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Intent-based networking (IBN) is a form of network administration that automates aspects of the management of the network. Though similar in some ways to software-defined networking, which abstracts some of the tasks in a given network's administration, intent-based networking adds its own abstraction and automation of what used to be a strictly manual process.
In intent-based networking, a user interface directs the administration of the network with higher-level indicators that function to "show" the technology the system administrator's "intent," which the technology then implements with some degree of automation. Intent-based networking removes some of the labor burden of traditional, manual, iterative management of individual switches, routers and other components. Through machine learning and artificial intelligence systems, intent-based networking tools can deliver functionality without express human step-by-step programming.
One of the best analogies to intent-based networking is to the evolution of HTML editor interfaces in the early days of the web. Instead of writing raw HTML or CSS code, the user inputs commands into an abstracted system that then writes the code by itself. Similarly, intent-based networking tools take abstracted commands and undertake the nuts and bolts of implementation more or less on their own.