Intent-Driven Networking with Apstra at Networking Field Day 13

In a couple weeks I’ll be headed to sunny San Jose for Networking Field Day 13. If you’re not familiar with Networking Field Day and other Field Day events, check out their website, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and LinkedIn page. Tech Field Day does a great job bringing technology influencers, bloggers, and craft beer enthusiasts together with some of the biggest and newest names in the tech industry.

I’m particularly interested in Apstra’s presentation on Thursday afternoon. I recently wrote an article about intent-driven networking, something of particular interest to me, so I’m really interested to hear what they have to say about their platform, the Apstra Operating System, or AOS.

Intent-driven networking is concerned with telling the network what you want it to do rather than how to configure services device by device. This is another level of network programmability but with more intelligence than simply device provisioning. Apstra boasts the ability to eliminate many of the repetitive configuration tasks common among various networking operating systems by providing programming to automate intent expressions made by a network engineer. AOS is then vendor agnostic and focused on the end-to-end network service rather than micro-configurations.

Apstra explains that AOS is not opinionated, or in other words, network engineers can still insert their intelligence into design and configuration. I’m very interested to hear more about their distributed intelligence model using agents on network devices interacting with a logically unified data repository. That sounds pretty cool, and I’d like to know more about how specifically the network can adjust itself during production without human intervention. They also seem to be completely data center focused, which is fine, but I am curious to hear about their plans for campus, WAN, and firewall implementations.

I agree with Ethan Banks who in a Packet Pushers podcast with Apstra said that intent-driven networking is sort of what we all thought SDN was going to be. This is why I also think we should all pay attention to what Apstra and other similar companies are doing in this space.

I’m a fan of Star Trek, and I love how Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge tells the U.S.S. Enterprise computers what to do with infrastructure pathways, and the computer just does it. I’m really interested to see where intent-driven networking takes us in the coming years.

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