you? New Glenn is sending stuff to Mars. So I am super excited for you. That is amazing. I know how hard you've been working on this all this time.

Yeah, the fact that I did not know your stuff was going to go to Mars. So I just jumped up and down when I saw that. So that's amazing. Yeah, we're very proud and excited for our little rocket to do all the exciting things. We've got an exciting lineup of payloads that I can't talk about. For the first number, X number of missions, it's going to be actually insane. Which mission are you sending Matt Damon to Mars on?

Have you seen the movie? No? Yeah. Oh, Martian. Yeah, I was trying to think of something clever. It was a movie with Matt Damon on Mars. Nevermind. Moving on. Sorry, Lex. The potato. We'll set them up there with a bunch of potatoes. Exactly. Yeah, no, we're really excited. So that's great news. I can say that. But yeah, everything's good. I had a good day today. Hardware is working where it needs to work. And yeah. How's your home lab? Home lab is plugged in and loud.

Dude, it's so loud. I have... They are. I'm not trying to... I'm not trying to hate at all, but one of the switches in particular, I have three of these in my lab at work, okay? And they are not combined. They are not as loud as the singular same switch that I have in my home lab here. And I can't figure out if it's because it's at my house and so it just sounds louder or if there's something wrong with this particular one, which I did get secondhand. So it's definitely possible that there's something wrong with it.

But does the switches name rhyme with Schmarrista? No. It's no. Do you want me to just say it? I think it's Huniper. I had, I had, I had somebody come to me and tell me how loud a certain vendors switches were and I found out that their prof their fan profile is it runs at like 85% with nothing going on. Like there's no anyway. Oh, well, I must be talking about Crisco Nexus.


So yes, home labs are loud. They pull a lot of power and they generate a fair amount of heat depending on what you're running. But it looks like you're... Yeah. Is it fair to say that the beefier in general, the beefier the device, the louder the fans are? Yeah. Well, they're going to generate more heat. Then this is definitely the beefiest, I would say. Well, I'm guessing it's the beefiest one that I will ever have in my home lab, probably. Do you have anything hooked up yet or are you still just racking and...

Yeah, I have things hooked up. I learned how to factory reset a couple of them the other day. But I realized I don't know what I want to do with them except for plug them into the O Scope. So now I'm at a barrier where I need to figure out how this 90s aged O Scope is how it works. That sentence is making sense at all. It's an O Scope from the 90s.

Which I am very happy to have. It looks really awesome, but I don't know how to work it. And so I have to figure out how it works. Are you investigating link pulses? Actually? Yeah, that's the first thing I want to do. Cause it's the only thing I know how to do. So I have this, um, abomination of a cable. I'm sorry, podcast listeners, you're not going to be able to see this. So go to YouTube, but, um, I have this abomination of a cable that I have split out into the, the eight, uh, the pairs of wires, right? The four pairs of wires, um, that I will scope.

the green and orange pairs to look for fast link pulses for auto negotiation with the scope. Hopefully I can figure that out. We'll see. I've been enjoying your home lab journey on your, um, what are you on now? TikTok. Tickety talks. Thanks Andy. Did you, did you get a TikTok Andy? No comment. We're so proud of you. You want to know, see, all right, nevermind. We don't have time for this. I, I have been following everything Lexie's... But we're just going to anyway.

I have been following, we're doing a freaking talk show. I have been following everything Lexi's been doing from the beginning. I wound up on Twitch against my own will. I love you, Amy. I wound up on every other damn platform that she winds up on. And when I saw our TikTok stuff on Instagram, it was like sped up and weird. And so I created a TikTok just to watch her, but then decided to delete it, but then didn't because it's Lex. And so I'm kind of in a weird world, Tim, of like, I created one and then I'm like,

I know I could be a Tiki talker, but I think I'm just getting. You could be actually nudge nudge, wink wink. We might be tick tockers as a podcast at some point. Are we taking talking now? When I get my shit together. I'm working on I'm working on I'm working on some editing things and getting our videos cool for like, we'll see. I added it all day today at work. So to appease daddy AJ, I will shut up. How you doing AJ? Oh, good. Thank you.

Tim, how are you? Wait a minute. Wait, wait. How's photography? You can't do that. How's your drones? You know, I wish I could tell you. It's been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks. Sickness is blowing through my house at the moment. And I'm pretty excited because I'm using my camera right now. And this is the most I've touched it in, I don't know, a week and a half. I forgot what my drone looks like. Its batteries are probably dead. And it's probably crying in my camera bag. So. So you're on the fancy camera now? Yeah. Nice, man. I thought you looked.

little extra dapper tonight. Extra crispy? It's that. I wasn't gonna go there, but okay. It's like 4K, so you can probably see each and every stubble if you look real close. It's great. Very manly, very manly. Tim Bertino at Tim Bertino. How you doing, Tim? Hi, I'm good.

I actually just got to do a speaking engagement at the college I graduated from. Oh, that's right. I remember seeing that. Did they record it? Are we going to be able to see it? No. Well, unfortunately, we had some nasty weather yesterday, so I had to phone it in. But the funny thing was, is probably the biggest compliment I got was my microphone. People were asking what kind of microphone it was. Yeah, the talk was cool, but hey, what kind of microphone do you got?

So the talk was about what? I talked about some of the tools that are out there for moving your career forward, such as like the IT communities that are out there, content creation, talked about blogging. In fact, on the social media side, I talked about Twitter for a little bit and actually brought up you, Andy, and you, Lexi, and talked about the stories of like, Lexi, how your Twitter bio at one point was basically, I want...

I'm going to work at NASA someday and how that really sparked a conversation with people and got you talking with others and Andy, same with you. Well, not at NASA at this point, although we now know that Matt Damon can make it to Mars. Andi and I are both competing for who's going to be an astronaut first. First, yeah. Yeah. He's got the right haircut. I mean, give him that. All I ever wanted to be was an astronaut and it didn't work out, but I guess there's still time like he's saying.

If I can sneak under a rocket, you can too. And then with Andy talking about technical marketing, engineering, and how that really sparked other conversations and led to where he's at today. So that was cool. And also talked about blogging and kind of offered up, hey, if anybody is wanting to get into that kind of thing, doesn't want to start their own site, we can talk and they can potentially write on art of and that kind of stuff. So it's awesome.

It was cool. I can't wait to get actually physically up there and do something in person, but it was a cool experience. Very cool. Did the college record that? Is that going to be posted anywhere? I don't think so. Bummer. But yeah, next time. My college just sends me letters asking me for donations. Yeah, there's that too. Nobody's asking me to come. You're not alone. Yeah. Cool. Wow. Very awesome, Tim. Way to give back to your alma mater. All right.

Well, tonight we are talking about network as a service. And boy, there's lots of different meanings for that. To start the conversation, Lexi posted a tweet online a few days ago asking what her followers thought network as a service was. And she got some great responses. Lexi, can you share a few of them? Yeah, so my original tweet, it did not mean.

necessarily for this to turn into wrong answers only, but it kind of did and it was awesome. So the original tweet was just, Hey, hello, what the fuck is network as a service in parentheses NAS? Do you pronounce it? Wait, do you guys pronounce it like NAS or software as a service SAS? Or are we just saying S A A S P A A S NAS? All right. So I asked, I asked what the fuck it is, right? I pronounce it NAS. Of course you would. Oh, you're fancy, huh? Okay.

All right. Well, I asked what it is and here are some of my favorite answers from people. Our buddy, Pete Lumbas, he said, a large mouthed freshwater fish. Brad Ramo said, just another thing to blame the network for. Bitcode said, for example, someone visits my home. I let them into my wifi. I charge them. LOL. Tada! NAS. A lot of people answered...

You're ISP. A lot of other people said, you mean the rapper, which is in reference to Lil Nas X. There's Nas. Andy was right all along. Lil Nas. Yeah. Someone else said, okay, instead of running on your tiers like a normal network, you have one that runs on your credit card with a bunch of emojis after it. Nice. Samuel Munoz said, just a fancy name for VLANs.

Someone else said, it actually stands for nothing as a service. If you don't pay, yeah. It could be nothing as a service. Bryce Katz said, it's a grift, I think, because it sounds like a grift. Someone else, security savage said, the smell of burning electronics. Someone else said, that rapper who only needs one mic. I think that's Lil Nas X, I don't know. Lucy is Opal said, it's where you pay someone to send your packets for you.

hand-crafted artisanal packets. Artisanal. I like it. Nice. Somebody else, Roro Hacks said, somebody needs to tell them that Naas is a town in Ireland. So I looked it up. Apparently it is. Mahoon Meir said- Yeah, the Loch Naas. Scotland. Sorry. Sorry, way off. No, that's good. That's good. No one answered that. That's good. Mahoon Meir said, when your Wi-Fi password isn't as strong or non-existent and your neighbor uses it, that's network as a service.

A bunch of people said, sounds like a dating app. Another couple of people said tax loophole. And then Dada Goon said an IP sec tunnel with a vendor in the middle. Pretty spicy takes. There's some other good ones. I could not list them all because there are so many. Oh, oh, shout out to honorable mention John Majors. He

went into chat GPT and asked it to generate a conversation between Cookie Monster and Elmo where Cookie Monster is trying to convince Elmo to sign up for network as a service and he posted screenshots of this conversation. Oh my God. It's amazing. I missed that one. I can't read it all. All right. Please go, please go check it out. So, so good. So thank you everybody who responded to that. It made my week.

That's incredible. I'm going to have to go back and look at that later. So that's not what we're talking about tonight. Where this conversation started was about a month ago, Tim and I were at Network Field A30 along with some other content creators. And the topic, the theme that kept coming up from quite a few of the presenters was network as a service. And so to now properly define that, there are a couple of different variations of this.

And some of it has to do with cloud services. You can swipe the old credit card and you can get VPNs, firewalls, you can get all sorts of networking services that you pay for, various consumption models, depending on what you're looking for. And then there's the network as a service that these companies were referencing. And what we're going to talk about tonight, where as an enterprise, you can pay for switches

and other networking devices to be installed and it is 100% remotely managed, monitored, operated by somebody else. Now, this is not a new model. This has been around for a long time. It's common, you know, early on, I think you could bring your own switches, right? If you already had the network in place, you could pay somebody to then kind of take it over for you, monitor it, take care of it, operate it. But...

Now, the models that we've heard about recently include things like hardware, where you could think of your switches like an iPhone, where you have your monthly service that you pay for and then you have your hardware costs. And after you've made your hardware costs, you're now eligible for an upgrade to that new shiny device. And so we want to kind of kick it around here a little bit to discuss, you know, what does that look like for us in the future? Now, there's lots of new pieces around today that weren't around when, you know,

this version of network as a service, I guess, was first started. So it looks much different today. And will those differences benefit enterprise? Tim, I'd love to start with your take. Yeah, I think the key part of it is that makes it more network as a service versus just leasing gear is the management and operation piece of it. So I think one of the value propositions of NAS is

that you also have, there's a cloud managed piece to it, right? So you have all of the gear that you pay a subscription fee for, and then you're given this essentially this cloud portal that can manage or control your network. And enterprises can either decide to manage that themselves or they can farm it out to an MSP and they can be completely hands off. So that's my take on it. I know there's some other potential. I mean, it's like any marketing industry term, there's going to be different

ways to interpret it. But that's how I interpret it. And now I'm just kind of trying to figure out who really... I'm interested to hear what everybody else has to think. Who really is the target for this? Because one thing that was brought up at Networking Field Day from Jordan Martin, who used to host, I think it became the underlay before it was Network Collective. He brought up a good point that this is most likely would not be a fit for

companies that use their network as a differentiator. So I think companies like service providers where their moneymaker is their network, they're probably not gonna farm that out and have that as a service that somebody else manages. So in my mind, this is probably small to medium size organizations that really just don't wanna have to manage that on their own. They're either maybe a startup that...

doesn't want to have to have a full networking team. They don't really care what is at the core of the network. They just want to move packets around or companies that are potentially looking at outsourcing certain things. And they just, they don't want to have to spend the time and effort on building and maintaining networks. That's my take. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think a lot of that is everything's included, right? Like the identity and access management, you're going to get the 802.1X in there.

At least in some of the solutions that were presented to us, right? It was everything. Absolutely everything. Andy, Lexi, any thoughts on? I'm interested in how this ties into the cloud. The cloud, right? Cloud services. All the as a service are cloud things, correct? Everything that's as a service is the stuff that now lives in the cloud, then you consume it that way instead of installing on-prem. That's my impression. Is that accurate?

I don't think that's wrong by any means, no. It's hard to talk about network as a service without referencing the cloud. And I know AJ, we're going to constrain it to the enterprise, leasing the gear and the management of it. But in the research I did, there is this, and it's a problem, I guess, in tech marketing, but it didn't seem all that clear to me, right? Like, so there are some companies that I've worked with in the past at other jobs.

that sell connectivity at co-locations. You can do a cross-connect and then they'll connect you to any of their other places that they're in a colo. That company is selling network as a service. To me, it's an ISP, you're cross-connecting to it at colo. I don't know if this is marketing because it's becoming a hot topic and they're like, well, we're selling layer two or layer three connectivity so it's network as a service. You're an ISP, you're basically my WAN. So I just, I'm just saying that to- Yeah, that's where-

Yeah, go ahead. It ties a lot of people, a lot of people who weren't really aware of NAS as a thing have answered, oh, that just sounds like an ISP, right? So I totally understand that answer because that's also sort of what it sounds like to me. Jordan Martin started that NFT. So I watched that NFT recently and he started it with referencing a cloud-based controller, I guess, right? Like the brains of your network is going to be in a cloud, it's remote. So like there's the cloud tie-in, right? Like at the very beginning, I guess.

the brains. So the control plane isn't sitting on the switch, right? You're, you're moving the control plane out to some centralized management system. And I know, um, so there's a, again, we're not going to bring up specific vendors here, right? This is like a sponsored episode, but I saw another vendor at that NFD or a similar NFD, but presenting NAS, and they have an AI offering and they kind of presented it as that.

you can pay us a subscription service to get access to our AI managed infrastructure system. Right. So, you know, there's just different definitions. And then to your point, AJ, you can lease, just like a smartphone, you can lease your network iron from someone, have an MSP come in, set it all up for you. They manage it remotely. I guess there's a NOC somewhere that watches your stuff. And, you know, what I don't understand, I guess, is just because I know how expensive networking iron can be, how...

Like, I don't know how a company doing this, not consuming the networking as a service, but selling it. Like, I don't know how they would get a return on their investment. You know, like if, I mean, this gear is expensive. Now AJ, you would say we were talking on the side, like, well, you just divide it by the term, right? Like a smartphone, if it's 1500 bucks, they divide it by 24 payments and then, and then you're done. So maybe that's what they're doing. The biggest driver- Yeah, like as a per packet that people are using. I mean, it sounds a lot like a cloud business model to me.

honestly, like how do cloud providers get their money? Which is a business decision, right? Like, Tim, you had mentioned budget at the NNFD too, but so I'll shut up after this, but it seems to me, and I've heard this at my, you know, my new job in Venderland is it seems that customers are very interested in shifting away from the CapEx model where you spend...

half a million, a million dollars every couple of years, they want to shift that CapEx to Opex so that they want to spread that pain out over time, I guess. And networking as a service, I guess, is an answer to that, right? So it's cloud, like public cloud. You can build a data center or you can give us your credit card and just consume what you want and we'll bill you there. So that seems to be the biggest thing is just moving CapEx for businesses, right? People that would consume this. But like Tim, you help manage a budget somewhere. I mean, does that ring true for you? Would that be helpful instead of spending?

$2 million every five years spreading that pain out in 24 payments. Just as an example, not saying what you're doing at work. I think organization to organization, it's going to be a cultural fit with, with how finance wants to handle that. I mean, you mentioned, uh, from, from the, uh, the service provider side, I mean, looking at business goals from, from a consumer side, the fit to me seems to be customers that are less concerned with.

the cost and more concerned with being able to offload that network operation. So networking isn't something that whatever target organization is, it's not a business driver for them. They're making widgets or selling services or whatever, and they just want to push that off. Personally, from a consumer side, I don't see companies buying into NAS as a cost savings measure.

I wouldn't see it necessarily costing less than outright purchasing the gear with CapEx. I think that maybe on the finance side, what some companies are thinking is just similar. This is going to sound really counter, but similar yet different than what the vendors and the service providers are selling. So what do vendors want? What are all the vendors doing right now? They're going subscription-based.

They want that known recurring revenue. Well, we'll say it again. It's a big deal. Yeah, it's a big deal. They want that. That's a way that they can prove to shareholders that we know we have this amount of money coming on a yearly basis. And we're just going to grow upon that. And very quickly, to interject some context there for listeners that might not have that insight, because I just learned it in the past few months. I guess if you're a publicly traded company,

Wall Street wants to see regular money coming in every month, let's say, as opposed to, so that would be the OPEX model, right? As opposed to maybe a networking vendor, like, well, hey, we sell $2 million to Tim's company every five years. That's less attractive to Wall Street. They want recurrent revenue. They want that money always coming. That's the whole subscription-based model. As a network engineer, I didn't enjoy subscription licensing as an example, right? I don't know.

And that's part of the disconnect for me sometimes. I have an emotional reaction to some of this stuff because of the blood, sweat, and tears I've put into networks. And when you make a network engineer's job harder so that Wall Street can look at your company more favorably, that bothers me. Now, I gotta be careful what I say, and I don't wanna make anybody mad, but as a network engineer, I have a hard time with that, right? Like, well, we're just gonna...

The longer I'm in this space, the longer I keep hearing, nobody wants to think about the network. It's not important. It's just plumbing the applications where it's at, and we're not gonna build anything and we're gonna go to the cloud. And I get it, I understand, but that's not the world I come from. And when I, subscription licensing, right? Isn't this great? Well, it was great for the company running it. But if you're a network engineer managing a global infrastructure with subscription licensing on your networking gear,

I have yet to meet a person that had a good experience with it, that it helped them. They weren't buying it for feature velocity. They weren't buying it for the upgrade. Give me my iron, give me my features, leave me alone till it's end of life. That's what a network person wants. Now what the business wants is different. And not that this is the show we're having, but my emotional response, and then I'll be quiet, is that it seems that network engineer, we really don't care how to make your network better.

you're in the way, the network isn't important, we need you to go away as much as possible. And some of this stuff to me feels that way. Let's make it all go away. We don't need engineers. We're just going to pay this MSP. We're going to pay a subscription. Isn't this great? We don't need these people anymore. This is a network engineering podcast, folks. So I have to say that because I feel that. Well, maybe, right? This isn't the art of application development in the cloud podcast, right? It probably feels different. Yeah. The more we talk about it, it...

And I've read a few articles prior to this, one of them very good by Cloudflare, I'd say, who gives a good example of a use case for a company wanting to migrate to NAS. The more we talk about it though, the more it kind of feels to me like it's a strategy for a certain kind of company to save money, not have network engineers on staff, and...

It might be like weighing of the risk of somebody else being at the mercy of someone else managing your network versus saving the money potentially on like network engineer salary. That's kind of what it seems like to me. Which could make sense for some enterprise places, right? And I think to your point on cost savings, I think it depends on what else you do because I think there is a concept of NAS where you still have a network team.

and that manages that hosted cloud portal. I think there's offerings where you don't have that, and it's outsourced to an MSP. But on that cost conversation, Andy, to answer your other... The other part of that earlier question, more than just saying, I don't know, is I'm almost wondering if similar to how these vendors want that recurring revenue, I could see some customers

not necessarily saving money, but at least knowing how much they have to pay every year rather than having to try to budget long-term for, okay, I know that I have this gear, I've had this gear for three years, so I need to start thinking about a refresh cycle. And then, oh, I had some different gear last year, so now I'm three more years past that for this gear. You don't have to worry about that.

You just have, okay, I know I have this inventory, they're charging me this month, much per month, per year, whatever. And that's just constant OPEX budget that's easy for me to think about. It may not cost less, but it's at least known. Similar to how the vendors, they know how much money they're gonna be making. The customers know better how much they're spending. Maybe. I don't know. Absolutely. So I've written CapExes, right? And I've had to deal with that whole thing. So...

So first, first, I just want to take a moment and for anybody that's listening that doesn't know what a capex is versus an op ex right capex capital expenditure, you're making a very large purchase. It's not a large purchase that you make regularly. Generally when you do a capex, you're buying something that adds value to the business. It probably has some sort of life expectancy. You're probably going to have to pay to maintain it. At some point, you're going to have to take it off your books and dispose of it, which may or may not cost something.

a capex and then there's OPEX. You pay a known cost for your consumption every month. It is what it is. And it's so it's a lot easier to handle, right? It's usually less upfront. It might be more over the long term, but it's not this huge hit to the company's books all at once. When I did capexes, there was a huge justification process to go through, get the quotes to all this, that and the other thing.

It was a huge pain in the butt. So, so to turn something like this into potentially an OpEx, it's interesting. How is it going to work? Right? Is it going to be just like, is it going to be just like cloud where I can swap a credit card and my switches get delivered and I can deploy my network? And then suddenly I have a location that I no longer have a use for. Can I stop paying for that service? Can I box the switches up and send them back? Or do I have to pay for them for a set amount of time before I'm allowed to dispose of them? Right? Like.

If I can spin up and spin down at will like that, that's interesting, right? I don't have to buy a bunch of switches for a location that I don't know how long it's going to be there for. So there are some interesting pieces to it. Yeah, that's a good retort. I was going to say, when would you ever shut your network down, right? Like when would, like you can turn off usage in the cloud. When would you be like, oh, I don't need my network today, but that's actually a good use case. Maybe it's a, could be a temporary location. I mean, there's definitely.

I was talking to Sean earlier today and he, and you've all alluded to it. It really seems to be the consumption model of, you know, if you can, and Tim, you, you touched on this in the cloud episode, but there's like those four things that that body said of like, you know, it has to, you know, scalable, you pay on demand and like, it's, it just seems to follow, which to me is just the cloud parallel of, you know, it's a consumption model, like, you know, you can buy a house or you can rent a house, right? Like you can buy all that network. Like that's the CapEx, you know, CapEx, Opex thing. I.

I was a cable guy. People leased equipment, equipment that was on a network that provided services, phone, TV, internet. And then they paid a subscription every month for the services that came over that network. And I wasn't too upset about that. So I don't know if it gets my feathers up because it's just different than the traditional network model that I've come up in.

I guess I'm just getting crotchety and threatened by new stuff. That we're talking about. We're talking about drawing parallels with network as a service to other cloud service models. So Andy, you actually sent us an article earlier today, which I think maybe Sean had shared with you. And it was a Gartner article from like 2021.

describing what NAS is. And I'll quote some of this. NAS is a delivery model for networking products, offerings, deliver network functionality as a service, which include the following capabilities. Self-service capability, on-demand usage, ability to scale up and down, build on an OPEX model, consumption-based. That's word for word what the cloud pillars are. I mean, that's what it is right there. Right. And cloud is a successful model, right? Like Mr. Bezos is- For sure.

done really well for himself with building. So it's apparently, what I've read a lot recently is that cloud wound up being way more expensive than people thought it would be. So again, just drawing parallels. I don't know if networking as a service would be more expensive over time, the way cloud is. And it depends on what your workloads are and all that stuff I know in cloud. But overall, there's been a lot of press of people going, we went to cloud, we did some math, we realized that...

it's cheaper to build our own data centers. So like you said, it depends. Maybe this is for smaller or medium size retail. Yeah, totally. I think that if you're using the cloud like the right way, right? Like if you're lifting your data center and you're putting it into the cloud, no, you're not going to win. It's not going to be cheaper. But if you need to spin up a few servers to test an application or you're headed into a busy time of year and you need to handle bursting workloads.

That's what the cloud is for. You can lift and shift. You can set up any cloud provider to be your disaster recovery, but it's going to cost you. Is it going to be cheaper than operating your own data center? Probably not. But do you have to worry about managing your own data center? No, you don't. That's the cost benefit there. You pay Amazon or Azure or Google or whoever your cloud provider is to handle all of that for you. And the same applies to networking.

the controllers, your configs, your automation, all of that's going to live in the cloud. It's not services that now you need to stand up, right? Like if you're going to run some sort of 802.1x authentication platform, those are servers that you have to worry about, resources you have to provide, VMs you have to run. You no longer have to worry about that. All that's in the cloud. Your automation platform, again, has some sort of servers and infrastructure to support it. Don't have to worry about that. That's now on the cloud, right? So...

So there's certain pieces to it, the operational pieces, that they're going to be in the cloud, your switches are going to be on premise. It's probably more of like a hybrid network, right? Like hybrid cloud, right? Like you operate it within the cloud, but it lives on your premises. Well, I wonder if there's like different flavors of it too, depending on your network as a service provider, right? So I'm sure like some of them come with, you get the hardware, you have more freedom to like do what you want with it, but you're renting it.

Or you could get like, you know, the extreme end of the spectrum where they deploy it, they do everything, they manage it, all the maintenance is theirs. You know, you don't really, you're a hands off approach. And I can see that working for a lot of places. Oh, for sure. But this, this is increasingly to me sounding like it's just approaching cloud stuff already. Like this is the cloud, it's just cloud for your network. Like I don't, I don't see a whole lot of difference other than like, if we're talking like a company has resources in the cloud they want to access and they're using their own network to access

but now they want to put that network in somebody else's hands. Okay, so we have a third party doing the network, providing the access to the cloud resources, which are also in the hands of a third party. And now I'm freaking myself out talking about this because it's like everybody has everybody else. These third parties own all of your stuff.

But I mean, I guess if that's more cost effective for you as a company, it makes sense. It's just as a network engineer, I already get skewed out thinking about somebody else like touching the hardware. I think that's one of the things is like everything that we're talking about right now is pretty hypothetical still, right? There might be some companies out there that have some formal offering. I have not personally seen that. I searched for one. I could not find one. And Tim and I and others...

heard about this at networking field day and it was being presented as part of some other product announcements and presentations. But again, there was no formalized, this is the product offering, here's the different tiers that you can buy into. I think a lot of that is still in development and to be determined and yet to be seen. So once you start to see more of that stuff, but what is true is that it's coming, it's on the way.

And some of the stuff that's interesting to me now is that with a lot of these controllers or these cloud options will include the streaming telemetry, the monitoring. And what some of the companies are able to do now is because they've consumed so much of this data is that they can look at it and say, oh, based on the data we're seeing, you have a switch that's failing, an interface that's going bad, an SFP that needs to be replaced.

proactively alert you and let you know that this stuff is about to happen. It's not that, oh, your SFP is down or burnt out. You need to replace it. It's no, this is going to happen. Let me proactively ship you a new one and you can address it before it becomes an issue. That's the secret sauce, the proactive. Yeah, that's automation. That's automation. That's what when I worked at a cloud provider, that's what we were working towards.

So AJ, you mentioned that this stuff is coming. Something else from the Skartner article, they mentioned that the prediction is that by the end of 2024, on-premises NAS will be adopted by 15% of all enterprises up from less than 1% in 2021. So does sound like it is somewhat of a thing, just a very small thing, at least as of a year ago.

And we were talking about operations and we kind of touched on the potential of certain things getting outsourced depending on what you bought into as a customer. And I wanted to bring up a counterpoint from Skr's security in the chat saying that I think you still need a networking team on site as you need somebody to understand how the network works, how it flows, that kind of thing. I agree with that 100%.

And I think whether it's the customer that purchases the NAS solution and operates the cloud functionality or the cloud controller themselves, or if that gets outsourced to an MSP, I agree there is still somebody that has knowledge of that network and is able to configure and operate it. I think it's just down to, is it FTEs in the organization and the customer, or is it, um, hosted out with an MSP? Yeah, I agree. I mean,

I think you need to. I hope, but I know that some organizations are going to probably buy into this and get rid of their network engineers and FTEs because they think they don't need them anymore. But you definitely still need those people. Yeah, you definitely need somebody. I feel like this could be something with like a... You mentioned, AJ, you hadn't found any examples of a NAS architecture or a product or something

I'm seeing some stuff from Cloudflare that they're calling a network as a service solution. One of the examples I see is replacing your MPLS paths between branch offices and your data centers with their magic WAN solution. Oh yeah. Yeah. So network as a service from a WAN provider perspective is absolutely a thing. But is this different than what we're...

in the buildings, the switches, the access layer. And that's where NAS gets cloudy, pun intended. I mean, but in all seriousness, to me, it goes back to these, these terms can be nebulous and can mean different things. Because I read the CloudFlare article, Alexi, that you sent, and that was great. And what that one seemed to go after was...

more of the managed transport, managed network in between like an on-prem and a cloud managing those connections. How do you distinguish? That's exactly what you're saying. I don't know. How do you distinguish between... We need a term, right? Because NAS seems to be a large umbrella that overlaps a lot with cloud offerings. Exactly. And is also cloud itself, sort of, right? Like it's... I don't know. Well, just hearing the as, right? Like it doesn't matter what letters to...

on the front, but just hearing the as a service automatically your brain. Yeah. And, and here's, here's the trick with marketing, I guess, right? Like, so how long has MPLS been around? I mean, that's a service that you pay for from a third party. So I think that some of these WAN providers are rebranding what we just know to be WAN connectivity, a circuit as NAS. Like, well, well now MPLS is NAS. Well, is it?

I guess have we been calling MPLS the wrong thing for 20 years or are you just capitalizing on a hot marketing term? Like, hang on, Andy, what is that that Russ White's whole thing, right? Rule 11, you know, everything old is new again. We're just going to rebrand it. And you were just reminding me, Jordan Martin said the same thing at that NFD. Like this tried to make headway 20 years ago or however long it was. He's like, this isn't the first time we've seen it. And I don't know the history. I wasn't in the field then. And I don't know.

You know how it failed then, but you know, maybe the difference now is just, yeah, that the as a service thing it's, it's real. It's here. There's companies pulling down billions in revenue, you know, selling it. Public cloud providers. And as an example, so maybe this is the right time in history, right. And tech too. And yeah, it makes sense. If, if I'm a WAN circuit provider and I can call my circuit NAS, Hey, that let's do that because there's people talking about it. Is it NAS? I don't know. I thought it was MPLS, right. But.

I mean, it's fascinating to see how quickly things are changing in such a short period of time. Like, I've been in networking, what, 11 or 12 years and I mean, again, I'm going to sound like old man Laptev here, but things are just moving faster and faster. Like, well, yeah. Old man Damon. Like now it's circuit smash. Okay. Yeah, like. Yeah, personally, I've seen a lot of comments since I posted that tweet, a lot of comments from...

much more experienced network engineers than me saying like, okay, this has been around forever and we're just like adding an AAS at the end of it. So, you know, like people not impressed and I see that, right? I saw a lot of SD-WAN call outs, right? And I don't know enough about SD-WAN to draw that parallel. But a lot of people seem to be like, well, isn't this SD-WAN? You have an internet circuit and you're consuming services, you know, over that circuit. And I do think there is, in a sense, some weight to that.

because there was even one presenter at networking field day and I know this isn't a sponsored thing, but I believe it was Ariaka, if I'm thinking right, AJ, that they kind of take, and other vendors do this as well, but they kind of take that managed SD-WAN a step further in that not only are we delivering you an SD-WAN service, but we will also, if you pay for this service, we will...

acquire, manage and maintain the provider circuits that you want. So rather than you as a customer going out to the ISPs, going and getting your SD-WAN solution and then also going out and getting the ISP circuits that you want at these different sites, you just go to vendor XYZ and say, I want an SD-WAN solution. You deliver everything to me, including the circuits. Could that be spun as NAS a little bit?

more, it makes a lot more sense than calling it SD-WAN, right? That presentation started off, they said, well, here's our SD-WAN presentation. I'm like, this doesn't sound like SD-WAN. Like SD-WAN was a part of the solution. And I believe somebody else there referred to it as gold-plated MPLS, which, you know, hit the nail on the head. But, you know, as somebody that talks to a bunch of different enterprises, like,

that's a service that people need and want. Like every single network engineer that I talked to that's in charge of managing the WAN circuits, it's a nightmare, right? Like the billing cycles are all different. You have like, depending on the branch site, there's no way you're gonna get it all through the same ISP. So to be able to go to one throat and say, I just need service at this new location that's spinning up, go figure it out, that's worth the wait.

Is this something that like, like when I was working in a knock, right, we'd have a circuit go down and I'd have to actually like call the provider and be like, why is the circuit down and like hunt them down, you know, like call them every hour depending on the severity of the issue, right? And like make sure that that's there. It'd be, but it was like different tons of different circuit providers. So it'd be nice. Just like you said, I guess I'm repeating what you're saying AJ, but like I'm going back to my days in the knock and thinking, you know, it really would be nice to not have to hunt down every phone number of every tiny little like.

provider that, yeah, do business. Yeah. I was just going to bring that up because that's a huge value add to those types of services in that not only do you not have to chase those down, but if those happen, you know, if there's organizations that aren't large enough to have a 24 by 7 knock that if they purchase that solution through a provider, then it's on that provider to track down the ISPs and they're doing all of that automated.

monitoring. I mean, I think that's a pretty big value add. It's also a lot of control that you're handing off, which makes me a little, yeah. And maybe it's just cause I'm used to being responsible for the infrastructure. Right. Well, it goes back to what, what the, it goes back to what the customer wants. If the customer leverages, I keep going back to what Jordan Martin said, if the customer leverages their network as a differentiator, then in as a service offering for networks probably isn't

a good fit. But if it's an organization that's just providing some sort of service or building widgets to get out the door and doesn't really care, they just, they have to have a network, but they don't care what it is outside of that, then this is maybe a fit for them. So then my next question would be, is there a security solution baked into NAS like this? There's always security.

Right. I mean, of course there's some security, right? But like, I'm sure they're selling security. Okay. Just curious what like, I guess we don't really have as far as like corporate networks. Like you could run firewalls on-prem or you can rent them from the cloud. Like, is that security? Is that not security? That's true. I mean, a firewall, obviously. Yeah. Well, I don't know if that's where you're going, Alex. I'm not sure. You bring up a really interesting point because you have security and I think another...

big piece of this, if you are a customer that's looking for a solution like this, is to add on to security compliance. I think you really need to understand what it is you're purchasing and especially if you're not the one managing it, if it's being managed somewhere else in the cloud controller component, what kind of data is there? I mean, there's a lot of stuff that you would have to investigate as an organization from a compliance standpoint, I would think.

Yeah, I feel like there's a lot of administrative stuff that goes along with the security component that I'm, you know, I'm not an InfoSec person, but like I would imagine just identity management and stuff. Like how much of that goes into, let's say a company, an enterprise takes on a NAS service.

Do they have security people as well, or is that baked into their solution? Because who's allowed to access your corporate resources, for example, is that part of the NAS solution? Is that included?

Did y'all hear anything about that at NFD? I think you just invented another episode, Lexi. Good work. Yay. Or a new service that we could sell as NAS and make a million dollars. We already have SAS, so it'd have to be like sick ass or something. Sick ass. Do you just say suck ass?

Yeah. There we go. Buy some suck ass shit birds. Yeah, I can see this being an issue. You want to make sure. Oh, I got Tim. It's been a while. Tim fell over. Andy, I think at this point you said shitbirds more often than I. Big fan likes big fan. Yeah, but I can see I can see this being an issue, right? Because like you, Andy, you're talking about like wanting to have management over it and like like giving all of that.

Or control was the word to use. Giving over your control to a third party can obviously be convenient, but then you want to make sure that they're doing the right things to secure your network. And I'm personally thinking of it from the perspective I'm at right now, which is like a corporate network that you have ITAR stuff going on. You really don't want internal resources leaving the company.

How would that be handled? There's a lot of trust involved with all this. And again, this is like the Jordan Martin show, but I remember he said on that NFD that you're paying a third party to do all this, to manage your network and security and all that stuff. But at the end of the day, you, the customer, are ultimately responsible. If there's a HIPAA violation, if PCI, payment card information, you're on the hook. So it's a lot of trust to put.

in this other place. And that's what I mean by control. Like, okay, you know, this is all my fault if you screw it up. So don't destroy me. Now, you know, there's there's evolution of trust over time and tech. I mean, MPLS always comes to mind when I think of like trust in the beginning, it's like, well, what do you mean there? The ISP is going to be able to see all my traffic. Oh, my stuff's so important, right. But over time, that trust was built. And then everybody wound up using MPLS. Yeah, they can see it, but it's first off, and they don't care. And they, they, they, so, you know,

I don't know if, and then with cloud, right? Oh, they're going to see all my stuff. What am I going to do? Right. And now hospital systems and Gerard was talking about how even HIPAA compliance stuffs in the cloud. So it's probably an evolution of trust to our point Lex, like that's, that's a lot of trust to give a virtual stranger and you hope that they don't destroy your career in the process, but over time, maybe that trust will grow. Like it has another, you know, areas like MPLS and cloud and maybe network as a service would just be like, oh yeah, of course they're fine. That, you know.

They've never destroyed anybody. Yeah. It's a good point about HIPAA stuff being in the cloud. Like I hadn't thought about that, but of course it is. Right. So obviously there's something going on there. We have legislation or there's some kind of compliance happening. Right. So yeah. Okay. So to Tim's point, I would imagine compliance would have to be part of this. You got to think, you got to think of it all, you know, just cause you're handing over the keys of the kingdom to a third party, there's, there's a lot. It's all going to follow you. You're.

Andy, you're a hundred percent correct. You as the customer are still, or the consumer, I should say, are still ultimately responsible to your customers. It's not a good luck on LinkedIn when you're like, yeah, I destroyed this company because I trusted somebody I shouldn't have. So. Well, if you're posting that on LinkedIn, that might be on you. Okay. SKRZ Security just gave us a good link, it looks like, to the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Visa, there we go. Talking about trusted internet connections, TICs, I guess. Consolidating network connections, enhancing visibility and security measures, blah, blah, blah. So it sounds like we have guidance documents, basically. At least in the US on.

connect to actually, I'm not going to try and talk out my ass. I have not read this yet because I'm just now looking at it. But basically it looks like we have guidelines on things like this, right? The consumption model makes sense to me. Like I lease my car and I'm glad I'm not going to own it at the end because I've owned cars before and they get more and more expensive over the years in maintenance, right? Like I'm fine leasing my internet service. I'm fine paying all my streaming services to lease, you know, what they're giving me. Again, it just feels weird as a career network person to think of it.

think of the network as a service. I had a hard enough time swallowing cloud, you know? But if I had to, I can go work for cloud, right? I get all clouded up and I could go do networking there, but this just feels different. Once you abstract the network away completely as a service, it's like, whoa, wait a minute. Andy's just like cloud, just go work at a network as a service place. Boom, you're done. Exactly, right. Yeah, that's. You're always gonna have to have the network, despite what some people wanna think. Right.

You know, Lexi, you were talking about when circuits go down, and it gave me this flashback to the numerous times where I've had calls to the help desk, like, oh, the internet's down. We can't get to the internet. And we go check the internet. We're troubleshooting all the network here. Wait a minute, we'll call the ISP. Why is our circuit down? You didn't pay the bill. So now what's gonna happen when network has a service? Is my land going to go down because I don't pay the bill? The whole thing, right? That's something David Penapoloza.

brought up was like, you know, you got to make sure like, are they just going to take away the controller so you can't make changes, but they still keep you running or are they just going to take you hard down? Right. It's you'd have to somebody actually walks into the building and starts unplugging power supplies. You know, I was reading, I was reading a thread on Reddit today in the, it was like home networking or something and they're, they were talking about like some, some like unmanaged switches and some managed old

Cisco switches apparently, if you reset the router, I forget exactly what you do, but you connect two specific ports to each other on that switch and then you reset the router of the switch and it'll get reset back to factory defaults or something. I can just imagine someone going back into the company and just plugging every port into .. I don't know if it's the same thing, but I do remember there being a design of a certain switch that had a mode button.

that was right above like port one. And if you plugged in with a certain cable, the little boot would push on the cable, would push into that and factory reset the switch. That's helpful. I remember which vendor that is, but I won't say. Don't use port one. Yeah. Well, this has been a very fun conversation.

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2.9 on Spotify. Thank you very much for that. Mmm. Yeah, we rate higher on Spotify than certain other network podcasts that I've actually searched. Shots fired. So I thought that was interesting. Here we go. We just lost all our friends. AJ's over here flexing as a service. Blas. I do that for free. You don't have to set the price up for that.

And I do it when I demand, not when you demand. So anyway, this has been a lot of fun. Any last thoughts on network as a service guys? I mean, it's just going to be really interesting to see what actually plays out, right? Like this has been a lot of great hypothetical discussion about the different ways this could go, but it'll be interesting to see when we start seeing like actual offerings come forward. Tweet at us about if you're a network engineer who works for a company that's taken on maybe a NAS.

offering, like what's your experience like, or if you work for a company that offers these kinds of solutions, also curious about your experience there. We just want to know more. I want to thank Tim for the topic. It was brought up the other day and I've spent 48 hours frantically trying to figure this thing out, right? And I've really learned a lot. And special shout out to Tom Hollinsworth and the NFD folks because they had like a 35 minute network as a service roundtable that Tim and I have.

AJ were at and I just, I just found it. I watched it twice. I found it immensely helpful, very insightful. And, um, yeah, it was a good topic when I first heard it. I'm like, what is this? You know, like what? Stop it, Tim. What did you hear at NFD and why do we have to talk about it? But it, I went down the rabbit hole and I'm really glad, you know, I've learned a lot, it's made me rethink some things, which I think is a good thing. So yeah, good topic, Tim. Thanks. Yeah. I don't know, AJ. It's just more acronyms. Nobody knows what they mean.

Alphabet 2. We're here to try to define them. I think we succeeded, I hope. I think so too. Excellent. All right. Thanks for joining us today and we'll see you next time on another episode of the Art of Network Engineering.

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