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Aspen + Boulder =Intent

Sep 23, 2015

The ONF-sponsored OpenSourceSDN.org community has finalized two new intent-based open source projects, available today.

OSSDN We recently posted a blog asking “Why Open Source?” where we discussed why the time is now to get involved in open source projects. Our ecosystem of open source projects is growing, with the recent release of two intent-based projects – Aspen and Boulder. Now the question isn’t why open source, but why intent?

Intent is a hot topic in the SDN industry. With intent, intelligent software such as an SDN controller, determines how to translate the identified action into an infrastructure-specific instruction that causes the network to behave in the desired manner. It brings compelling ease-of-use and portability benefits to network operators. Intent-based projects are also perfect examples of the benefits of abstraction that SDN provides, as they shift the focus from networking details to distributed network applications. In this model, applications are freed from built-in network infrastructure details. Consequently, they are no longer subject to change every time the network changes. These applications need only convey the intent of what they need from the network, making network programmability a reality for a much larger audience.

So, why intent? Let’s highlight some of the many benefits of intent-based networking:

    • Intent stays the same regardless of a link going down, a server crashing, changing cloud providers, changing switch vendors, upgrading firmware, or any other change to the infrastructure. This frees applications from the underlying network details, simplifying overall application development, testing, and deployment.
    • Intent is not specific to protocols, vendors, media types, or infrastructure providers. Because it is abstracted from changes to the infrastructure, intent-based networking eliminates the impact of such changes. Intent allows what enterprises, service providers, and telecom carriers have been seeking: portability across a range of dissimilar solutions including the SDN controllers.
    • The extensible intent interface is designed to allow disparate services, developed independently, to express their resource requirements in a common language. As a result, all of the services accessible via the intent interface share a common resource allocation and management engine.

The release of Aspen and Boulder builds on ONF’s “intent” to create an ecosystem and architecture that bring open SDN to network operators around the world. We look forward to continuing to build this ecosystem and continuing the collaboration with the global open source community. Please share your comments with us if you plan on leveraging intent-based networking, or, if you are already using it, let us know about the benefits that you have experienced. We’d love to hear from you!

For more information on Aspen and Boulder, please visit http://opensourcesdn.org/ossdn-projects/.

– Bithika Khargharia, director of product and community management of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), member of the ONF Software Leadership Council (SLC), and principal architect of solutions and innovation at Extreme Networks