Intent-Based Networking: Automating Network Operations

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In an increasingly interconnected online world, the task of managing network infrastructure has become more demanding than ever. To respond to this challenge, the concept of Intent-Based Networking has been adopted by major companies such as Cisco. Through intent-based networking, sophisticated algorithms automate the monitoring and management of network resources. In this article, we will explore the concept of intent-based networking and discuss the broader implications of the technology.

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What is Intent-Based Networking?

As mentioned previously, intent-based networking (IBN) makes use of sophisticated machine learning algorithms to automate network operations and management according to a desired business objective or key performance metrics. Put simply, an intent-based network uses software to manage network resources in a way that aligns with the intent of a given enterprise. This allows for the consistent application and management of network policies without the need for human intervention. To do this, intent-based networks monitor and modify network resources on a regular basis to ensure that business operations are never impacted by network failures. 

Software-Defined Networking and Network Abstraction

Intent-based networking is based on the concept of software-defined networking (SDN), a type of network infrastructure that uses a central controller to manage the activity of a given network.  This type of infrastructure allows engineers to treat the network as an integrated unit rather than a collection of separate units networked together, which assists in network abstraction. 

Network abstraction is the process of creating virtual networks rather than physical networks. A common example of a virtual network is a Virtual Private Network or VPN. These networks exist purely as abstract virtual constructs, which allows them to be vastly more complex than physical networks that use physical cables or wireless signals to connect. 

The complexity of virtualized network infrastructure benefits from SDN technology as it allows a centralized controller to manage both physical and virtual network connections. Without SDN technology, the management of data centers or other complex networks would require a much greater degree of human intervention and oversight. Intent-based networking expands on this principle and allows for the input of business intent and performance objectives that modify how the automated network controller operates. 

Intent-Based Networking and What it Means for You

One of the main implications of intent-based networking is the potential for reduction of personnel required for the management of network operations. Since the monitoring and modification of network resources is managed by an automated software program, human operators are largely unnecessary. This allows organizations to reduce the operating cost of network infrastructure without compromising on network performance or losing sight of business objectives.

Since intent-based networks integrate business objectives into the software controllers, they function as intelligent operators in much the same way human personnel would, capable of making decisions based on business requirements and key performance metrics. The combination of continuous monitoring and adjustment with business-oriented machine learning algorithms makes IBN technology a perfect fit for a variety of network operations.

Key Implications of Intent-Based Networking

To summarize, here are the ways that IBN technology can impact your online enterprise:

  • Consistently apply network policies and standards.
  • Automate the monitoring and adjustment of network resources.
  • Integrate business intent to ensure continuous operation of your online enterprise.

Now that you have a better understanding of intent-based networking you can better plan your own network infrastructure and meet the demands of your enterprise.

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