Intent-based Networking

Intent-based Networking

Intent-based networking describes a network that has the intelligence and automation necessary to set and modify its configurations to meet the organization’s business needs. An intent-based network can continuously align itself to required service levels, security, and IT compliance policies.

How does intent-based networking work?

Intent-based networking applies business intent to network configurations. The network continuously monitors and adjusts to ensure alignment. That’s achieved through a closed-loop system that includes policy-based automation, network analytics, and machine learning.


How do I benefit from intent-based networking?

The business benefits of intent-based networking are clearly recognized in three main areas:

  • Speed and agility. The network is able to rapidly respond to an organization’s needs with little manual intervention.
  • IT focus on delivering business value. The reduced time and effort required to maintain the network translates into more time for network innovations that provide real value to the business.
  • Reduced risk and continuous compliance.

Improved automation results in faster threat detection and containment, continuous compliance, and reduced downtime caused by human error.


What are the elements of intent-based networking?

For intent-based networking to work, a number of elements must come together. These include policy, automation, assurance and analytics, network security, and programmable network infrastructure. If any of these elements are missing or not well integrated, the resulting network will not function as a true intent-based network. Here's what each element does:

Business policy

Creates and understands policies associated with identity, access, service levels, security, and compliance and translates them into network requirements.


Automates the provisioning, configuration, and repair of the end-to-end network in a simple, orchestrated, and efficient way. Reduces delivery time and configuration effort.


Monitors, gathers, correlates, and presents data from users, network, devices, and applications. Derives deep operational and business insights that provide context and inform business and IT.


Integrates security into every aspect of the network. Rapidly detects threats and enforces policy anywhere in the enterprise or extended network, even in encrypted traffic.

Programmable network infrastructure

Offers a portfolio of highly secure, scalable, and programmable network elements (both physical and virtualized). These elements connect devices, transport data, and enable the policy, automation, assurance, and security elements described above.

Gartner on intent-based networking

Gartner’s analysis of intent-based networking

See how these solutions can lower network infrastructure delivery times and reduce outages by at least 50%.

IDC on intent-based networking

Intent-based networking in the limelight

Read IDC’s report on Cisco’s announcement of intent-based networking and Catalyst 9000 switches.

Itxpo Orlando insights on intent-based networking

The journey to intent-based networking

Get insights from Gartner ITxpo Orlando and learn about this transformational networking approach.

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Learn more about how Cisco DNA delivers on intent-based networking.

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