Cisco talks intent-based networking with SDN


Cisco has continued its blog series which talks about elements of and use cases for intent-based networking with the latest one focusing on the relationship of software-defined networking (SDN) to intent-based networking.

Written by John Apostolopoulos, CTO/VP of Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business, the blog post aims to answer the question by comparing the model of SDN with intent-based networking as well as share their point-of-view about why these differences matter to their customers.

According to the blog, software-defined networking (SDN) was developed out of the need to automate, scale and optimize networking for applications that may be provided via an enterprise datacenter, a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), or as-a-service (public cloud). It is considered to be a centralized approach to the management of network infrastructure with plenty of important benefits to network and IT operators.

With SDN reaching its limits as organizations start to require even greater capabilities from their networks, intent-based networking aims to bring certain improvements with automated translation of business policies to IT (security and compliance) policies, automated deployment of these policies, and assurance that if the network is not providing the requested policies, they will receive proactive notification.

According to Cisco, SDN is a foundational building block of intent-based networking. As it addresses SDN’s limits, intent-based networking adds context, learning and assurance capabilities, “tightly coupling policy with intent”.

The intent based model introduces “translation” element, which leads to activation, and assurance.

According to Cisco, capabilities of  intent-based networking over SDN provide operators with greater flexibility in how to act:

  • Firstly, closed-loop feedback is critical to the operational success of intent-based networking.
  • Secondly, assurance does not occur at discrete times in an intent-based network. Continuous verification is essential since the state of the network is constantly changing. Continuous verification assures network performance and reliability.
  • Finally, if a problem occurs and a recommended fix has been identified, the operator can choose how recommended fixes are applied (depending on the user’s specified policy for that type of fix and the context of the problem), for example: routed to an administrator for “review and approval”, inserted into a ticketing system, or even automatically applied.

To conclude, intent-based networking augments SDN, giving the network agility required to accelerate digital transformation. By adding capabilities like translation and assurance, it provides agility, reliability, and security to any network.

You can check out the full blog post over on Cisco’s website.


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Slobodan Simic is foremost an IT enthusiast who discovered his knack for writing, which lead to becoming both an IT journalist and later an Editor for a number of publications. He has been covering anything from the consumer- and professional-oriented hardware to software markets and networks. With a focus on chasing down leads, making sure that fresh content is ready for publishing, as well as keeping up with the evergrowing and evolving IT world, writing has become more of his passion rather than just a job.