DataCenterNews Asia logo
Specialist data center news for Asia
Story image

Data centre heavyweights debate ‘hottest automation topic of 2018’

By Ashton Young
Wed 1 Aug 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It sounds like magic.

Tell your data center network your desired operational parameters. Management software understands your intent, and automatically configures the network – and also monitors its real-time performance.

The management software then uses telemetry to see if operations ever fail to meet your stated intent, and if that happens, makes real-time adjustments to fix the problem.

Magic? No, intent-based software, easily the most talked-about trend in networking today. Intent-based networking systems (IBNS) are being used today to manage not only large-scale and hyperscale data centers, but also cloud computing centres and even telecommunications networks owned by global carriers.

IBNS is fast, sophisticated, cost-effective, and is unleashing the potential to maximise utilisation of data center hardware, infrastructure, and staffing.

According to IDC network infrastructure senior research analyst Brandon Butler, IBNS can be summarised as implementing advanced levels of automation within a network. Butler says that intent-based systems have several fundamental components:

“To enable intent-based networking, you need to have visibility into what’s happening in your network,” says Butler.

“And you need to be able to have policy-based automation. This is being able to tell the network what you want it to do, and then have the network actually go and do it for you.”

And Butler says there’s also a third part.

“The third critical piece of intent-based networking is around verifying that the automation that you’ve asked the network to do has actually been done correctly. When you put all those together, you get intent-based networking, and it’s really the idea of being able to implement advanced levels of automation into your network,” says Butler.

What’s the payoff? There are many benefits to implementing IBNS-based management on a large network, says Dell EMC Networking and Solutions general manager and senior vice president Tom Burns. Top of mind: Reduced operating expenses.

“We have several customers who have seen tremendous OpEx savings with intent-based networking,” Burns says.

“When you have OpEx savings in the IT department, you can reinvest that into new services or applications, which enable your employees, your partners, to work much more effectively, and with more capability, agility, and so that obviously also drives the top line, because it’s creating competitive advantage.”

Those OpEx savings come from vastly reduced complexity through standardisation, Burns adds.

“Intent-based networking makes it much easier to run your platform, whether it’s consistent tools, automation configuration, having the network do what you want it to do,” says Burns.

“It does that that in a cost-effective fashion, rather than in the traditional, ‘I’ve got 100 protocols, or 1,000 protocols, I’ve got proprietary hardware, I need specialists.’ You shouldn’t need specialists to run the platform to enable applications.”

IDC’s Butler agrees.

“The business benefits of intent-based networking are really all about being able to free up your IT teams to be able to implement advanced levels of automation in your network. When you are able to automate more tasks in your network, it frees up your IT team to be able to do things that are of higher business value for the organisation.”

Cisco Enterprise Networking product management senior vice president Sachin Gupta gives a concrete example of Cisco’s IBNS in action at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital.

“What they're trying to do is translate their business intent that says doctors should have access to medical records, heart-rate monitors should have access to administration systems, patients should have access to the internet and to their guest services and restrict all other access, based on a whitelist. At the same time, video conferencing, video applications should get a high priority,” says Gupta.

“They want to make sure that the systems that we offer can translate that intent, can activate it on all the underlying infrastructure of any kind - physical or virtual - and then assure that it's being delivered as designed… At the same time, these customers want that infrastructure to detect threats, to detect malware in encrypted traffic without decrypting it.”

Automation drives scale

Intent-based networking has significant implications for scalability — and can help enterprises build out massive data centers to support emerging applications, such as for the Internet of Things.

“Intent-based networking enables powerful automation of your operations, which is critical to scale the infrastructure that is required for your business,’ explains Apstra CEO and founder Mansour Karam.

Mellanox Technologies marketing vice president Kevin Deierling agrees.

“When you start to do scalability with intent-based networking, you get a huge advantage, because instead of managing each individual box, you manage the entire cluster as a system,” says Deierling.

“IBNS is Software-Defined Networks, but it’s at a higher level now. It’s at an intent level. If you’re doing something that’s distribution for video, and latency is really important, and quality of service, you can express that as an intent. Now, as you scale out and you grow, that intent stays intact.”

Will IBNS kill proprietary networks?

Openness is an important part of intent-based networking, insists IDC’s Butler.

“If you think about the ability to automate the network, the network needs to be able to have integration points at various parts of the business, so it needs to be able to accept the intent of what the operator wants, what you want the network to do, but it also needs to be able to ingest information from applications that are running on the network so that they can express their intent,” says Butler.

That’s why, he says, intent-based networking systems have to be open to be able to allow integrations into the devices that the network is going to be managing, into applications that are going to be running on the network, and so openness is really a critical piece of intent-based networking.

That’s the same message of openness communicated by Apstra’s Karam.

“Intent-based networking provides an opportunity for openness like never before. The reason is because the way you’re interfacing with your infrastructure is by describing what you want, not [by describing] the specifics of how devices are configured. Therefore, you have an opportunity to leverage devices from multiple vendors,” Karam says.

Dell EMC’s Burns shares these sentiments.

“The area of disaggregation, the area of intent-based networking, is going to give a lot more flexibility and capability to manage scalability but in a much easier fashion than the traditional proprietary approach,” Burns says.

Cisco the long time leader in proprietary networks is not unaware of this radical shift. Sachin Gupta says that one of the key questions is customers asking about retraining for this new world of intent-based, API driven, software layer driven networking.

“We've made a huge investment in developer.cisco.com. We call it the DevNet programme. We've been at it for a few years now where we have 500,000 people on that, the majority of whom are actually network engineers… We're also bringing in new types of people who are coding on top of the networks, the pure software developers and application developers who can now interface with the network in a very different way.”

Intent in the real world

Driven by technology companies like Apstra, and embraced by infrastructure players like Dell EMC and Mellanox, intent isn’t magic: It’s real. IBNS is succeeding with customers today, but that doesn’t mean that intent has gone mainstream, says Dell EMC’s Burns.

“The whole concept around intent-based networking is in its very early stages,” Burns says.

“It is going to evolve, just like SDN has evolved from three to five years ago to where it’s moving today.”

Cisco’s Sachin Gupta emphasises the growing role of advanced data analytics.

“Our threat intelligence in the cloud sees 20 billion threats a day, many more threats a day than Google searches in a day, that provides a dataset for us to be able to identify and react to threats much, much, much quickly than anybody else in the industry,” says Gupta.

“The other way is much more predictive. A lot of our customers are saying that if you know what the wireless association times are and the experiences across enterprise networks globally and what new drivers and devices could be causing issues and what kinds of problems are emerging, how can you apply richer, more advanced analytics capabilities to be more predictive in helping identify where a failure could occur?”

In this fast evolving landscape, Burns advocates open-ness.

“Don’t lock yourself in to something for the next three to five to seven years. Look at the evolvement and the changes in the technology that’s going to allow intent-based networking to happen, and introduce those as they make sense, which you can’t do in a proprietary environment,” Burns says.

“You have to have an open environment to introduce new third-party applications, or software, or potential applications or appliances.”

Mellanox’s Deierling sees applications of IBNS in tuning networks for specific applications and workloads.

“Just like we have networking solutions that are tailored towards specific workloads — we have an Ethernet storage fabric at Mellanox — you’ll see intent-based networking start to contemplate workload-specific applications,” says Deierling.

“You’ll have video, you’ll have machine learning, you’ll have artificial intelligence, you’ll have deep learning. Each of those will have a different set of recipes associated with that. You’ll actually do intent-based networking that’s specific to those workloads.”

Karam from Apstra agrees.

“Intent-based networking is very real. There are production deployments out there across enterprises, service providers, and web scale. We pioneered it, but then since then, other large industry leaders in networking have embraced it as well. So, it’s here to stay,” Karam concludes.

Watch the full video discussion here.

Article by NetEvents editor Lionel Snell

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Migration
SNP unveils next generation of CrystalBridge software platform
Data is a key pillar of every customer-centric organisation, as it relies on agile decisions to become increasingly sustainable and intelligent.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
Story image
Sustainability
Daikin and SP Group to build new energy efficient district cooling system
The project, set to be complete by 2025, will create a system with a cooling capacity of up to 36,000 refrigerant tonnes (RT). 
Story image
Cloud
Talend introduces new data health solutions for businesses
Talend has announced its latest version of Talend Data Fabric, with the release of Talend Trust Score enabling data teams to establish a foundation for data health.
Story image
Sustainability
RDA and MVGX partner for sustainable data center development
Red Dot Analytics (RDA) and MetaVerse Green Exchange (MVGX) have entered a strategic partnership to make Singapore's data center development and operations more sustainable.
Story image
Robotic Process Automation / RPA
Micro Focus unveils Data Center Automation for SaaS delivery
MicroFocus has released Data Center Automation (DCA) for software-as-a-service (SaaS) delivery, offering more cost-effective vulnerability risk and IT compliance management.
Story image
Infrastructure
New Uptime analysis highlights worsening downtime costs and consequences
New data from Uptime Institute has found that downtime costs and consequences are worsening as those involved in data infrastructure fail to find ways to curb outages.
Story image
Infrastructure
SolarWinds IT Trends Report highlights increased cloud complexity for businesses
SolarWinds' new IT Trends report has signalled a significant shift in the way businesses are dealing with hybrid cloud and infrastructure.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Databricks announces new offering for Unity Catalog
Databricks has significantly expanded data governance capabilities on the lakehouse by unveiling data lineage for Unity Catalog.
Story image
Sydney
Equinix and PGIM Real Estate open data centre in Sydney
Equinix and PGIM Real Estate, the real estate investment and financing arm of PGIM, have announced the first xScale data centre in Sydney, named SY9x.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Secureworks researches new threat to Elasticsearch databases
Researchers from Secureworks' Counter Threat Unit have identified indexes of multiple internet-facing Elasticsearch databases replaced with a ransom note.
Story image
Sustainability
Huawei unveils next-generation sustainable data centers
Huawei says its next-generation data centers will be powered by PowerPOD 3.0, which reduces the footprint by 40% and cuts the energy consumption by 70%.
Story image
Sustainability
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Colocation
Digital Edge chooses Nortek’s StatePoint for new data center
Digital Edge will use Nortek's StatePoint liquid cooling technology in its new data center, the first commercial colocation operator in Asia to do so.
Story image
Sustainability
Evolution Data Centres reveals target of 20 tonnes of CO2 per GWh
Evolution Data Centres launches their new Sustainable Data Centre Charter, which includes targets like only 20 tonnes of carbon emissions per GWh by 2030.
Story image
Broadband
Singapore found to have the speediest internet rates in the world
New research from BanklessTimes has shown that Singapore has the highest recorded median internet speed in the world at 207.61 MBPS.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Qualtrics goes live on AWS Cloud Infrastructure in Japan
Organisations across Japan will now be able to access the Qualtrics XM/OS platform locally via data centre in the AWS Asia Pacific (Tokyo) region.
Story image
Microsoft
SAS Viya on Microsoft Azure to deliver 204% return - study
The Forrester Total Economic Impact study finds SAS Viya on Microsoft Azure brings a 204% return on investment over three years.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Kaspersky opens three new centers to boost data management
Cybersecurity company Kaspersky has opened three new Transparency Centers, one in Japan, the second in Singapore and the third in the United States.
Story image
Cloud
QuSecure partners with DataBridge Sites to showcase platform
QuSecure has partnered with DataBridge Sites to showcase its Quantum-as-a-Service (QaaS) orchestration platform, QuProtect.
Story image
Sustainability
AirTrunk boosts Japan presence with West Tokyo data center
AirTrunk is planning to build TOK2, a new hyperscale data center in Japan which will strengthen the company’s presence in the country.
Story image
Data Science
Neo4j announces service delivery alliance with Deloitte
Neo4j has announced a service delivery alliance with Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia for a range of services to customers within the region.
Story image
Cloud
Cisco Live showcases new offerings in its first hybrid event
Cisco Live 2022 has seen Cisco executives and customers take the stage to present a range of discussions in the company’s first-ever hybrid event.
Story image
Expansion
Colt Technology expands into South Korea data center market
Colt Technology Services has expanded its network into the South Korean market, offering the country’s businesses cost-effective, low latency connectivity.
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Infrastructure
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure expands distributed cloud services
“Distributed cloud is the next evolution of cloud computing, and provides customers with more flexibility and control in how they deploy cloud resources."
Story image
Digital Transformation
The Huawei APAC conference kicks off with digital transformation
More than 1500 people from across APAC have gathered for the Huawei APAC Digital Innovation Congress to explore the future of digital innovation.
Story image
Cloud
Boomi surpasses 20,000 customers. Sets record for the iPaaS space
Boomi has announced it has surpassed the 20,000 customer mark, setting the record for the largest customer base among iPaaS vendors.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft, Cloudian partnership offers data center flexibility
Cloudian’s HyperStore object storage platform is now integrated and validated to work with Microsoft SQ Server 2022, offering more flexible and scalable data centers.
Story image
CASB
Juniper expands SASE offering with data loss prevention capabilities
Juniper has announced the expansion of its SASE offering with the addition of cloud access security broker (CASB) and data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities.
Story image
Sustainability
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
Sustainability
Intel unveils new investments for data center sustainability
Intel has announced two new investments, continuing its efforts to create more sustainable data center technology.
Story image
Infosys
Preparing for the digital decade with the right workforce strategies
For a decade that started under the pall of the pandemic, the 2020s is poised to end with a bang with the digital economy swelling to a high across the world.
Story image
Sisense
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Partnerships
Thailand announces launch of the Thailand 5G Alliance
It will promote collaboration between the public and private sector, through companies such as Huawei, to commercially drive Thailand's 5G development.
Story image
Infrastructure
Global investment in data centers more than doubled in 2021
DLA Piper's latest global survey finds the total investment in data center infrastructure worldwide rose from USD $24.4 billion in 2020 to USD $53.8 billion in 2021.
Story image
Cloud
SnapLogic improves Intelligent Integration Platform
SnapLogic has released new features and improvements to its Intelligent Integration Platform, which will allow IT, data and business teams to make select processes faster and more straightforward.
Story image
Healthcare
SnapLogic launches Accelerator for Amazon HealthLake
SnapLogic has launched Accelerator to allow healthcare and life sciences organisations to turn raw data into healthcare-related insights and actions.
Story image
Vietnam
Viettel IDC deploys Cloudian Hyperstore object storage for enhanced cloud solutions
Cloudian has announced that its Hyperstore object storage has been deployed by Vietnam telco Viettel IDC, citing the technology’s flexibility, multi-tenancy and ransomware protection as significant advantages.
Story image
Cloud
Vertiv introduces line of redundant power transfer switches
Vertiv has introduced Vertiv Geist Rack Transfer Switch (RTS), a new line of transfer switches that provides redundant power to single-corded devices.
Story image
Sustainability
SoftIron named global leader for efficient DC infrastructure solutions
SoftIron has been named a global leader for supplying energy-efficient data infrastructure solutions for core-to-edge data centers after an assessment by Earth Capital Ltd.
Story image
Cloud
Cloudflare outage in 19 data centers worldwide due to own error
Cloudflare says its outage for 19 of its data centers yesterday was because of a change in a long-running project to increase resilience in its busiest locations.