byasardell05-20-201709:45 AM - edited 05-24-201705:07 PM
This is Part I of a Two-Part Series, where we discuss the components and attributes of intent-based networking, including the capabilities for visibility, monitoring, and programmability from the Infrastucture. In Part II, we’ll detail several use cases for intent-based networking.
Intent-based resource management is the ability of an automation system to interpret the intent of the user and deliver the service to match that intent. In IT terms, if a user specifies an SLA for a resource, the automation system must include the following abilities:
Deliver the resource (network) to suit the SLA
On a continuous real time basis, monitor the service against the SLA
If and when the service falls out of compliance, take remedial action to restore compliance.
The ability to react quickly and decisively to a given situation is only possible when we implement a so-called MAPE-K loop as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Monitor, Analyze, Plan and Execute using Knowledge (Source: IBM)
The expression MAPE-K stands for Monitor, Analyze, Plan and Execute using Knowledge. As Figure 1 shows, there are sensors to handle events and collect data, and there are effectors to “effect change” (program) the underlying managed resources.
When implementing intent-based networking, monitoring or visibility into the existing infrastructure become paramount. Information needs to available at all layers to assess and plan the right action. In order to make automation of the process successful, the monitoring or visibility of the process also has to be rightly available.
The industry has embraced open cloud management platforms and DevOps tools to add workflows for automation. But we need to bring this same level of programmability all the way down to switches, routers and the ASICs to ensure consistent flexibility from top to bottom of the data center network stack.
As you bring agility throughout the network stack, you also need to ensure integration with other organizational technology domains such as compute, applications, and operations. This is where the cross-domain workflow comes into play. The network needs to be part of the technology toolchain but also integrated with the overall culture and skillsets of the organization, including people, process and policy.
In order for intent-based infrastructure to be successful, the network itself should have some inherent characteristics that can support a truly intelligent system. If we start from the bottom, the key requirements are shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Infrastructure Designed and Built for Automation
The infrastructure should provide the following capabilities:
Platform programmability via interfaces such as NETCONF or RESTful APIs
Figure 3 also illustrates the great dividends that are paid by combining intent with automation and visibility. Effectively, there is an exponential gain in agility, high availability, and network efficiency.
Call to Action
Brocade products that are relevant to this vision are linked in the article: