IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Intent-based networking will "revolutionise the data centre"

By Ashton Young
Wed 24 Oct 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

There are a number of new technologies bursting on the scene with promises to change the way data centers operate.

Apstra chief technology officer Sasha Ratkovic says intent-based networking is one of them as it works to allow companies to run their networks reliably and cost-effectively while offering more agility and control.

The hard problem to achieving that is determining how to compose the complex infrastructure capabilities in order to serve business needs in the presence of constant change in device capabilities and business rules.

“Dreaded ‘brown-field’ environments are a testament to the fact that in complex environments dealing with changes gets progressively more and more difficult until the ability to evolve finally stalls. With Intent-Based Networking, the premise is that knowing the intent and understanding how it is implemented makes dealing with change safer and predictable,” says Ratkovic.

“One set of changes comes from the operator in the form of a business rule change or policy change. Even more challenging ones (as you don’t control them) are changes coming from the infrastructure in terms of operational status changes or failures. So by definition, Intent-Based Networking deals with all phases of network service lifecycle: design, build, deploy and validate, as each of them involve some specification of user’s intent or validation that the intent has been met.”

Ratkovic believes intent-based networking is a foundational technology being used to enable intent-based data center automation to address business transformations like digital overhauls, cloud adoption, mobility proliferation, advanced applications, pervasive IoT, and end-user demands.

“The composition problem mentioned earlier is a consequence of the fact that today’s data centers act as scale-out computers and there is a need to compose this infrastructure consisting of compute, network, and storage. But this is only one dimension of this composition problem,” says Ratkovic.

“Another dimension is how do you incorporate complex business rules and policies? Infrastructure capabilities, as well as mechanisms to consume them, are subject to constant change. And the situation with business rules is even worse, both in terms of the frequency and the complexity of the changes.”

Ratkovic says every time that a change occurs, operators are forced to perform some composition.

“If you take something out, is what remains still acting as a coherent whole? If you add or modify something, is the new composite valid? With a single compute virtualisation node, the problem the operating system must deal with involves partitioning resources as well as dealing with isolation,” says Ratkovic.

“Hypervisor was a vehicle for compute virtualisation. But with the data center acting as a scale-out computer, the distributed operating system first has to perform composition and only then again resource partitioning and isolation. But if you fail at composition due to changes in infrastructure and business rules, you will never even get to consuming your precious and expensive scale-out compute resources. So in some sense Intent-Based Networking is your data center hypervisor.”

Software-defined networking (SDN) is rife around the world among data centers and IT departments, and Ratkovic is confident the same will be true of intent-based networking.

“The earliest incarnations of Intent-Based Networking started 4-5 years ago and the technology advances since then are impressive. Aside from technology it takes our collective response to embrace opportunities presented by technology to make it mainstream,” says Ratkovic.

“We are seeing intent-based data center automation  which is built on intent-based networking, distributed system architecture, and vendor-agnostic overlay being deployed by several marquee customers which is an indication that the shift is happening. The feedback from the early adopters is phenomenal.”

Ratkovic says customers are reveling in the freedom of choice because to stay competitive they need to enable advanced services by composing and leveraging best of breed capabilities across vendors.

“Choice also offers these businesses cost control. Intent-based networking allows them to compose a reliable system out of a disaggregated networking stack. It allows them to deal with their infrastructure by managing it as a fleet (“cattle”) of disaggregated, replaceable commodity components,” says Ratkovic.

“They also have the option to build their masterpiece snowflake out of more expensive, brand name components (“pets”). Once they make a choice, they may want to preserve that capability in the future. You don’t want to be free to make a choice and then be locked in by it. To stay competitive you need to be nimble in the presence of change and evolve with your digital transformation.”

Ratkovic says there are a number of other positive aspects brought in by intent-based networking, which include:

  • Reduces the kind of work tied to running a production services that tends to manual, repetitive, automatable, and devoid of enduring value.
  • By enabling a declarative specification of a desired outcome, it greatly simplifies all phases of a service lifecycle and reduces the chance of human error.
  • Reduces the time to debug and fix problems as it delivers a context rich operational state which allows extraction of knowledge from the raw telemetry, providing actionable context rich anomalies to identify root causes and identify gray failures.

“Given the above excitement that Intent-Based Networking solutions provide and the traction they are getting I am very optimistic about intent-based networking becoming widespread,” says Ratkovic.

And finally, when it comes to how Apstra is looking to blaze a trail in this market, Ratkovic says the company’s solutions are empowering intent-based data centers with intent-based networking, a distributed system architecture, and a vendor-agnostic overlay.

“Our strategy is rooted in building the solid foundation and not cutting corners. The composition problem described earlier is a hard problem to solve and chasing opportunities at the cost of quality is short-sighted strategy, embraced by many and doomed to fail. Our unique funding structure allows us to spend time solving the problems in a manner that produces reliable, testable and maintainable software,” says Ratkovic.

“Our co-founder David Cheriton used to say that when you build a bamboo hut, it happens fast, you get instant gratification but then after the first storm it is gone. On the other hand when you build a skyscraper you first go down for few years with everyone around you wondering what is going on, but once you emerge above the ground level adding floors becomes fast. This is where we are now and it is without a doubt the most exciting and creative time you can imagine!”

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Trading up: It's time to swap core systems for flexible digital applications
This year will see more oranisations planning and commencing high tech renovations that will shake up the way they operate.
Story image
Revenue operations is taking centre stage
As the business world continues to evolve, new demands need to be met to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. 
Story image
Digital Transformation
The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the healthcare industry while overcoming staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns.
Story image
Adyen expands partnership with Afterpay as BNPL payments increase
Adyen has expanded its partnership with AfterPay allowing more of Adyen’s merchants in more countries worldwide to use the BNPL provider.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS launches human-focused responsible innovation initiative
SAS has launched a responsible innovation initiative, furthering its commitment to equity and putting people first.
Story image
Atturra partners with Focus HQ to support Aus organisations
Atturra has executed a partnership agreement with Focus HQ, to resell and support the company's Australian developed SaaS-based portfolio management platform.
Story image
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Public Cloud
Cloud adoption still a work in progress, NetApp finds
NetApp has announced the results of the annual Cloud Infrastructure Report based on a survey of public cloud business and IT decision makers.
Story image
Siemens showcases new automated solutions for data centers
Siemens has implemented new automated solutions and AI in the Baltic region's largest data center, providing insight into the future of data center management.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
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
Data solutions
South Australia state satellite makes significant progress
South Australia’s first state satellite has successfully completed the Critical Design Review (CDR), moving it closer to providing tangible data solutions.
Story image
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Zendesk announces new conversational CRM solutions
“The last few years have made it obvious that digital is the front door, convenience is paramount and relationships are anchored in conversations."
Story image
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Power / Energy
Keysight Technologies introduces new next-gen DPT solution
Keysight Technologies has announced its new next-generation Double-Pulse Tester (DPT) with the PD1550A Advanced Dynamic Power Device Analyser.
Story image
Google and CSIRO use AI to help protect the Great Barrier Reef
Google has partnered with CSIRO in Australia to implement AI solutions that help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS unveils AI experience to improve kids' batting abilities
SAS has created The Batting Lab, an interactive experience using AI, computer vision and IoT analytics to help kids improve their baseball and softball swings.
Story image
Telstra, Google and Accenture launch 5G AR experience for AFL
Telstra, Google and Accenture are developing a new 5G powered augmented reality (AR) experience at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium for the footy season.
Story image
HINDSITE wins Aerospace Xelerated Pitch Challenge with solution to support Boeing
Brisbane-based startup HINDSITE was the winner of the first ever Pitch Challenge organised by Aerospace Xelerated in partnership with Queensland XR Hub. 
Story image
New digital traffic light system to tackle construction defects
Smarter Defects Management launches its PaaS digital system and says it will revolutionise managing defects in the construction industry.
Story image
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Telstra and Silver Trak Digital delivers 5G to the cinemas
Telstra and Silver Trak Digital say they've launched Australia's fastest and most secure delivery of content over 5G for cinemas.
Story image
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
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Voxel hits total funding of $18M following ongoing wins
Since raising its seed round in September, Voxel has grown at pace, by decreasing on-site injuries by upwards of 80% and increasing operational productivity.
Story image
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."
Story image
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Decision Inc. Australia enters partnership with Alteryx
Independent data and analytics consultancy Decision Inc. Australia has partnered with automated analytics company Alteryx, expanding its offering to clients.
Story image
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
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
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Cloudflare launches instant serverless database for dev teams
"Today we’re announcing our first serverless database which we expect will quickly become one of the largest databases in the world."
Story image
Remote Working
IT teams deploy powerful technologies to enable remote work
"We found that IT teams mastered the challenges of remote work last year in large part by employing powerful yet easy-to-use technologies."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Clear Dynamics closes $35M funding round, invests in global growth
The funding is a major milestone and speaks to Clear Dynamics’ vision for AI-enabled ‘composable’ enterprise software, the company states.
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image