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What does 'network on demand' mean for enterprises?

Following the on-demand trend, network on-demand options provide enterprises with more flexible consumption models, such as managed network services and cloud-based networking.

Businesses are moving toward IT as a service or on demand largely because of managed services and cloud-based computing. On-demand options change consumption from a capital model to an expense model, making IT costs more stable and predictable.

Servers and storage endpoints have been virtualized for years, making them easy to consume in on-demand models. Networking lagged, however, because it was a mesh between these endpoints. Now, networking is becoming virtualized, with software-defined networking, WAN, perimeter, security and more -- all of which make networking easier to consume in on-demand models.

Network on-demand models

Network on demand -- or on-demand networking -- can be delivered as either a managed network service or as cloud-based networking. In a managed network service model, a third party manages, meters and bills the infrastructure. In a cloud-based networking model, a business contracts directly with the cloud provider and makes all the decisions about its network.

In either model, on-demand networking changes the dynamics from a Capex model in which customers pay upfront and amortize to a consumption-based model where users pay monthly for what they consume. Network on-demand options can be more flexible, enabling businesses to scale their network bandwidth and provision up and down to match business needs. In the on-demand world, burdens shift toward more planning and monitoring of service-level agreements and consumption versus hardware and traffic.

Network on demand
Enterprises have two main choices when it comes to network on-demand models.

Target customers for network on demand

Network on demand can be delivered as either a managed network service or as cloud-based networking.

The most logical customers for on-demand managed networking services are smaller businesses that don't have the internal resources to adequately handle networking. The most logical customers for on-demand cloud-based networking are larger businesses that have moved much of their infrastructure to cloud-based services models.

For businesses in the middle that haven't made the leap to cloud and are still deploying on-premises or virtual servers and storage, the best option for now is to keep the network on-site and manage it in line with other IT components.

This was last published in March 2020

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