Why should companies be considering intent-based networking?

Q:

Why should companies be considering intent-based networking?

A:

The short answer to why intent-based networking is so important is that company networks are essentially the core infrastructure for most business models. More of what businesses do goes on through the internet or on other digital platforms – and all of that is served by the company's network. In the vast majority of cases, there's not really an alternate platform – the company network is it. It's the skeleton, internal organs and vitals of a physical and digital business infrastructure.

However, with that said, intent-based networking is also hot due to several primary reasons related to modernizing business IT architectures.

Intent-based networking makes networks more responsive and agile. Any number of analogies apply – in general, machine learning and artificial intelligence are making networks and all kinds of other technologies more automated, and basically, smarter. In the future, we’ll be calling yesterday's networks “dumb networks” because they didn't optimize themselves or automate key tasks – if we want to be kinder, we’ll call them “manual networks” – but the networks of the future will be self-optimizing and self-maintaining, to a high degree.

Here's another primary reason that companies need to invest in intent-based networking. Security is a major risk for any business. Data breaches can be extremely costly. Intent-based networking allows for embedded security that is much more fully “baked into” a network and ubiquitous across network segments and zones. One primary example is preparing for the internet of things – it's a chaotic environment for any digital business structure, and intent-based networking can help by automating how the company responds to all of those thousands and thousands of threat potentials from IoT-connected devices.

Intent-based networking provides context – it helps companies to get proactive about managing the resources they have against outside attackers and an uncertain future.

One more reason to adopt intent-based networking models is their popularity in the tech industry. Gartner talks about IBNS as an acronym for intent-based networking standards. Big providers like Cisco are also getting in on the game. With tools like the Cisco Network Assurance Engine, Cisco is promoting its own “translation – assurance – motivation” model that has improved awareness of network states.

“In a nutshell, IBNS is about giving network administrators the ability to define what they want the network to do, and having an automated network management platform create the desired state and enforce policies,” Brandon Butler writes in Network World, describing the role that these systems have to play in enterprise IT design.

In the end, intent-based networking is becoming the standard because of the concrete benefits it offers to businesses, both in terms of security and agility. In the future age of even more dynamic digital communications, intent-based networking takes the burden off of human management, and gives human teams powerful network technology “helpers” to deal with everything that goes on throughout the network.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.
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