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Intent-Driven Networks - The New Hot Datacentre Tech

There is always something new on horizon when it comes to data centres. One of the latest technologies to emerge is Intent-Driven Networks. Never heard of it? Read on.

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Intelligence is the next holy grail of the datacentre. It is also the solution to the extreme challenges the modern network architect faces. The ability to understand everything that goes on within an environment, and then design and manage a network that can fully meet the needs of the enterprise, is reaching the point where it’s too complex for even a well-resourced team of engineers to achieve with certainty.

The problem has become critical enough that without investing in intelligence in the datacentre, many businesses will face an increase in unplanned outages and expensive troubleshooting processes. Happily, there is a solution to this technological headache: Intent-Driven Networks. While the overall concept is new, Huawei’s Intent-Driven Network for CloudFabric Cloud Data Center Networking Solution is already available and handling some of the largest datacentre workloads.

What is an Intent-Driven Network?

What makes Intent-Driven Networks innovative is the machine learning algorithms underpinning them. Machine learning has finally reached the point where it can help to understand how a network is being used.  An artificial intelligence (AI) can then be part of the process to devise the right configuration for the network to achieve maximise availability and redundancy.

The real point of difference for Intent-Driven Networks is its ability to monitor, identify, and respond to changing network conditions in real time.

Gartner defines Intent-Driven Networks as:

  1. Taking policy as input from end users and converting it to the necessary configuration required in the network, and then proving the correctness of the resulting configuration.
  2. Configuring, orchestrating and automating changes across heterogeneous network infrastructures, while being agnostic to network architectures and device types.
  3. Working with infrastructure via multiple mechanisms such as Secure Shell (SSH), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Network Configuration (NETCONF)/Yet Another Next Generation (YANG) and APIs.
  4. Pulling real-time network status for systems under its administrative control via multiple mechanisms, while being protocol- and transport-agnostic. It continuously validates (in real time) that the intent of the system is being met and can take corrective actions (such as adding/removing capacity or notifying) when intent is not met (or prevent changes from occurring).

The feature set of an Intent-Driven Network is particularly valuable to organisations that want to implement advanced technology features in the IT environment, including automatic network configuration, predictive analysis and other AI features.

 Huawei brings Intent-Driven Networking to the datacentre

At CeBIT 2018, Huawei launched its Intent-Driven Network for CloudFabric Cloud Data Center Networking Solution. Huawei Data Centre Network Domain general manager, Leon Wang, said at the time: “Intelligent connectivity is the core of enterprise digital platforms. Our new Intent-Driven Networking for CloudFabric Solution is driven by users’ business logic and service strategy to build an intelligent platform that connects business intent to the network architecture, better enabling digital transformation.”

Key features of Huawei’s Intent-Driven Network for CloudFabric solution include:

  • Intent-driven network automation: A key benefit of Intent-Driven Networking is automation. Bringing it to the datacentre will be an immense help to managers. In the Intent-Driven Network for CloudFabric, the Agile Controller can automatically complete network designs based on a businesses’ service intent, and be scaled up to 100,000 servers.
  • Predictive analysis: Being able to detect issues early is critical when running a datacentre. The Intent-Driven Network for CloudFabric includes FabricInsight analyser which establishes expected network behaviour models based on analytics and machine learning, and then continuously verifies the network status against that behaviour model. This way, an anomaly can be detected within seconds, allowing managers to quickly resolve issues.
  • Futureproof: The Intent-Driven Network for CloudFabric solution will fully support evolution over the next 10 years thanks to the CE12800 core switch, which supports 36 x 400G line cards. This all but eliminates bandwidth bottlenecks.

The Huawei CloudFabric cloud data centre networking solution has been well received by customers. Huawei currently services more than 2800 data centres and has the third largest share of the global data centre market (and the largest in China). This includes some massive applications. For example, Huawei powers the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) with 322 CE12800 switches – the largest private cloud datacentre in Asia-Pacific.

Such businesses will benefit most from the automation at the heart of Intent-Driven Networks. That automation will drive even greater efficiency and intelligence in CloudFabric deployments by helping network engineers keep the data centre operational and cutting the cost of downtime.

By 2025, 77 percent of the world’s population is expected to have Internet access. With 100 billion connection points, the only solution to maintaining integrity of networks will be to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) which is where Intent-Driven Networks come in.

"The Intent-Driven Network solution will usher in a new era of network evolution. It will be extensively used in both the enterprise and carrier sectors. The march toward autonomous networks will help us embrace the intelligent era,” Huawei president of Network Product Line, Kevin Hu, said.

As one of the global leaders in R&D, Huawei has a wide range of technology solutions to benefit enterprise and government alike. Click here for more information on the full suite of services.

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