Software-defined Networking (SDN) have become established in data centre networks and enterprise network infrastructures with Intent-based Networking (IBN) being the next stage in the evolution where the focus is firmly on business benefits and the best possible support by the network.
By using IBN solutions, IT departments have a toolset on hand that enables business requirements to be implemented into the network infrastructure. In principle, a Business Intent (the plan of what is to be achieved) is pre-determined at a central point by creating a policy which is then assigned to the network components before the systems implement the guidelines across the network. The network works like a system and not like a collection of individual systems.
Business Intent (BI): I want to prioritise SAP applications in my network and only enable access to the SALES user group.
Network implementation: A central IBN controller translates the formulated BI for the necessary QoS and security policies for the individual network components (router, LAN switches, WLAN access points, WLAN controllers, …) and pushes the policies to the systems. Through corresponding feedback loops and continuous system monitoring, it can be checked whether or not policies are being complied with.
This means comprehensive visibility into whether my network is behaving according to the formulated BI. If network framework parameters or conditions that influence the active policy change, the system will automatically react and take corrective steps to ensure the policies are complied with using extensive analytics and machine learning.
IBN also allows for the trend of automating network solutions, which is an important aspect for those responsible for network operation in corporate IT departments.
Cisco is one of the few manufacturers that takes a cross-domain approach, i.e. they strive to implement consistent campus and branch network policies through WAN to the data centre and multi-cloud.
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