Internet-Draft Network Working Group March 2024
Chen, et al. Expires 5 September 2024 [Page]
Internet Research Task Force
Intended Status:
D. Chen
China Mobile
K. Yao
China Mobile
C. Yang
Xidian University
X. Mi
Xidian University
Y. Ouyang
Xidian University

Network Management Intent -One of IBN Use Cases


Full life cycle network management will be a key feature of the future communication networks. Meanwhile, the complexity of the network management should be reduced and the network expects to be managed in a fully automated manner with humans out of the loop. In this document, we propose an use case of intent based network management to achieve more flexible , convenient, and efficient network management. In this use case, we propose an architecture and attempt to illustrate the five levels of achieving full autonomous network management.

Requirements Language

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

With the rapid evolution of networks, such as the emergence of the sixth generation (6G), we have entered a new digital era that is ubiquitously connected by highly heterogeneous and dynamic network infrastructure. And various network applications are predicted to appear more in future communication networks. With these complex network scenarios, services, and uncountable degrees of freedom in future communication networks, the complexity of network management will increase drastically. Traditional network management methods are insufficient to keep up with the growing requirements. Firstly, there exists high complexity and difficulty to manage a large amount of infrastructures due to high labor cost, high error probability, low management efficiency. Secondly, traditional network management lacks closed-loop control, which can not find and repair faults in time. To overcome these challenges, some novel network models have been proposed, such as NFV and SDN. However, it still faces many novel challenges:

At the same time, with the exponential growth of network devices, network administrators need to put in tremendous effort to manage the policies that affect the services of these devices. While in recent years the network management methods have been gradually automated, there are still many procedures that must be accomplished under the strict supervision of administrators, resulting in high error probability. Moreover, current network management is at a level too low to entirely eliminate the requirements to customize each solution for a specific device or protocol in use. The emergence of the IBN, as defined in RFC 9315 [RFC9315], has the potential to compensate for the limitations of the current network management methods. The intent is a high-level abstraction of policy, and the IBN is a way to manage the network through intent-driven rather than a low-level configuration. When the user specifies a high-level goal (intent), the network automatically converts that goal into policies and automatically deploys these policies throughout the network.

2. Definitions and Acronyms

IBN: Intent based network

IBNM: Intent based network management

DQN: Deep Q network

3. Overview

Driven by the above requirements and challenges, the intent based network management (IBNM) is proposed. IBNM aims to transition from a fully static manual network management to a fully dynamic autonomous intent based network management. In IBNM, users express their service requirements or goals in a declarative manner without paying attention to how the network achieves them.

The architecture is shown as Fig 1, which includes the application layer, the intent-enabled layer and the infrastructure layer. The application layer collects intents from various users and applications, and provides a number of programmable network management services. The intent-enabled layer consists of the intent translation module, intelligent policy mapping module, and intent guarantee module, whose functions are to build a bridge between the application layer and the infrastructure layer. Heterogeneous physical devices are deployed in the infrastructure layer. This layer can execute management instructions from the intent-enabled layer and upload underlying network situation information to the intent-enabled layer. Information interaction between different layers is done through different interfaces, such as the northbound and southbound interfaces.

  |          Application   Layer           |
Intent Ingestion|         | Northbound Interface
  |             |      Intent-enabled Layer|
  | +-----------+-------+  +-------------+ |
  | |           |       |  |             | |
  | |  +--------v----+  |  |             | |
  | |  | Translation |  |  |             | |
  | |  +-------------+  |  |             | |
  | |                   |  | Intelligent | |
  | |  +-------------+  |  |             | |
  | |  | Verification|  |  |  Guarantee  | |
  | |  +-------------+  |  |             | |
  | |Intent Translation |  |    Module   | |
  | |      Module       |  |             | |
  | +-------------------+  |             | |
  |                        |             | |
  | +-------------------+  |             | |
  | |Intelligent Policy |  |             | |
  | |  Mapping Module   |  |             | |
  | +-------------------+  +-------------+ |
  |                                        |
                       |  Southbound Interface
  |         Infrastructure Layer           |
Figure 1: The Architecture of IBNM

Among these layers, the intent-enabled layer is the core of this network management architecture. First, the intent translation module translates declarative intent (expressed in the form of natural language) into the network intent that can be recognized by the system (specific ). There may be an intent conflict problem when multiple intents are input simultaneously. Thus, the intent translation module executes intent verification and intent conflict resolution before the intent is issued (measurable). Second, the intelligent policy mapping module provides customized policies (achievable) for specific intents according to various requirements and evaluates the current policy by rewarding values. After that, in order to complete the policy configuration within the time-bound, the intent guarantee module is needed to execute feature extraction and location on the collected alarm information. Then the fault information is fed back to the intelligent policy mapping module.

Based on the above design, on one hand, this architecture can achieve full lifecycle automated network management with humans out of the loop. On the other hand, it converts service requirements (intent) into network policies and provides self-adapted customized service with a full lifecycle verification. The functions of each module in intent-enabled layer are described below.

4. levels of Intent-based Network Management

The complexity of the future communication network dictates that achieving IBNM is a long-term goal, which needs to be completed step by step. Based on the autonomous network levels[Autonomous-Networks] , we gives the definition of the levels of IBNM as five levels: manual network management (Level 0), intent assistance network management (Level 1), partial autonomous IBNM (Level 2), high autonomous IBNM (Level 3), and full autonomous IBNM (Level 4). IBNM transforms the traditional fully static network into a fully dynamic network, and details are as follows:

5. Advantages

The advantages of the intent based network management include:

6. Concrete Example: Intent based Dynamic Service Function Chain

In order to evaluate the performance of the proposed IBNM architecture, we use the intent-based dynamic service function chain (SFC) as an example to solve the network management challenges (e.g., cross-domain orchestration and service functions are tightly coupled with the underlying equipment). At the same time, we developed an Openstack-based IBNM platform. The system demonstration implements the whole process from intent input to intent translation to intent policy generation to intent deployment, and the details are as follows.

The user input cross-domain link-building requests (intent) in natural language at the web-page: Transfer a common-level video service from user A in Beijing to user B in Nanjing while constraining the execution time of the intent. The intent translation module outputs a conflict-free translation result, which indicates that the external input and the translation platform have been communicated. The translation results are intent tuples, which are displayed on the front-end interface in the form of name-value pairs. After the intent translation module, the translation results will be converted to JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and transmitted to the intelligent policy mapping module. The intelligent policy mapping module divides the JSON request into an SFC: service function 1 (network address translation) service function 2 (firewall), and constructs the SFC request (name, tenant_id, description, service requirements, etc.). Then query whether there is an atomic policy combination that satisfies the current intent requirements in the policy repository. Following that, SFC is constructed based on the SFC interface, which is extended by Neutron. OpenStack schedules network resources, constructs sub-nets and ports, and generates two-dimensional space topology. Meanwhile, during the SFC construction process, the intent guarantee module monitors and manages network resource utilization as well as network failures in real time. Overall, IBNM achieves the decoupling of service application and network, and cross-domain network orchestration, while reducing the complexity of network management.

7. Security Considerations


8. IANA Considerations

This document has no requests to IANA.

9. Normative References

Richard, A. Richard., "Autonomous Networks: Empowering Digital Transformation for Telecoms Industry. TM Forum, Parsippany, New Jersey, White Paper, 2019.", .
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Clemm, A., Ciavaglia, L., Granville, L. Z., and J. Tantsura, "Intent-Based Networking - Concepts and Definitions", RFC 9315, DOI 10.17487/RFC9315, , <>.

Authors' Addresses

Danyang Chen
China Mobile
Kehan Yao
China Mobile
Chungang Yang
Xidian University
Xinru Mi
Xidian University
Ying Ouyang
Xidian University