Intent-Based Networking: 7 Things to Know

The hot trend aims to revolutionize networking. Here's a look at basic IBN concepts and how the technology promises to help your business.

With intent-based networking (IBN), administrators can pre-program IBN-capable networks with policies for data flows. IBN systems then use artificial intelligence (AI)  to learn about the network and implement the policies on those flows. When the system detects that data flows have veered outside of policy, automation kicks in to steer the flow back into compliance.

These capabilities make intent-based networking a drastic departure from how networks operate today. Legacy networking gets deep into the weeds of routing protocols, spanning-tree topologies and various software and hardware-based mechanisms in order to provide low-latency connectivity and quality of service (QoS). With intent-based networking, administrators are largely shielded from the "how"  data gets from point A to point B quickly, securely, and reliably. Instead, it focuses on the "what" and the "why."

Ultimately, this means that network engineers will have to dig much deeper to understand applications and data and their importance to business goals. They will need to create policies for critical applications that put controls on data transport. The policies will identify these critical data flows and tell the AI portion of IBN how to keep certain data flows moving at the expense of others.

IBN is a new and evolving networking technology. Companies including Apstra, Cisco, and Juniper are betting that it's the next evolutionary step for enterprises. On the following pages, l explain basic IBN concepts, describe some of the benefits, and provide a reality check for this emerging trend.

(Image: Yurchanka Siarhei/Shutterstock)

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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