An Introduction to Intent-Based Networking Systems

Published On July 19, 2018 | By Neva Occhipinti | Business

As the internet grows and grows with no end in sight, it is natural that there would come to be some problems regarding the effective management of so much information and the management of networks themselves. While the mostly-manual operation of the original internet (internet 1.0, as it is sometimes affectionately called) had some advantages, it would never be practical for a world wide web that has truly become worldwide. 

Intent based networking systems are an attempt to solve this problem. So, what does this term mean? It is simply a term that refers to the automation of network management using various scripts and algorithms. The job of a network administrator of made much easier by automating some aspects of the process. Of course, there are always some flaws in these automated processes but the industry soldiers on. 

This technology was first announced by Cisco and hailed as the reinvention of the internet. This technology is said to manage networks in an “intuitive” way, managing the daily flow of information guided by the habits and expectations of the site owner. One of the stated reasons for the development of this technology is the need to greatly expand networks for the purpose of accommodating mobile devices, which far outnumber computers at this point.  

Perhaps the most interesting feature of this software is the ability to track malware even through an encryption. Hackers, spammers, and other online nuisances are usually able to hide malware from early detection through the use of heavy encryption, but this technology may put a stop to that. Interestingly, the software is not able to decrypt the encrypted traffic but is still able to track known malware programs even when they are sent over encrypted lines. The software also features a detailed and comprehensive analytics program that accumulates all known network data and uses machine learning to construct a plan of action. 

Of course, the user is still in control. While these programs operate using a kind of artificial intelligence (or at least what passes for such), the site owner must define all the parameters and of course, the site owner still has the final say. This is particularly important when it comes to policy enforcement. Most sites that involve any degree of social interaction have policies about what you can say or do. When a person is penalized by mistake (which often happens), it creates resentment and bad press that tend to spread, and which can be very damaging. 

Some say that intent based networking is just hype. Gartner VP Andrew Lerner seems unimpressed with this technology, but only because he feels that automation needs to work on the entire network at once rather than working on a box by box basis. Basically, he is arguing against compartmentalization of tasks and resources. However, the argument is long on dismissal and short on facts. He references events from the past that seemed similar and turned out to be nothing but hype. However, he offers no evidence regarding the current situation. 

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