Sep 6, 2017

Intent-Based Networking Examples: Part 1 – Intent

This is the first blog in a three-part series on “Examples of Intent-Based Networking”.

David Cheriton, Apstra Founder and Chief Scientist, published a blog titled Transition to Vendor-Agnostic Intent-Based Networking in which he states, “Intent raises the level of specification for network engineers to allow him or her to express what is needed, and not how to achieve it.”

Let’s understand that vision by looking at an example of “Intent”:

Notice there are three distinct characteristics of an “Intent”:

  1. Natural language, which is auditable, as the single source of truth for SLA and compliance purposes.
  2. Service-level, which allows you to manage the network as a system, vs. individual components.
  3. The what, not the how — so network engineers are elevated from how to configure vendor A devices, how to collect SNMP MIB ABC from device XYZ, and so on.

Seeing is believing — the following Apstra Operating System (AOS®) UI shows how to specify your intent:


David then described: “A ‘network operating system’ can take that intent and instruct (i.e. configure) each device to behave so as to achieve this intent …”

Here’s how AOS UI provides a topology view of the network — instructed (rendered) from an intent:


You might ask immediately: What about the detailed configuration of each device?
That is the focus of part 2 in this series on “Intent-Based Networking Part 2: Examples of Configuration”.