Enterprise Network Automation

Enterprise Network Automation Edges Closer to Reality at MWC

MWC may be a mobile-first show. But make no mistake – there’s also plenty on display for IT managers looking for ways to improve their enterprise networks’ reliability, scalability and security.

Enterprise Network Automation Edges Closer to Reality at MWC

In particular, expect to see signs across the show floor of a shift toward intent-based networking. If you’re not familiar, intent-based networking is an objective-oriented approach with AI-fueled tools to greatly enhance network operators’ ability to plan and implement their networks. Truly automated network setup and maintenance still may be a few years down the road. In the meantime, though, intent-based networking today offers speedy, low-cost execution, higher reliability and quicker fixes.

Cisco, which has been a vocal proponent of intent-based networking, has called it out as a top technology in its 2020 Global Networking Trends Report. At the center of Cisco’s intent-based networking strategy is its DNA Center management console. That said, the industry leader has been spreading the capability across tools for both its multi-cloud and on-premises platforms.

In addition to Cisco, other top-tier equipment vendors embracing intent-based networking include Dell, Juniper Networks, Huawei and Nokia.

For intent-based networking to really take hold, however, it will require tools compatible from multiple vendors’ hardware and operating systems. A few independent startups have cropped up to fill the void. Like Forward Networks, for example. Forward Networks builds a mathematical twin of customers’ networks that serves as a cross-platform verification tool to help take the guesswork out of planning, troubleshooting and management. The company’s Forward Enterprise platform includes models for thousands of switches, routers, firewalls and other network equipment from dozens of vendors.

Late last year, Forward Networks incorporated its Network Query Engine into the Forward Enterprise platform to help operators slash the time it takes to write and maintain operational checks. And last month, the company announced it is supporting Azure as well as Amazon Web Services, for multi-cloud support.

One day, network operation will be fully automated, with very little intervention required from IT professionals. In the meantime, intent-based networking is pushing the state of the art demonstrably closer to that ultimate goal. IT managers who aren’t yet on board should make that a priority for their MWC fact-finding activities.

Mike Feibus, who is a judge for the annual GSMA Global Mobile Awards, is an industry analyst and columnist based in Scottsdale, USA. Learn more HERE.

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