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Are you networking with intent?

Published: March 26th, 2018 By: Cindy Baker

Cisco

Intent-based networking could be the next big thing in connectivity, according to Gartner Research. This new approach to networking is based on software that automates network functions to align with the intent or goals of the business.

“The network has never been more critical to business success, but it’s also never been under more pressure,” said Chuck Robbins, chief executive officer for Cisco.

Today’s networks are not set up to meet the demands of the digital era. IT must be able to make network changes fast and at scale. Instead, networks are fragmented and manual.

Intent-based networking is a “stark departure from the way enterprise networks are managed today,” says Gartner.“It promises to improve network availability and agility, which are key as organizations transition to digital business.”

A network that can learn new tricks
Intent-based networking is an intelligent platform to help plan, design, implement, and operate networks to support business goals.

Here’s how it works. The first step is for the IT team to outline the organization’s network policies using a graphical user interface. The system provides the translation and validation of the intent and automatically pushes configurations that meet the requirements. It makes it “possible to manage millions of devices in minutes,” says Gartner.

The platform automates the edge of the network and embeds machine learning and analytics. As a result, it is constantly monitoring network performance and interpreting the data so that it can make adjustments to ensure that the intent is always being met. In this way, the network is always optimized to provide the best user experience. Since it’s enabled by machine learning, the more you use it, the smarter it gets. With these insights, it can predict issues before they become issues

Security is inherent in the network, embedded everywhere to be the first line of defence at every connection. The network’s “intuition” will learn the patterns of hacking attempts and make ongoing decisions to prevent or stop them before damage is done.

How a smart network makes a difference
According to Cisco, IT teams currently spend 43 per cent of their time troubleshooting network issues. The intent-based network provides full visibility, historical and real-time and predicts problems before they happen. It also addresses challenges associated with scaling the network to deal with the multitude of new connections required for mobility and the Internet of Things.

Early customer use of Cisco’s intent-based networking has demonstrated dramatic results. Operational costs were reduced by 61 per cent, a savings amounting to two to times that of the capital investment. There was a 67 per cent reduction in network provisioning time and an 80 per cent improvement in issue resolution. The impact of security breaches was reduced by 48 per cent.

Similarly, Gartner predicts that an intent-based network system can reduce network infrastructure delivery times by 50 to 90 per cent, while simultaneously reducing the number and duration of outages by at least 50 per cent.

Overall, it’s a significant advancement in networking that Cisco says will help businesses to unlock new opportunities and solve previously unsolvable challenges.

Learn more about Cisco’s intent-based networking