What is Intent-Based Networking (IBN)

By | December 22, 2019
IBN

Intent-Based Networking or Intent-Driven Networking has recently become a very hot topic among tech professionals. Especially in those, who specialize in networking. It has been labeled as the next big thing and I know the term sounds pretty cool but what really is Intent-Based Networking. 

What is an Intent-Based Network?

If you want to have an idea about what Intent-based networking is, think of it as a self-driving car, in which your destination or intent is the destination. In an intent-based network, you declare what you want in the network like some change or to update something, just tell your IBN what you need with commands like-

  • I want to replace a switch
  • I want to add a virtual network
  • I need to connect 1000 virtual machines in the most effective way

And your IBN automatically renders a blueprint having the changes you want in your network according to your networking devices and after that, it’ll make the change and ensures the change is made in a closed-loop. It means that your intent-based network stores your intent and changes it and the changes are tightly coupled to provide insights and analytics based on the behavior of your complete system. Not like a traditional network with only a single data point.

IBN continuously monitors and maintains the network to make sure that your network is working like. Like a self-driving car, that checks its environment many times and reroutes to make sure that you are on the safe and the right path, IBS does the same for you.

So you can say that –

IBN is a networking model used to plan, design, implement, and operate a network or in easy words, you can say that an intent-based network tells the network what service you wanna run and the network configures itself.

Working of an Intent-Based Network

What is IBN

The Intent-Based Network has been emerging in the world market for around 2 years and its development is correlated to the development of Machine Learning. Before the intent-based systems can work, they must be connected with the indicators that will inform the software of what you want it to do.

  1. The first step is to input a request into the IBN system. The request could be any command line, a network service configuration or anything based on the network. Once the system will receive the request, it starts to verify that the request is actually possible or not.
  2. To check this, the system uses a working model that is aware of what is happening in the network. The system tests the commands that you’ve provided to see how your changes will affect the network.
  3. This is where it gets interesting. In the past, if network owners want to confirm some configurations for a network, they would have to do this manually. But with the intent-based networking model, an endless cycle of verification checks that the changes that you are recommending in the system meet your needs or not. And if not, it recommends changes immediately.
  4. This automated process eliminates the need for manually checking which is time-consuming and costly.

4 Pillars of Intent-Based Networking

Intent-Based Networking is based on these four characteristics-

Translation and Validation- The ability to translate given commands into actions that a system can perform. It also verifies that the policy (intent) can be executed in the first place.

Automation Implementation- Once the intent is defined, the IBMS automatically implements the policies that the network manager has defined.

Awareness of State- Another important characteristic of the Intent-Based Network is that it continuously gathers the data from a network to monitor the state of the network. 

Assurance and Dynamic- The network continuously that the intent of the network is maintained. So for this, the network uses Machine Learning due to which, the network chooses the best way to implement the desired intent and also correct an action (if necessary).

Key Principles of IBN

Intent-Based Network works on the following principles-

Business Intent- IBN always keeps the goals of a business as a priority. IBN ensure that the network satisfies all need of a business owner or an employee from a network in terms of network design, deployment, and operations.

Network as a System- The intent-based network requires the network to be designed and operated as an end-to-end system.

Continuous Regularity of Intent- Verification is an important element of IBN. The network continuously checks that the intent of the business owner is served or not in each and every term.

Advantages of IBN

Here are the top reasons why you should consider Intent-Based Networking over a normal networking model.

Automated Implementation-

In a manual network model, if you want to implement a change in a network, you need to manually implement the change on one node and then another (until the change is implemented in the whole network). But in IBN, all you need to do is to tell your system what change you need with a command and then, the change will be implemented to the whole system or where it’s necessary.

Less Repetition or Error of code-

As we know that the code is automatically implemented in the IBN, so there are fewer chances of code repetition or error of code as compared with manual inputs

Speed-

Without any doubt, this is one of the advantages associated with IBN. It allows the network to update and fix issues in a network in far less time, even without the need for human involvement.

More Secure-

Intent-based networks are more secure because they continuously scan for threats and issue them faster on their own.

Scalability- 

The intent-based network can take care of your entire network, no matter how big it is or how big it becomes. But in the manual networking models, an increase in the size of the network is the responsibility of the staff because they have to validate every task manually in the network.

So these are the few reasons why Intent-Based Networking far exceeds the manual approach.

Watch What is Intent-Based Networking?

Video by Phil Gervasi

Companies that have opted Intent-Based network

Since the announcement of the Intent-based networking model in the market, many big names in the technology industry have started to opt for this new way of networking technology. They want to be efficient and secure. So here are the few companies that have opted the IBN technology model-

  1. Cisco Systems Inc.
  2. Juniper Networks Inc.
  3. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
  4. Pluribus Networks
  5. A10 Networks
  6. FireMon LLC
  7. Cerium Networks
  8. Veriflow Systems
  9. Fortinet Inc.
  10. Indeni Ltd.
  11. Forward Networks Inc.
  12. Anuta Networks
  13. Apstra Inc.
  14. Intentionet
  15. Avi Networks
  16. Google
  17. Amazon Web Services
  18. Amazon Azure
  19. Masergy
  20. 128 Technology
  21. Aviatrix Systems
  22. Barefoot Networks
  23. CloudGenix
  24. Gemini Data
  25. Nyansa
  26. Versa Networks
  27. Noction

Why IBN is the Future in networking technologies.

intent Based Networking is the biggest evolutionary step in the field of networking ever because it will make the network highly secure and dynamic. Well, during the next several years, the industry will see a rise in the field of IBN. Both vendors and users of IBN will increase because right now, many companies are paying for the networking services that you are not getting properly or fast enough.

The problem is you are still stuck in the cycle of the manually operated network and implementing your new architecture line by line. If you want to keep up today’s business demands, then you need to replace all that manual networking system with a fully automated system.

The other reason that managing networks have always been a complex process. But the IBN is giving network administrators the ability to define what they want the network to do and with a fully automated network, they can create the desired state in a network. So that’s why there will be a boom in the field of IBN.

Gartner believes that-

A full Intent-Based Networking system could 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%.

 Will IBN eliminate jobs?

Well, it is not necessary that IBN will eliminate jobs. But there is a key point to understand that IBN will make the whole network automated. So there are chances that jobs associated with annual tasking in a network will be eliminated in the coming years. But one good thing in all of this is that professionals will have more time to work on strategic initiatives.

For example- if tasks like creating VLANs, updating the network, checking logs will be automated, then engineers will be more productive. They will have more time to work on strategic things in a network.

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