Not only does NaaS support scalability and flexibility for businesses prone to seasonal fluctuations, but it also provides a platform to capture customer insights that drive revenue growth.
Just as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has made inroads into retail as a means of shifting IT responsibilities for applications to a third party, a similar model for networking is gaining popularity. The Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) paradigm reflects the reality that deploying a network in a store, regardless of size, adds complexity to IT — both in terms of installation and ongoing management.
Having internet connectivity and a wireless local area network (WLAN) at any location means a retailer must be responsible for security, administration, updates, modifications, scalability and troubleshooting. Factor in the various endpoints that require connectivity — including increasingly wireless point of sale (PoS) devices and kiosks, along with identity management — and running a network becomes a complicated proposition. NaaS transfers many of these responsibilities, including security monitoring, to a third-party provider that offers a centralized network (as opposed to a WLAN) while delivering improved access to cloud-based management services and mobile enterprise solutions like apps. That’s all in addition to the following benefits.
Control Over Allocation and Bandwidth of the Network
NaaS enables retailers to cost-effectively shift network responsibilities to their NaaS service provider in alignment with this cloud-service approach to applications. This also increases the flexibility to support fluctuating numbers of users, mobile devices and endpoints.
Improved security is another major benefit of moving to a NaaS model. Recently, high-profile retailers such as Home Depot, Neiman Marcus and Target have been hacked and had customer data exposed. Cyberthreats such as malware, botnets and ransomware are increasing in frequency and ferocity, and NaaS places cybersecurity tasks in the provider’s hands instead of the retailer’s.
Less Time Managing the Network
Despite shifting responsibilities to a service provider, NaaS provides retailers with greater central control and visibility. This control means a retailer can have visibility across all networks from "a single pane of glass." The ability to see every location in one dashboard enables IT staff to make better-informed decisions about allocating network resources and bandwidth. They spend less time managing the network and focus on more strategic IT initiatives that support the customer experience and business growth.
Endless Scalability Options
Scalability is critical, and NaaS can provide the agility to scale up or down in a business environment prone to seasonal fluctuations. Not only is it simple to add or remove users from the network, but with the advent of the pop-up store, entire locations can easily be provisioned or decommissioned centrally in a replicable "cookie cutter" model.
Connecting Multiple Retail Locations
Connecting multiple locations provides a retailer with a bigger picture not just in terms of network traffic and bandwidth usage, but also in consumer behavior and customer feedback. NaaS provides a platform for capturing Big Data from various endpoints, including emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications, making it easier to intelligently invest in retail strategies that drive revenue growth.
About the Author
Gary Hilson is an expert tech journalist with over 20 years experience contributing to North American technology publications.
His specialties include memory and data storage technology, enterprise software, networking hardware, sustainable vehicles, green technology, technology standards, Internet of Things, B2B content, education and research. His work has appeared in many leading technology publications including EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Network Computing and InformationWeek, as well as, Toronto Business Times, and Strategy Magazine.