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Benefits of Intent-Based Networking

One of the biggest challenges for Network managers is the growth of IT costs within network operations. The explosion of data and devices is starting to outpace customer’s IT capabilities. Up to 95% of network changes are performed manually, this means that the operational costs are between 2 or 3 times higher than the cost of the network.

IT Automation is essential for businesses to keep pace in the digital world. Most vendors lack an automated approach to network management and troubleshooting, resulting in IT running repetitive and error prone tasks.

Cisco’s Intent-Based Networks help customers simplify complexity, optimize IT, and reduce operational costs by leveraging intelligence, automation and human expertise that no other vendor can deliver.

Watch the video and read the white paper to understand the full potential of an Intent-Based Network

What is Intent-Based Networking?

Intent-Based Networking (IBNS) is the foundation of the new era of networking. The main principle is that the network takes the business intent and automatically transforms it into network configurations for all the devices. It reduces manual operation to the minimum.

IBNS also monitors continuously and adjusts to ensure alignment, providing an extra level of network visibility.

That’s achieved through a closed-loop system that includes policy-based automation, network analytics, and machine learning.

How does Intent-Based Networking work?

According to Gartner Research VP, Andrew Lerner, an Intent Based Networking System (IBNS) should have the following four components:

Translation and validation One of the key tenets of IBNS is its ability to translate commands from network administrators into actions the software performs. The idea is that network managers define a high-level business policy they want enforced in the network. The IBNS verifies that the policy can be executed.
Automated implementation After a network manager defines the desired state of the network, the IBNS software manipulates network resources to create the desired state and enforce policies.
Awareness of state Another key component of IBNS is its gathering of data to constantly monitor the state of the network.
Assurance and dynamic optimization/remediation The IBNS constantly ensures the desired state of the network is maintained. It uses machine learning to choose the best way to implement the desired state and can take automated corrective action to maintain state.

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Let’s take a simple example to better understand what is the concept of Intent-Based Networking: The business may define that a contract employee is given access to only a specific set of data and applications. This is the intent.

In an IBNS, all the network devices will be automatically configured to fulfil this requirement across the network, no matter where the employee is connected. VLAN, subnet, ACL and all other details will be automatically defined and configured following best practices. The intent has to be defined once in a central management console, and then, the network will continuously assure it, even if there are changes in the network.

What are the benefits of Intent-Based Networking?

Traditional networks lack an automation platform across all the network, relegating its customers to spend significant time on network management and increasing their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

IT Automation is essential for businesses to keep pace in the digital world. Intent-Based Networks help customers tackle their biggest network IT expense – operations – and frees IT time for strategic projects.

The business benefits of Intent-Based Networking are clearly recognized in four 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. Minimizing the errors and reducing the time spent on troubleshooting.
  • Improved automation. It 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.
Automation 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.
Assurance 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.
Security 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.

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How do I deploy an Intent-Based Network?

Cisco Software Defined Access (Cisco SD-Access) is the industry’s first Intent-Based Networking solution for the enterprise. It is built on the principles of Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA).

SD-Access provides:

  • Consistent management of wired and wireless network provisioning and policy to unify the access and support mobility
  • Automated network segmentation and group-based policy to simplify onboarding new devices, such as IoT, and to enhance the security
  • Contextual insights for fast issue resolution and capacity planning
  • Open and programmable interfaces for integration with third-party solutions and to fully interoperate with the Cloud

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Find out more about the top considerations for implementing an intent-based network. Or contact us now.

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