Intent-based Automation

Intent in autonomous networks is the ability to enable a level of autonomy where the system can adapt its behavior and generate a solution instead of just following human-defined recipes

Automation intent underpins evolutionary progress

The idea of intent-based networking has been kicking around telecoms since at least 2017, but serious industry conversations about intent as a driver of telecoms operations automation are only now progressing. Operators recognize that intent and trying to understand and formally capture what the customer or network planner wants, is a bigger challenge than determining whether or not an intent can be handled and, if so, acting upon it.

Intent's 'role' is to communicate requirements 

The role of intent is to communicate requirements, goals, constraints, and preferences to an autonomous system. This knowledge enables the system to evaluate the state of the controlled infrastructure and the utility of actions. It enables a level of autonomy where the system can adapt its behavior and generate new solutions instead of just following human-defined recipes and policies.

‘Intent’ has moved on from just a concept

The idea of intent-based networking is beginning to gain traction with communications service providers (CSPs). Read our report, Intent in Autonomous networks, to understand intent in the context of telecoms networking and operations automation and why it is important.

Also read TM Forum’s fourth Autonomous Networks (AN) whitepaper, Empowering digital transformation – from strategy to implementation. This is the third AN whitepaper where over 50 members have contributed to show the unprecedented development in the industry. CSPs are now implementing autonomy into their networks and determining strategies for reaching their target AN level by 2025. 'Intent' has also gone from a concept to something which the industry can now use as part of AN deployments.

TM Forum members, uniting the industry on a single vision

TM Forum's Autonomous Networking Project (ANP) defines intent in automomous networks as:

 “The formal specification of all expectations including requirements, goals and constraints given to a technical system.”

TM Forum members continue to focus research and development on improving industry-targeted collatoral around the implementation of intent-based automation.

6 key characteristics required for intent-based automation

TM Forum considers these simple yet powerful concepts are explicit in or implied by the intent definition:

Explore in-depth collateral from TM Forum

 (Note: most of these documents are for members only)

Intent in Autonomous Networks [IG1253]

The purpose of IG1253 is to document and define intent-driven operation according to the work in the Autonomous Networks project. This includes a definition of intent as well as the role of intent in of autonomous operation and the operational principles it implies.

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Intent Common Model [IG1253A]

Lays out the intent to system lifecycle - how humans communicate their requirements to the autonomous system and this is how sub-systems communicate requirements between each other and report on their success in operating accordingly.

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Intent Extension Models [IG1253B]

A proposed set of intent extension models to IG1253A which address various concerns and purposes, such as validity management of intent and expectation.  Specified intent extension models add optional additional vocabulary and define its semantics.

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Intent Life Cycle [IG1253C]

Outlines the intent life cycle including the related roles and tasks of intent management functions and defines the interface through which these intent managers perform intent life cycle management actions inc. the mandatory interface procedures that allows basic intent management.

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Intent Manager [IG1253D]

Introduce a registration and discovery scheme involving an intent manager capability profile. Intent management functions can publish their capability profile including their scope of responsibilities through an intent manager registry function and part of the intent manager capability profile.

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Intent based Toolkit*

For additional information and documents, the Intent Toolkit is designed to help members understand the role of intent in autonomous networks to communicate the requirements, goals, constraints, and preferences to an autonomous system; to evaluate the state of the controlled infrastructure and the utility of actions.

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Find out more here about TM Forum's autonomous networks member project and how to get involved.

Improve your skills through Training

Autonomous network and intent-based courses are still in development but until then, here are some great related courses: