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What does the Intent Framework do in the ONOS SDN platform?

Our SDN expert looks at how the ONOS SDN platform uses an Intent Framework to let apps make their networking needs known to the controller using policy-based management.

The Open Network Operating System (ONOS) SDN operating system has a component, or subsystem, called Intent Framework. So, what exactly does the Intent Framework do for service providers using the SDN operating system? As part of intent-based networking, it allows applications to make their network needs known through policy-based management. Simply put, when the application says it needs something, the controller makes it happen. This means intents are policy-based directives.

With the ONOS SDN Intent Framework, if the application needs extra bandwidth or a primary channel, the controller takes this information and makes the necessary configuration changes on the devices in question. This ability is a direct result of the focus on intent-based networking that has been one of the driving factors behind SDN.

The idea of intent-based networking is to tell the network what you need and let the controller sort it out. Building policies determines the direct actions needed, and you can sit back and relax while the controller does the heavy lifting.

The ONOS SDN platform took this one step further, allowing the application itself to make its intent known. This intent is treated as an object, comprised of things like the network resource, constraints, criteria and instructions.

Once the controller receives the intent, it is assigned a unique IntentID, as well as being tagged with the ApplicationID of the application that sent it. From here, the intent moves through to the compilation phase to process the request. This compilation process features both transitional and parking states while decisions are made by the controller on how to best implement the changes, or even if the changes can be made, based on the intent request.

After the compilation phase, things move into the installing phase, then end with an installed state. If the changes can't be made, they are moved into a failed state. Through these processes, the configuration of the network is automated, thereby reducing the man-hours needed to maintain a highly functional network.

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This was last published in April 2016

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