Why you should look at Intent Based Networking for your LAN?
Jul 01, 2020

Why you should look at Intent Based Networking for your LAN?

SHRIKANT DANDIN
DIRECTOR, DIGITAL NETWORK SERVICES

Intent Based Networks is a concept where the “Business Intent” is created, translated, executed, measured and validated to achieve a self-healing network. In this process a high level business policy is created which is then translated to operational configurations, these configurations executed through automation, then the network operations are monitored and measured, deviations are analyzed to recommend & execute the corrective action, thus forming a complete Devops cycle in network operations. IBN was a focus more in Data Centers initially, but the same is getting extended to enterprise LAN. But why is IBN becoming more relevant in the future?.

Business needs for agility

The new technology trends – Multi-Cloud, Mobility, Hybrid WAN, IOT and edge computing are having profound impact on networks as these technologies enable data creation everywhere, move data on multiple paths, store data at various locations, scale dynamically, move workload and applications geographically to create a complex and dynamic infrastructure. Compounding this is user mobility, multiple device access and increasing security threats as data moves through internet.

The enterprise LAN in branch offices where the users and end points operate has grown significantly with addition of technology advancements – WiFi6, BLE, 4G/5G, WAN optimizers, software defined edge security, SD-WAN, Cloud-Based LAN solutions and IOT. With these many LAN solution components, and with data in motion, the complexity and dynamism are hard to comprehend and control with manual configuration effort.

To align with the business need for agility, the solution also needs to align through the right visibility, analytics and automation, which is provided by Intent Based Networks.

LAN specific challenges

The dynamism of data store and data traffic path among clouds including hybrid cloud and branch edge is throwing new challenges with branch LAN made to adopt multiple WAN links with internet breakout and distributed security for performance.

The LAN performance is also a key concern as it affects user experience and productivity. The performance issues get bigger in large LAN. Some of the operational challenges in LAN also include:

  • Complexity – Multi-vendor, Multi-technology solutions, Non-standardized devices
  • Speed of provisioning and issue resolution – Complex architectures and configurations, lack of application and traffic visibility within the LAN
  • Performance measurement – LAN user experience / application performance visibility
  • Network Segmentation – Lack of traffic segregation among Enterprise application traffic, compliance, Guest access and IOT. Missing micro-segmentation for risk reduction and secure LAN operations.

While SD-LAN is a technology that addresses some part of these challenges, it operates with a network centric policy. Intent Based Networks is seen as a superset of SD-LAN, working with policies that align to business intent. It enables bridging the gap between IT and Business. IBN changes the way the LAN functions. IBN brings new software defined framework to the LAN which completely changes the way LAN has been managed and operated. IBN converges the Wired and Wireless LAN into one network. It takes all the capability of the SD-LAN and translates the business intent into various policies that can be defined on the SD-LAN and orchestrates the policies to the LAN infrastructure. Once the policies are deployed it continuously monitor the network and ensures the network is functioning as intended by the business.

IBN brings in some of the below capabilities to simplify the LAN,

Policy based network: IBN provides Intent based network where the network will no longer be built based on the network parameters like IP Address, and VLANs but instead will be based on the business intent and will use parameters like type of end users, type of endpoints, the business units, applications, security etc. Policies will be based on the business intent.

Open and Agile Network: IBN provides open and agile network which enables netops to further enhance the network through programmable and api interfaces. It gives you capability to customize and develop more use cases which meets the business requirements.

Visibility and Analytics: It provides deep visibility and analytics that helps in quicker resolution of the issues and helps to carry out changes and align the policies to the business needs. It will provide visibility to ensure the Network is operating as per the intent.

Automated Onboarding: IBN provides automated onboarding of the users and devices onto the network. Since the control and management is abstracted to central location the devices can be added on to the network in a plug and play fashion. It not only automates initial provisioning and configurations of the network but also automates the complete Life cycle of the network operations.

Network Assurance: Most importantly IBN will continuously monitor the network state and ensure the state is maintained. If any change occurs, it automatically remediates the change to ensure the network is running as intended.

Security at Edge: IBN allows you to bring the security right at the edge where the endpoints get connected to the network. This additional layer of security at the edge enables to secure IOT devices which do not have intelligence to protect themselves. All of this is managed through single pane of glass.

IBN converges wired and wireless environment to deliver consistent user performance across wired and wireless network. The policies move with the users within the organization where they move. This simplifies the network by not needing to carry any changes for every IMAC requests. IBN solution also provides complete visibility into the traffic flow using its Analytics Engine built into the solution. It provides visibility into the user and application traffic patterns.

Who should adopt IBN?

While most of the enterprise organizations can adopt IBN however IBN provides more benefits to organizations having large scale networks by simplifying it through centralized management and control. All organizations irrespective of the vertical industry they belong to, when located in large campuses with a mix of wired and wireless network should look for IBN based solutions.

Apart from the size, if customers are looking for segmentation, security of IOT devices and endpoints, mobility and agile network as some of the key requirements then they can look for IBN solution. IBN will be the right solution for large scale universities having huge campuses, Hospitals, Retail, Large manufacturing hubs with OT environment, Power and Utility sectors having huge OT environment, Airports, Smart Cities, Oil & Gas sectors etc. to name few. The list can go on. IBN is the next big thing in the networking industry and can revolutionize the way the networks are built.

Microland smartBranch SD-LAN Services

Microland’s upcoming SmartBranch SD-LAN service offering will address the Software Defined LAN and its superset intent-based networking. Combining SD-LAN (wired and wireless LAN) technology with automation & analytics solutions from Network Assurance Platform along with key performance management tools, smartBranch SD-LAN offering will deliver Intent Based Networking for branch networks. Look out for more updates from us on SD-LAN and IBN offerings.