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Intent-Based Networking: How Close Are We (and Should You Prepare)? | @CloudExpo #ML #SDN #Cloud
Intent-based networking will be the technology that allows network administrators to take advantage of SDN across delivery chain
By: Patrick Hubbard
Sep. 21, 2017 04:00 PM
Intent-Based Networking: How Close Are We (and Should You Prepare)?
Over the last several months, intent-based networking (IBNS) has gained momentum as a newly viable technology that aims to further automate traditional network management. Although IBNS has existed for a few years now as a general concept, it was more buzz than reality until Cisco® launched its first IBNS software package earlier this year.
What is intent-based networking?
Enter intent-based networking, which has the potential to significantly transform how we think about enterprise network management. Fundamentally, intent-based networking allows network administrators to define a desired state of the network - what they want it to do - and have that network dynamically monitor for and respond to changing network conditions with automated network orchestration.
IBNS includes all the key tenets of software-defined networking with the addition of observability, autonomous execution access, control policy, and a critical layer of machine-learning capabilities that allow automatic decision-making based on the analysis of observed network behavior. This helps to ensure the security and performance of services along those network paths, and helps bring SDN to the enterprise level.
For example, if a portion of an organization's network is down, an intent-based network could process the change and re-route network traffic accordingly. Alternatively, IBNS platforms can help evaluate the safety of connected devices, whether IoT or BYOD-driven, by monitoring their behavior over time to ultimately decide whether it should be allowed to remain on the network.
This type of dynamic, automated response reduces human involvement, streamlines overall network management, and removes the daily drudgery of routine network changes. It's especially useful for helping to ensure optimal performance for services that compete for resources. Network administrators can think critically about which services should be prioritized and program IBNS platforms to optimize service delivery based on the best benefit for the business.
Where are we now, and should you prepare?
Ultimately, IBNS builds upon the foundation of software-defined networking, robust automation, and orchestration policies, so you can consider these elements your gateway to IBNS (which likely won't be considered mainstream for several years). If you're already looking for SDN solutions, you're probably also already part of a progressive, dev-focused organization with resources dedicated to experimenting with new technology. This organization may even want to test IBNS sooner rather than later. That said, if a company cannot dedicate teams to focus on learning and understanding its intricacies and how to make it work reliably, SDN will not be a good fit. Implementing IBNS will add another layer of complexity that shouldn't be overlooked.
In the meantime, as with any new technology, intent-based networking will require a commitment to re-education and certification. Cisco Live! offers plenty of opportunities to familiarize yourself not only with the technology, but also gives you the opportunity to hear attendees' expert opinions on the future of its adoption and implementation. All of this can help you better prepare for the fundamental shift in network management that IBNS promises to deliver.
Working with IBNS: Best Practices
In terms of data collection and observability, machine learning is only as effective as the breadth of its observability of the network. Often, security-related activities are happening beyond the network's edge that should ideally be driving significant actions on the data center side. Imagine a potential hacker probing the very edge of your organization's security strategy. Those breach attempts indicate how the threat will move horizontally within the firewall, but if the service delivery chain is interrupted, these actions can be overlooked. The new VMware® AppDefense is an example of a tailored version of intent-based technology that can address these concerns.
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