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The Future Is Intent-Based Networking

Posted by Resilient Intelligent Networks on Aug 30, 2017 3:00:00 PM
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What if configuring your enterprise network was as simple as setting a Wi-Fi home thermostat? Simply enter a few parameters – keep the heat at 70 but drop it down to 62 at night – and the underlying technology takes care of the rest.

Want to set up least-cost network routing? Simply tell your network to move this app’s traffic from segment A to segment B when it passes a certain threshold, and be done. No worrying about underlying switches or routers, or constantly reconfiguring access control lists. Provide your intent via a few parameters and let the network orchestrates and automate the necessary underlying technology. That’s the idea behind intent-based networking.

Gartner, which coined the term, predicts intent-based networking will become mainstream as early as 2020, as more organizations realize how it works and the benefits it brings. For example, intent-based networking features:

  • Translation and validation: It takes high-level policy input from administrators (i.e., “configure the guest Wi-Fi”) and converts it to the necessary network configuration. It also validates the results to ensure they correctly align with the original policy.

  • Automated implementation: Using network automation and orchestration, the network itself handles all the configuration changes to ensure the policy is enacted correctly, offloading humans from rote, repetitive tasks while eliminating the chance of human errors creeping in.

  • Awareness of network state: The network constantly monitors itself and automatically responds to changes in state to ensure it continually adheres to policy, all without administrators having to worry about underlying transport layers or protocols.

  • Assurance and dynamic optimization/remediation: The network adjusts in real time to accommodate changes in state, taking corrective actions like blocking traffic, adding network capacity or kicking off alerts when it strays from the stated intent.

Anyone who’s tried managing an enterprise network across mobile, cloud, and IoT will see the benefits of such a technology immediately. Networks will become far more:

  • Scalable: Performance and capacity can ratchet up or down as policy and business needs change, all without having to manage underlying hardware or software.

  • Vendor-agnostic: The network doesn’t care who makes the underlying switch or provides the MPLS segment; it orchestrates all the underlying solutions, freeing network staff from having to learn and code for every vendor’s unique idiosyncrasies.

  • Easier to control. With intent-based networks, admins no longer need to manually update complex access control lists or firewall rules. The network figures out how to adhere to the right policy on its own, ensuring access is both easy to secure and easy to grant and scale.

  • Stable: With human error out of the picture, network configuration issues will become a thing of the past. Computers are made to do rote tasks correctly, and when set to check their work, do so far more diligently than time-stressed humans with more important tasks to accomplish.

  • Secure: Since all configuration is based on policy and automated, the chances of introducing security holes is diminished. Plus, the network can change as the threat landscape does, ensuring the network is always set to defend the latest attacks.

That last part is especially important, but ensuring your security toolset has the capacity to understand and respond to intent isn’t easy. That’s where Fortinet’s Security Fabric approach comes in. Much like intent-based networks, it translates and validates business requirements into automated and synchronized network security actions – without human intervention.

As a Fortinet partner, Resilient can help you are ready for both intent-based networking and intent-based security. Learn more.

Read Also: "Moving to “Intent-Based” Security in a Hyperconnected World" >>

 

Fortinet Security Fabric 

 

Topics: security fabric, Intent-based Security

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