infoTECH Feature

June 25, 2020

With the Best of Intentions: Intent-Based Networking Can Improve Our Response to the COVID-19 Disruptions to Business

Necessity is often the mother of invention, and when it comes to addressing the unprecedented challenges associated with a new way of working in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, intention combined with invention is driving innovation, including within Apstra Networks.

At the NetEvents [email protected] virtual international media event earlier this month, a panel of several senior specialists came together virtually with top industry analysts and media professionals to exchange ideas about the networking and technology sectors’ business outlook during this difficult time.

During a panel chaired by Jeremiah Caron, Global Head of Research & Analysis, Technology Group, GlobalData, co-founder of Apstra Networks, Mansour Karam and a pioneer of Intent-Based Networking spoke about the new importance of secure, reliable, distributed networking as more people are being forced to work from home.

“While certainly some investments may be on pause, we’re finding that businesses are seeking out ways to control costs while they are also putting in place new ways to connect teams, applications, and cloud services to adapt to what is happening,” Karam said. “COVID-19 is impacting technology investments in positive ways when it comes to solutions that lead to better ROI from their data centers, and other existing infrastructure investments.”

Karam explained that, in this pandemic, “for the first time we, we really see this networking in action and really saving us by allowing people to work safely from home, protecting their families and communities, while being able to be 100% productive and even more productive working from home. This is all due to networking, and it is a quite remarkable feat. Now that we've proven this and passed the test, I predict the effects are going to be lasting.”

Apstra’s has released their first Intent-Based Networking for Dummies Book providing a roadmap for companies developing an intent-based networking architectural framework, empowering organizations to transform all aspects of the network, written by Jeff Doyle.

“Apstra firmly believes that innovation goes hand in hand with flexibility and simplicity,” Karam said, “which inspired us to design and deliver software that uses Intent-Based Networking to simplify data center network management dramatically — automating the build, operations, troubleshooting, and security of data center networks.”

When asked about the role of automation and assurance, enhanced with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), Karam said, “I think that there is a role for those technologies but in the end, when you're operating a network, I think the most important thing is predictable performance. One could argue that the goal of engineering is predictable performance. As a metaphor, if you operate an airplane, and it works nine out of 10 times but you know one out of 10 times crashes it's not a great plane. Nobody will fly on that plane. We need to have deterministic performance and there is a lot of knowledge that we already have in our infrastructure which can be used to deliver this deterministic performance.”

Asked about the future of 5G and WiFi (News - Alert), Karam explained, “When I think of 5G I think increased bandwidth. In manufacturing there will be so many IoT applications where you're going to be collecting a lot of data and bringing it to data centers for processing, but for that to work data centers need to be closer to the edge to support low-latency automated systems and remote control systems. More connected things, more autonomous systems, and more digital transformation in general will continue to drive innovation in the business applications themselves, and deterministic networks will fundamental to orchestrating all of this.”

Karam said we are at a moment in time none of us could have anticipated, and that now customers are truly driving the need for network transformation. “How does an organization in today's world, with a pandemic like this one, survive without being digitally transformed? Gartner (News - Alert) has had famously said that you are three times more likely to fail in your digital transformation initiative if you do not transform your network. This is even more true today.  Secure, reliable and fast enterprise networks are so critical; everyone is investing there.”

The panel, which included, John Apostolopoulos, VP & CTO for Enterprise Networking Business, Cisco; Mansour Karam, President & Founder, Apstra; Bob Friday, CTO, Juniper Networks (and co-founder of Mist, a Juniper Company); and Kevin Deierling (News - Alert), SVP Marketing, Networking, NVIDIA exchanged views and explored the hottest technologies and trends which included the new developments in wireless technology for Enterprise and Edge; the advances being made in Cloud by optimizing the application experience; the latest developments on Intelligent Network Automation (News - Alert) through Intent-Based Networking (IBN) enabling increased automation and analysis across all elements of the network, and more.


Juhi Fadia is an engineer, analyst, researcher and writer covering advanced and emerging technologies.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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