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Category: intent-based networking

Intent-Based Networking: Another Victim of Sturgeon's Law

A few days ago Greg Ferro published an interesting post claiming DHCP is an example of intent-based networking (a bit less tongue-in-cheek than my “so is OSPF configuration” rant from 2017). BTW, so is RADIUS or TACACS+ ;)

He got quickly “corrected” by Phil Gervasi who loosely relied on Gartner’s definition of Intent-Based Networking, and claimed that an intent-based networking system should have three major components:

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IP Fabric with Gian-Paolo Boarina on Software Gone Wild

No, we were not talking about IP fabrics in general - IP Fabric is a network management software (oops, network assurance platform) Gian Paolo discovered a while ago and thoroughly tested in the meantime.

He was kind enough to share what he found in Episode 107 of Software Gone Wild, and as Chris Young succinctly summarized: “it’s really sad what we still get excited about something 30 years after it was first promised”… but maybe this time it really works ;)

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Intent-Based Networking with Batfish on Software Gone Wild

Imagine you would have a system that would read network device configurations, figure out how those devices might be connected, reverse-engineer the network topology, and be able to answer questions like “what would happen if this link fails” or “do I have fully-redundant network” or even “how will this configuration change impact my network”. Welcome to Batfish.

Interested? You’ll find more in Episode 104 of Software Gone Wild.

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How Hard Is It to Manage Your Intent?

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Remember the “every device configuration is really an expression of our intent” discussion? Forgetting the wrong level of abstraction (we mostly don’t want to deal with all the idiosyncratic stuff network devices want to see in their configurations) and box-oriented thinking caused by device-level intent for the moment, let’s focus on another aspect: how hard is it to manage your intent?

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Worth Reading: Intent-Based Networking Taxonomy

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Saša Ratković (Apstra) published a must-read Intent-Based Networking Taxonomy which (not surprisingly) isn’t too far from what I had to say about the topic in a blog post and related webinar.

It’s also interesting to note that the first three levels of intent-based networking he described match closely what we’re discussing in Building Network Automation Solutions online course and what David Barroso described in Network Automation Use Cases webinar:

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What Is Intent-Based Networking?

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Whenever someone mentions intent-based networking I try to figure out what exactly they’re talking about. Not surprisingly, I get a different answer every single time. Confused by all that, I tried to find a good definition, but all I could find was vendor marketing along the lines of “Intent-based networking captures and translates business intent so that it can be applied across the network,” or industry press articles regurgitating vendor white papers.

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Layers of Single-Pane-of-Glass Abstractions Won’t Solve Your Problems

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We’ve been told for years how we’re over-complicating networking, and how the software-defined or intent-based whatever will remove all that complexity and remove the need for networking engineers.

What never ceases to amaze me is how all these software-defined systems are demonstrated: each one has a fancy GUI that looks great in PowerPoint and might even work in practice assuming you’re doing exactly what they demonstrated… trying to be creative could result in interesting disasters.

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BGP Route Selection: a Failure of Intent-Based Networking

It’s interesting how the same pundits who loudly complain about the complexities of BGP (and how it will be dead any time soon and replaced by an SDN miracle) also praise the beauties of intent-based networking… without realizing that the hated BGP route selection process represents one of the first failures of intent-based approach to networking.

Let’s start with some definitions. There are two ways to get a job done by someone else:

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Intent-Based Hype

It all started with a realistic response I got to my automation and orchestration blog post (here’s a unicorn-driving-a-DeLorean one in case you missed it):

Maybe you could also add the "intent-based network" which is also not so far from orchestration?

It got me thinking. The way I understand intent-based whatever, it’s an approach where I tell a system what I want it to do, not how to do it.

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