Intent-based networking is a relatively new term in the information technology space. Gartner first coined the term in 2017 and called it the “next big thing” in a blog post. However, components to intent-based networking began before 2017. In fact, as John Strassner, CTO of Futurwei, informed us, “intent been around for a long time. There were goal-based policies in the late 1990s.” But what exactly is intent-based networking and what are the characteristics?
Intent-Based Networking Explained
The keyword in intent-based networking is the intent, which describes a network’s business objective. IT professionals establish policies that specify the network’s business intent, auto-prescribe how to satisfy that goal, and automate at scale.
Traditional networking relied on command line interface (CLI) to manually set up policies for all vendors’ networking devices individually. The vendors have the unique interface and syntax for their products, resulting in IT professionals learning the CLI syntax for each vendor’s device to achieve the network’s business objective. The intent-based networking approach is vastly different than CLI. Instead, intent-based networking operates as a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), meaning it is end-to-end networking that seamlessly manages all devices on one interface
While Intent-based networking is compared with software-defined networking (SDN), it also contrasts as well in a few distinctive ways. Mainly, intent-based networking adds DevOps, and it allows network operators more control over running the network.
A more concise way to view intent-based networking is as a lifecycle management software that “bridges the gap between business and IT.,” according to Cisco.
What is Intent-Based Networking? The Characteristics
- Its priority is always to deliver the business goal (the intent).
- It operates as a Naas.
- It routinely and frequently verifies the fulfillment of the network’s purpose via network verification. Intent-based networking conducts automated checks on the network to ensure that it’s performing as intended, and it determines business goals without user input.
- Works with all technologies and vendor products.