Smart Network Management with Intent-Based Networking (IBN)

Network management is becoming increasingly complex and resource-intensive in today’s fast-paced, complex, and evolving IT environments. While software-defined networking automates most network management processes, most tasks still require manual involvement by skilled network administrators. But humans are slow, inconsistent, and often expensive.The stakes are even higher considering the rise in remote working models and pandemic-related lockdowns that limit network administrators’ ability to access network equipment physically. Intent-based networking eliminates many of these problems by supporting rapid, at-scale management and ensuring the network is more autonomic.

What Is Intent-Based Networking?

Intent-based networking is a smart network management trend that incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning, and network orchestration to automate administrative tasks. Intent-based networking takes your network—regardless of the vendor or network devices’ operating system—and transforms it from piecemeal, node-by-node management to an autonomic network.

The resulting network is self-operated, self-corrected, and self-adjusted based on the parameters of your expressed objectives. You can think of “intent” as an outcome or business objective you’d like the network to accomplish. Intent-based networking is a complete departure from the way network administrators manage networks today.

A traditional network relies on a command-line interface (CLI) that manually sets up all network vendors’ devices individually. Each vendor has its own unique interface and syntax. As such, network administrators must learn the CLI syntax for each vendor device to achieve business outcomes, which is tedious and time-consuming.

In contrast, intent-based networking is algorithm-based, end-to-end networking that manages all network devices seamlessly from a single pane of glass. The primary goal of intent-based networking is to minimize the complexity of creating, managing, and enforcing network policies. It also reduces the manual labor associated with configuration management in traditional networking.

How does Intent-Based Networking Work?

IBN is based on software-defined networking (SDN), and it employs a network controller as a centralized control point for network operations. These controllers are essential for network abstraction, which allows IT to handle the network. Controller-led networks in all domains (access, WAN, data center, and cloud) interact and expand their advantages across the company, assisting in the realization of digital transformation.

IBN’s closed-loop solution uses the following functional building components to offer intent or support for the business or IT results your company requires.

What is the Purpose of Intent-Based Networking?

From start-ups to established networking suppliers, intent-based networking firms provide a variety of services. However, the idea is to employ machine learning and cognitive computing to enable increased automation and decreased time wasted on manual configuration and maintenance through networking. They sell software that translates user intent into the network configuration. Network managers establish a result or business objective—the intent—and the network’s software, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, works out how to accomplish that aim.

To verify intentions, intent-based networking solutions don’t just give real-time insight into a network’s activity and automate lengthy operations, but they also anticipate any deviations from that purpose and advise what must be done to ensure that intent. The network becomes quicker and more agile because of this greater intelligence, and mistakes are found less. Intent-based networking relies heavily on this capacity to monitor itself as well as correct itself.

What is the Core Component of Intent-Based Networking?

An intent-based network has four primary components:

The above intent-based networking components have one goal: allowing network administrators to specify what they want their networks to do. In turn, the intent-based network platform automatically generates the desired network status with enforced policies.

Key Elements for Intent Based Networking Autonomy

Intent-based networking requires five crucial elements that must work together to achieve network autonomy. Here is what each element performs:

What Are Some Benefits of Intent-Based Networking?

Intent-based networking has numerous benefits compared to traditional networking and even software-defined networking. It can:

Intent Based Networking Drawbacks

There are several difficulties that might arise while using the IBNS because it is an unproven technology. Among them are:

What Are the Differences between Intent-Based Networking and Software-Defined Networking?

Intent-based networking and software-defined networking share similarities, albeit with some differences. First, both network management approaches centralized management of distributed devices on the network. This contrasts with traditional networking, where network administrators use a command-line interface to manage each device individually via its own management console.

Second, both approaches abstract the management from distributed network devices, aligning them closer to how the organization wants to operate. In this regard, both intent-based networking and software-defined networking can comprehend the network configuration and interaction across several network devices.

Despite the similarities, the two approaches differ in how they abstract the management control at an administrative level. While software-defined networking abstracts the management control panel from network devices, it is still hardware-centric. While this orchestrates network management processes, you still need network administrators to manage some tasks manually.

In contrast, intent-based networking abstracts the management control plane from a higher level, taking it from hardware-centric to business-centric. In software-defined networking, network administrators issue commands that comprehend device names or types, internet protocol (IP) ranges, virtual local area networks (VLANs), and other networking constructs.

On the other hand, intent-based networking allows network administrators to issue commands from a business perspective. It then leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to translate the commands and orchestrate network management tasks.

How You Can Enable Cloud Automation with Parallels RAS

Enterprise IT landscapes are becoming increasingly complex as organizations transition from on-premises to cloud computing. This shift has accelerated the development of network management approaches such as software-defined networking and intent-based networking. Orchestration can help organizations achieve significant advances in speed, agility, and security by simplifying many administrative tasks running in data centers.

Leveraging an out-of-the-box virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution such as Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) can help you modernize your IT infrastructure after transitioning to the cloud. Parallels RAS has inbuilt cloud automation tools that can free IT administrators from performing repetitive and lengthy tasks. Some of these tools include:

Experience for yourself how Parallels RAS enables cloud automation!

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