Data centre Network automation

Focus on Intent-Based Networking (IBN)

Romain Quinat
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Romain Quinat , Marketing manager , Nomios France

3 min. read
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Why is Intent-Based Networking critical to maintaining data centre agility and security?

Intent-based networking (IBN) is a form of network management that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI), orchestration and Machine Learning (ML) to automate the management of administrative operations and reduce manual intervention.

Administrators define an ideal network based on business and user requirements that are managed and maintained by the software in compliance with corporate security policies. An "intent" is typically entered by the operator in a graphical interface or via an API, and then interpreted by the solution which configures the network accordingly to achieve the desired objective.

Intent-based networking software will not only validate the accuracy of the design and configuration and monitor the state of the network in real-time but will also take corrective action automatically to ensure that policies are followed. According to Gartner, this technology creates autonomous infrastructures that dramatically simplify network tasks, scalability and security while meeting changing market needs. IBNs continuously learn and adapt to the network environment based on the massive amount of data they collect in real-time.

Your network is the backbone of the information system and IT resilience

Traditionally, administrators have operated networks manually via command-line interfaces (CLIs), element management systems (EMSs) or automation scripts. Most network failures were the result of human error during these operations.

A study "Measuring the true cost of network outages" conducted by Opengear highlighted the economic stakes of these outages indicating that 31% of the companies surveyed lost more than one million euros per year to IT network outages. A further 23% have seen an increase of at least 25% in the number of outages over the past five years. By automating network management and manual interventions, intent-based networking drastically reduces risk while improving operational efficiency.

Digital transformation and the increased reliance on cloud-based applications and services have posed new challenges for CIOs to focus on growth and transformation rather than just operational IT management.

The global health crisis, coupled with the significant increase in e-commerce, the offshoring of key services - teleworking and collaboration tools - the development of hyperconnectivity and ultimately the acceleration of digital transformation has further complicated IT environments. This results in network errors and numerous service disruptions in data centres. Not to mention the increased IT costs associated with network operations.

In this context - where network agility and responsiveness is more critical than ever - managing network connectivity, a time-consuming and resource-intensive task has become critical to efficient operations.

While the cloud is pushing workloads out of enterprise perimeter environments, IBN solutions allow data centre administrators to create, manage and monitor their policies regardless of the location of those workloads, with the software always applying the same policies, regardless of the physical or virtual servers, public or private cloud, VMs or containers used.

Is IBN just an evolution of SDN?

IBN and SDN (Software-Defined Networking) are complementary technologies. They rely on a centralised device management controller and are able to understand the network configuration and the interaction between different devices.

While SDN has a device-centric view of the network and how it operates, IBN formulates its network commands based on intent, i.e. it formulates them as network-wide enabled business requests. IBN, therefore, enriches the SDN with artificial intelligence to understand the business objectives and translate them into automated network configurations.

Combined with SDN, IBN is a learning technology that radically transforms the way networks are designed, implemented and managed. It is a new step towards modern, resilient and agile networks that support our increasingly digital society.

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