Cisco, Curtin University to open research centre for ‘intent-based networking’

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Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.

By U2B Staff 

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Curtin University and technology giant Cisco hit another milestone in their partnership this week with a new collaboration – plans to open a Centre for Intent-Based Networking at the university.

The centre, to be based at Curtin’s campus in Perth, Australia, will see the institution’s researchers conduct “blue-sky research” (research without immediate real-world applications) on intent-based networking and develop a new generation of applications to support industries that require a new approach to networking. Research output will then be shared with Cisco and Cisco’s partners and customers across the globe.

To provide researchers with access to a real-world environment, Curtin has deployed an intent-based network across its entire campus. The centre will use Curtin as a “living laboratory for the network”, Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said at Cisco Live 2019 in Melbourne on Wednesday.

“This will enhance our research capabilities … [in] data science, computational science, networking, et cetera,” she added, according to ZDNet.

The centre is part of Cisco’s recently announced ‘Country Digital Acceleration’ program for Australia, in which the firm will invest AU$61 million across three years to help drive the country’s secure digital transformation. The program, says Cisco, is a “long-term partnership with national leadership, industry and academia”.

Intent-based networking is the networking industry’s latest and hottest buzzword. Dubbed as the next evolution of network software management, intent-based networking systems or IBNS allows network administrators to define a desired state of the network and then have those policies implemented via automated software.

With more and more applications migrating to the cloud, devices coming online and a threat landscape that continues to widen, this capability has become more important than ever to businesses.

Traditionally, IT teams would use human-powered, time-intensive methods to manage the network, making changes one network device at a time. With IBNS, however, they can interact with the network as a single fabric. In the case of a problem like a cyberattack, the network can respond in real time.

The emergence of the Internet of Things has also opened up areas of opportunity for the use of IBNS to accelerate transformation in industries like manufacturing, mining and utilities. These industries, Cisco says, face challenges in converging their IT and operational networks, challenges Curtin researchers at the centre will seek to address.

Cisco’s intent-based networks automates routine tasks, uses analytics to help tech teams make better decisions, and embeds security into the network. The network is also an open and programmable platform, which allows customers and partners to build applications that will speak directly to it.

“With intent-based networking, we’re reinventing the network from the ground up, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible,” said Scott Harrell, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Networking at Cisco.

“Australia has always been an early adopter of Cisco’s new technologies. By teaming with Curtin University, we will unearth new opportunities for the network to transform industries.”

Additionally, the centre will focus on developing intent-based network curriculum to train future workers. The curriculum will be made available in online (MOOC) and residential courses for Cisco customers and partners in the region.

Terry said Curtin was proud to be extending and expanding on what has already proven to be a successful partnership with Cisco.

“The alliance will see the adoption of innovative Cisco technologies and solutions by Curtin and will also help Curtin to develop the highly skilled and industry-ready students of the future.

“Curtin University is already a major player in Australia’s technology landscape and we look forward to continuing that role in partnership with Cisco.”

In 2016, Cisco unveiled Innovation Central Perth at the university, an award-winning collaborabation between the two parties, Woodside and Data61/CSIRO. Since launch, the centre has worked with over 300 companies on almost 80 projects trialling new technology solutions that leverage disruptive IoT technologies and the computational and data science skills of the Curtin Institute for Computation.

The Centre for Intent-Based Networking will be co-located on the Curtin University Perth campus with Innovation Central Perth.