Network, PoP and Infrastructure as a Service

How network service providers are providing more than just traditional network services

Jim Poole
Jim Farmer
Network, PoP and Infrastructure as a Service

Network service providers (NSPs), which include telecommunications/mobile operators, are going through a renaissance as the acceptance of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructures have finally come into their own. Pretty much all of the major global NSPs and telecom operators, such as AT&T, British Telecom, Cisco, Nokia, and Verizon have SDN and/or NFV offerings. This opens the way for modern network-as-a-service (NaaS) solutions that are required for today’s business and personal users, where a more agile and cost-effective access and consumption model is needed.

NaaS is based on an on-demand software licensing and delivery model rather than a technology. It also provides SDN and NFV offerings that open up new markets for NSPs, where they can deliver a “mix and match” set of services, such as programmable access to 5G networks, SD-WANs and virtual private networks (VPNs) when connecting to users and cloud service providers (CSPs) at the edge. With so many networking and telecommunications solutions available on demand, NSPs require a trusted, global digital infrastructure platform partner that will help them to efficiently and cost-effectively deliver these services with software speed and scalability wherever their customers are.

Accelerating NaaS, PoP and infrastructure services via a software-defined interconnection fabric

Equinix provides the global, vendor-neutral platform for NSPs to deliver NaaS solutions to their enterprise customers at various points of presence (PoP), including providing foundational infrastructure as an essential part of their service offerings. Equinix Fabric™ delivers software-defined interconnection for NaaS, PoP and infrastructure on-demand. Today, more than 10,000 businesses are on vendor-neutral Platform Equinix® worldwide, where they can access Equinix Fabric to directly and securely interconnect with network, cloud and SaaS providers, business ecosystems, customers and foundational infrastructure services, such as Network Edge and Equinix Metal™. Here is how NSPs can leverage Equinix’s globally interconnected platform deliver their solutions and services to their customers:

Network-as-a Service

Services that are commonly offered in a NaaS model include SD-WAN, virtual private networks (VPNs), cloud routing, security (firewalls, DDoS mitigation), bandwidth on demand and network management. Benefits include significant usage-based cost savings, on-demand provisioning in minutes, dynamic bandwidth allocation and the ability to quickly traverse from one NSP to another.

NSPs can offer NaaS solutions and manage them consistently using Equinix Fabric for public and private sector customers across its globally interconnected platform. This enables a quick time to market, fast consumption and monetization of NSPs services. For example, during the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, businesses spun up additional VPN services to help support a growing remote workforce overnight. Verizon alone saw a 49% increase in VPN usage starting in March 2020.[i] Currently, a number of NSPs offer NaaS services on Equinix Fabric such as AT&T, Cisco, Colt, Unitas Global and Verizon.


NSPs require regional, national and global PoPs to provide maximum coverage for their customers, particularly at the edge, where the majority of places, partners and possibilities critical to their business reside. On Equinix’s global platform, with its more than 220 Equinix International Business™ (IBX®) data centers in 63 metros around the world, NSPs can leverage “PoP-as-a-service” to deploy network access to various models of edge computing, such as cloud, micro data center (MDC), and multi-access or mobile edge computing (MEC).

Leveraging Equinix Fabric’s one-to-many virtual connections through a portal or APIs, NSPs can provide their customers direct and secure access to their services in different metros in just hours versus weeks. They can also provide customers in small Tier 2 markets connectivity to larger Tier 1 market services with private on-ramps to leading public cloud providers. This enables NSPs to deliver “access to anything” to a greater number of enterprise customers with the lowest latency possible ꟷ typically less than 10 milliseconds (ms). For example, leveraging PoP-as-a-service on Platform Equinix accelerates Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G network access, such as with AT&T 5G-enabled sporting venues, without having to backhaul user traffic across multiple metros or regions to consume these services. Equinix’s global footprint puts NSPs very close to growing numbers of distributed users so they can quickly monetize their NaaS and other network assets.

Connecting enterprise customers to CSPs is probably the greatest use case for NSPs on Platform Equinix, with 2,900+ cloud and IT services providers. Leveraging Equinix Fabric in over 45 metro markets, NSPs can:

  • Expand service reach, providing customers on-demand access to network services and manage their Layer 2/3 connections across multiple regions
  • Automate access to multiple cloud services across distributed metros for business continuity and/or disaster recovery
  • Aggregate SD-WAN and other network services via Network Edge at the cloud edge, enabling a greater number of customers to consume cloud services with no additional CAPEX

Aggregating SD-WAN and Other Network Services at the Cloud Edge


NSPs also require foundational compute building blocks to activate infrastructure on demand to deliver their networking services to customers. In these scenarios, an NSP can leverage Equinix Metal to deploy physical infrastructure-as-a-service for its own network platform or on behalf of an enterprise customer.

Equinix Metal enables businesses to deploy automated, interconnected bare metal infrastructure on-demand on Platform Equinix. NSPs can leverage their application and software management stacks on top of Equinix Metal, including open source container tools such as Kubernetes. Seamlessly integrated with Equinix Fabric, Equinix Metal helps enterprises easily implement hybrid multicloud architectures on dedicated bare metal infrastructure, instantly and securely connecting to enterprises and all major cloud and SaaS platforms via low latency, private software-defined interconnection.

NSPs can deploy Equinix Metal as “white box infrastructure” with no CAPEX investment, removing a costly barrier to entering new markets. Deploying Equinix Metal at the edge on demand removes the need of NSPs and their customers to backhaul traffic from one metro market where they have no hardware presence to one where they are leveraging Equinix Metal. They can just deploy the infrastructure on demand wherever they need it in minutes.

Seamless network integration

Via Equinix Fabric, NSPs can seamlessly create private, secure and low-latency connections to thousands of customers and cloud and other service provider partners. Complementary to NSPs and their partners, Equinix enables as a service technology that augments current NSP services and gives them greater access to a larger number of customers worldwide on Platform Equinix.

In addition, NSPs can test new markets without a large CAPEX investment or risk and launch network, PoP and infrastructure services instantly.  Learn more by reading the Equinix Fabric data sheet for service providers.

You may also want to read:

SDN-Enables Network as a Service for Government Agencies


[i] TheNewStack, “The Network Impact of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic,” 14 Apr 2020 by Mary Branscombe.”

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Jim Poole Former Vice President, Business Development
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Jim Farmer Director - Federal Marketing
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