What is Intent-based Networking?

According to Gartner, Inc., “Intent-based networking is not a product, or a market. Instead, it is a piece of networking software that helps to plan, design and implement/operate networks that can improve network availability and agility.  Another way to describe it would be lifecycle management software for networking infrastructure.”

Mapping the intent in the heads of network architects and policy managers into the arcane protocols and configurations of a complex modern network can be a challenge. The first step towards an intent-based networking architecture is verifying network intent. Comparing design with actual implementation. Forward Networks can verify that intent is met by analyzing network-wide configurations and state information, and analyzing a behaviorally-accurate software model to identify and remediate any policy or intent violations.

Representing Intent in the Forward Networks Platform

Forward Networks represents your network intent as a series of policy statements and requirements that are verified against a software model of the network. The intent language is able to focus on complete network paths and topology-independent directives because it is not doing box-by-box analysis the old-fashioned way. It looks at the network end-to-end, in aggregate, analyzing the model under all scenarios, and identifying errors where implementation does not match intent.

Intent statements are defined by users, along with standard baseline checks supplied with the system, according to the needs of their business. These statements are a bridge from the high-level policy objectives in the heads of the architects and admins, and to the configurations and behavior in the heart of your network.

How Can you Build an Intent-Based Network?

The first step towards intent-based networking is to leverage a system that can verify your current network design and behavior, ensuring it is aligned with current intent. The Forward Platform and Forward Enterprise not only analyze and ensure network intent in your current state, it can compare intent to prior network states, or test and verify intent after potential network changes before they are released live into the network.

Forward Networks quickly identifies any existing network issues with its powerful search capabilities, as well as head-off future problems due to misconfigurations and human errors. Once remediation is identified, we’ll verify the new network behavior and where changes should be pushed. We accelerate change windows, improve network reliability and help IT admins and operators sleep better at night.

What Industry Experts are Saying about Intent-based Networking

Organizations interested in intent-based networking can get an early start by deploying network search and verification solutions like the one offered by Forward Networks. These solutions help accelerate processes around analyzing network intent and problem resolution.

Bob Laliberte
Senior Analyst
Enterprise Strategy Group

There will be a strong demand for intent-based networking solutions, where intent is captured explicitly, and policy can be applied to completely de-risk the network and provably demonstrate operational compliance with original intent.

Cliff Grossner, Ph.D.
Senior Research Director and Advisor
IHS Markit