NetworkWorld

Gary Eastwood

How Intent-Based Networking Is Transforming an Industry

The fundamental principles of intent-based networking have been present for years, but only recently has this phenomenon grown to its full size today, where it stands to upend modern industry and business practices. So what exactly is intent-based networking, and is it really so marvelous to warrant the recent renewal in interest and support it’s gained?

A brief foray into intent-based networking shows that, while it’s a very complex technology, it’s rather easy to grasp a basic understanding of it. Furthermore, a look at what some of today’s top companies are doing with this tech, and some ruminations about what they plan to do in the future, shows just how significantly intent-based networking can reshape modern markets.

A rising market

Intent-based networking systems, or IBNS, have existed in theory for a long time, but have only recently become attainable due to advances in things such as machine learning and data analytics. In a nutshell, IBNS aims to have one networking administrator in charge of an entire system, offering guidelines and creating a rough framework only to have automated software implement it. It relies on the speed and efficacy of machines to replace humans as implementers, but also uses recent tech-breakthroughs to add intelligence to the network, which separates it from past innovations.

As new advancements in technology have only just now made IBNS a possibility, the market for it is almost entirely untapped. Only the bravest of pioneers, like Cisco and a forward-thinking SEO company, have even begun to try and implement a IBNS with expectations that it could actually work. So how are these early adopters fairing in their quest to transform modern ways of business?

Cisco’s attempt to create an “intuitive” network has garnered quite a bit of media attention. The company’s CEO claims that it’s new system is capable of “thinking” on behalf of customers, and while it may be a stretch to say current IBNS are fully autonomous or intelligent now, the technology that’s driving this phenomenon is only getting more advanced, more rapidly.

Investment in artificial intelligence, for instance, has leaped upwards by a huge amount in the past few years alone, to the point where some are beginning to question whether we’re developing it too quickly. As AI, machine learning, and data analytics all come to be more commonplace in our markets, companies like Cisco will soon find that they’re not alone when it comes to embracing IBNS-centered approaches to business and research.

Intent-based networking is, like many other automation and AI-related tech, simply better than human beings at doing specific tasks. IBNS has the ability to take directions from a human network administrator and translate it into a flurry of actions carried out by software throughout an entire network, creating the system the network administrator wants faster and cheaper than a team of human workers could.

Before IBNS can take the market by storm, however, it must be refined and redesigned to take into account some of its early flaws.

Building tomorrow’s network

The same advancements that have given birth to the possibility of IBNS haven’t quite come far enough to allow it to fully flourish overnight. Like many other AI-focused phenomenon of our time, it won’t be until current machine learning capabilities are expanded upon until IBNS becomes truly ubiquitous or cheap for everyone to use.

Andrew Lerner, the research director of Gartner, recently described in a blog post how fruitful IBNS will one day be for businesses – but only after it’s been pioneered. Lerner rightfully points towards some of today’s most ambitious startups, like Apstra and Veriflow, as signs of serious progress in the field. Lerner, like many others in his field, stresses that IBNS is only a nascent technology, but it nonetheless has the potential to fundamentally reshape how we build our networks by saving us significant time and money.

Tomorrow’s networks will need, more than anything else, the ability to scale massively to accommodate all of the forthcoming data that’s about to rock our society. As the Internet of Things continues to expand around the world, literally billions of more devices will become connected, and they’ll all need networks to send and manage their data inside of. Dealing with such an avalanche of data won’t be easy, but IBNS offers a serious way to enhance connectivity greatly without cutting too far into the budget of tech giants or ambitious startups alike.

As fears continue to grow about the perils of automation and artificial intelligence, intent-based networking shows that there’s often more to gain by embracing these technologies than by shunning them. IBNS is only in its formative years, and has a long way to go before it’s recognized and used throughout the business world, but it’s ability to cut cost while transforming how we build our digital networks will undoubtedly shake up our markets for years to come.

 

This article was written by Gary Eastwood from NetworkWorld and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.