One of the most attractive benefits to intent-based networking (IBN) is its ability to relieve the IT department of updating all networking devices to complete an over-arching business objective. IBN is defined as a self-driving network that automatically applies business intent to various network devices across a network without having to rely on command-line interface (CLI). Instead, the network administrator writes intent in plain language or via a graphical interface. In simple terms, IBN is about telling the software what the business intent is with the software automatically applying the intent across the network.
IBN is achievable through orchestration and machine learning (ML). Together, the two technologies create a closed cycle that constantly refreshes and applies the intent. ML in IBN is used to “analyze data, extract information from data and learn from it automatically, without being explicitly programmed.
The first step in the never-ending cycle of IBN is defining the business intent and translating that intent into policies. The policies are then orchestrated and configured for both physical and virtual devices across the network in the second step. The next step in the cycle is monitoring and checking that the policy and orchestration perform as intended per the defined business intent. The system then auto-corrects any issues that prevent the business intent from being achieved across the network. It then loops back around to the first step – translating the business intent. This ensures that a constant review, application, and troubleshooting of the business intent is ongoing and is updating across all systems within a network.
Gartner predicts that IBN “will not be mainstream prior to 2020, but solutions are emerging that can provide value in the enterprise today.” Outside of automating tasks that previously consumed IT departments time and resources, IBN delivers other benefits to networking. Review the additional intent-based networking benefits below.
The Benefits of Intent-Based Networking
- Increased agility and availability. Gartner emphasizes this benefit and believes that IBN “can reduce network infrastructure delivery times to the business leaders by 50% to 90%, while simultaneously reducing the number and duration of outages by at least 50%.”
- Vendor-neutral — IBN will work across all devices from different providers
- Improved control and performance. As administrators input the defined intent, the software decides the best way to implement that intent across the network.
- Self-Service. This allows for real-time updates and monitoring.
- Security detection. Detects security issues in real-time.