Intent-Based Networking and Why You Should Care

There’s always a “next big thing” in networking… Five years ago, it was Ethernet Fabrics in the data center, then came SDN, and currently it is SD-WAN. As SD-WAN adoption grows and shifts from bleeding to leading edge, the next big thing on the networking horizon promises to be Intent-based Networking. Whether you’ve heard about the concept of “intent-based networking” or not, the approach is one we will undoubtedly be hearing a lot more about in the coming months and years. More than just a specific technology it’s the holy grail of networking. A drastically new approach that enables the network to continuously align itself to the disparate demands of the organization. It brings together all the latest networking innovations including SDN, virtualization, machine learning, model-based APIs, and many securities related innovations into a closed loop system capable of identifying, predicting, and responding to business needs. Intent-based networking system incorporates these four key things:

Translation and Validation – The system takes a higher-level business policy (what) as input from end users and converts it to the necessary network configuration (how). The system then generates and validates the resulting design and configuration for correctness.

Automated Implementation – The system can configure the appropriate network changes (how) across existing network infrastructure. This is typically done via network automation and/or network orchestration.

Awareness of Network State – The system ingests real-time network status for systems under its administrative control, and is protocol- and transport-agnostic.

Assurance and Dynamic Optimization/Remediation- The system continuously validates (in real time) that the original business intent of the system is being met, and can take corrective actions (such as blocking traffic, modifying network capacity or notifying) when desired intent is not met.

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