Intent-based networking: the top 5 most frequently asked questions

Intent-based networking is more than just a buzz-phrase; it’s a software-based approach that can help IT departments design and build networks with enormous improvements to their availability and agility.

What is Intent-based networking?
Imagine an enterprise network configured automatically from your business policies and goals. An enterprise network that continually monitors and adjusts itself, maintaining its desired state, always. This is an intent-based network.

Gartner Research Vice President Andrew Lerner says intent-based networking systems are not a new concept, and in fact, the ideas behind intent-based networking have been around for years. Historically networks are managed to work toward an end goal. However, with recent innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning, this process can finally be fully automated.

What can intent-based networking do for your business?
These are just some of the benefits to be harnessed from a move to intent-based networking.

  • Ensure that your network architecture enables your business operations rather than constricting them.
  • Free up your network administrators’ time to focus on strategic or creative goals.
  • Gather new intelligence from across your network and use it to power continual improvement and optimisation.
  • Ensure that your network can adapt to the same speed and flexibility as the broader digital economy.
  • Protect your critical data and applications from sophisticated cyber threats.

No matter what the scope of your organisation or the sectors you operate in, intent-based networking will enable you to respond to growing complexity with agility and assurance.

Intent-based networking and SDN. What’s the main difference?
Intent-based networking and software-defined networking are similar in many aspects, with the goal of both approaches is to abstract the management from individual devices and align it closer to how a business needs to operate.  Both technology approaches rely on a centralised controller to manage distributed devices on the network, as opposed to individually managing each device from its management console.

Where the two approaches differ is at the administrator level. SDN abstracts the management control from the devices, but it continues to have a device-centric view of the network. Commands in the SDN world are primarily about how devices should operate.

With intent-based networking, the commands are abstracted at a higher level, taking them from being device-centric to being business-centric.

Is intent-based networking the next big thing?
IT departments have long considered networking a necessary evil. Intent-based networking is hailed as the “next big thing” in networking, offering true agility and faster delivery. Building on the power of machine learning, software-defined networking, and advanced automation, intent-based networking systems have the potential to give IT time back from time-consuming, repetitive network configuration tasks so it can focus on business innovation.

What is Cisco DNA?
Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) is a bridge to an intent-based network. It provides an open, extensible, software-driven approach that accelerates and simplifies enterprise network operations – across the campus, branch, WAN, and extended enterprise.

Cisco provides a single network architecture that is powered by intelligence and built-in security to deliver automation and assurance across an entire organisation at scale.

Cisco DNA offers a roadmap to virtualise everything, giving businesses the freedom and flexibility to run any service anywhere, whatever the platform – physical, hybrid, or cloud-based.