The concept of intent-based networking is indeed an evolutionary leap in how we design, manage and maintain the enterprise networks of today. Gartner a while back actually coined the phrase of IBN. Rather than relying on manual intervention, intent-based networking incorporates AI and machine learning to automate administrative tasks and functions. Admins can define the desired state of the network that correlate with the needs of the business enterprise. A software orchestrator governs the network, monitoring performance and enforcing policies in order to achieve predicted performance levels. It is an entirely new approach to networking. One could easily write an entire white paper on the subject of IBN, but in the end, what you really want to know is how it benefits you and your company. Therefore, we have done that here, listing ten of the biggest benefits of an intent-based network.
Let’s face it; every business is trying to be as agile as possible today in order to compete in an ever-disruptive world with narrowing windows of opportunity. When IT can unleash itself from the dependency of human intervention and instead, incorporate machine-based analytics, your enterprise can get attain greater flexibility in quick succession. According to Gartner, IBN can reduce delivery times within network infrastructure by 50 to 90 percent. Guided by real-time analytics, your network can respond to changing conditions in dynamic fashion. In a dynamic world, you need a dynamic and responsive network.
It’s very simple. If your traditional network is reliant on manual deployment, configuration and troubleshooting tasks, then your ability to scale is limited to the size of your staff. It is a straightforward relationship. If tasks cannot be implemented without the direct involvement of your staff, then growth is limited, and expensive. Just as automation scaled the manufacturing industry, it can expand the capabilities of your network’s productivity and expansion as well. With IBN, IT can quickly and easily provision, expand and reallocate services.
3. Expanded Network Visibility
Do you really know what resides on your network? Are there areas of your network WAN that are a little foggy? In an intent-based network, you have complete visibility into all network devices. However, visible confirmation of a device’s existence is not enough. IBN provides full visibility into how your network is operating, supporting the desired business initiatives, and achieving compliance. Deployments of devices, configurations and policies are visible for all remote offices and clouds, regardless of location.
4. Consolidated Dashboard
Normally, the words expansive and consolidated work contrary to one another. In the case of a controller-led IBN such as Cisco DNA Center, expansive and consolidated can be used cohesively. That is because you can visually monitor and manage your entire network through a single dashboard. That means your datacenter; remote offices and multiple clouds are visibly accessed through a single portal. Multiple tools are compiled into one platform, giving you total functionality throughout.
5. Increased Efficiency
When you automate manual processes, you increase the efficiency of those processes. Machines perform mind-numbing tasks such as updates and configuration assignments better than humans do. Automation goes beyond these types of perpetual tasks however. Cisco estimates that IT staff members spend up to 43 percent of their time troubleshooting technical issues. Because AI analytics drives network operations within the IBN, troubleshooting is also automated. When network performance discrepancies are identified, guided remediation is made available so that IT can address problems immediately with little guesswork.
6. Vendor Neutral
IBN is vendor agnostic. That is a good thing because most enterprise networks consists of multivendor components. IBN is an open platform that delivers 360 visibility and extensibility as well. This eliminates the need for deep vendor knowledge. IBN solutions such as Cisco DNA Center utilize multivendor SDKs that allow the controller to interact and monitor network devices from multiple vendors.
7. Reduced Risk
Human error is the root cause of most data breaches. In fact, research shows that nearly 90 percent of all cyber claims stem from some type of human error or behavior. When you eliminate manual tasking from the deployment, configuration and basic operational tasks, you eliminate the possibility of human error. This in turn eliminates security gaps. Orchestrated automation enforces strict directives for all assigned tasks, regardless of workload. No more oversights, no more fat-finger typos. IBN assures predicted secure results.
8. A More Secure Environment
The more sources that information is drawn from, the better that information is. IBN is built on the principle of network and security convergence. This means that your network at large becomes a network of security sensors. All of this information is then correlated in real time so that threats and suspicious activities are quickly identified and can be mitigated before actual damage is done.
9. Insightful Analysis
In IBN environment, the end-to-end network is continually aligned with the intent of the business. To do this requires more than just data driven analytics. A thorough understanding of network performance regarding applications and user experiences requires contextual insights as well. This level of insight leads to predicted workload performances and optimal user based experiences.
10. Greater Control over Performance
Too often business potential is hindered by the limitations of the network. The modern day network should work for the business. The greater control that is achievable in an IBN environment goes far beyond the ability to see into your entire network. With IBN, network administrators define the desired state of the network. They input the defined intent of what the network should be. While we could have listed this key benefit first, you have to understand how all of the aspects of automation and assurance get us to this powerful endpoint.
Next Steps: Learn more about Cisco DNA Center in our blog titled "Make your Network Work For You With Cisco DNA Center"