Apstra’s Intent-Based Networking

Peter Welcher
Architect, Operations Technical Advisor

This is one of several blogs about the vendor presentations during Network Field Day 19, which took place November 7-9, 2018. This blog contains a summary of the vendor presentations and any related comments or opinions I might have (I’ll share at least some of them).

If this blog motivates you to greater interest in what the vendor had to say, you can find the cleaned up streaming video of their presentations at the Tech Field Day YouTube channel, specifically the NFD19 playlist, or by clicking on the vendor’s logo on the main #NFD19 web page (linked above).

We’ve heard from Apstra before, and I’ve become somewhat of a fan. Multi-vendor automation at large scale (with a current focus on broadening its data center fabric automation). What’s not to like?


Apstra is a hot network automation startup that started talking about “Intent-Based Networking” before that became a Thing.

Apstra now has some marquee customers and has been adding AOS features. AOS is a vendor-neutral platform for expressing intent, automating deployment, and managing, with their current focus being datacenter spine-leaf fabrics.

AOS supports features like VLANs, VXLAN, BGP EVPN, anycast gateway with ARP suppression, IP multicast, and VRFs. AOS caught my eye a while back as a possible alternative to Cisco’s fabric management tools, especially if one wants just fabric without security. DCNM LAN is Cisco’s alternative for that niche — or ACI and just not using some of the features.

One key difference is that AOS supports selected equipment from other switch vendors. Apstra considers that to reduce risk.

Presentation by Mansour Karam, CEO and Founder, Apstra

I’ll refer you to the online #NFD19 videos for Carly Stoughton’s whiteboarding overview. Also, for how DJ Spry leveraged sped-up screen cap automation to the tune of Benny Hill to emphasize how fast Apstra can deploy equipment (once that physical racking and cabling has been done). He then toured the UI some.

Rags Rachamadugu demonstrated Intent-Based Analytics, including how context enriches the analytics. The telemetry data is exposed via the API. There is a catalog of probes as well. Ones that I noted: mismatch of vSphere VLAN versus physical VLAN, MLAG or ECMP imbalance, hot / cold interfaces (versus normal traffic levels). We were told they’re all up on Github for community access.

Some comments along the way indicated that Apstra is focused on extending “intent” to VMware and to devices that attach to the datacenter fabric. I imagine we’ll be hearing more about that as AOS evolves!

Ryan Booth and Jere Julian (of NetworkToCode) discussed and demonstrated AOS and ServiceNow Integration. NetworkToCode can provide AOS / Intent-Based Networking (IBN) training and other services.

David Cheriton (Founder) wrapped up with an off-camera sneak preview roadmap. There is some more neat functionality coming!


Apstra is expanding / broadening functionality while expanding the scope of Intent-Based Networking (and Telemetry, and Analytics, and more).


Comments are welcome, both in agreement or constructive disagreement about the above. I enjoy hearing from readers and carrying on deeper discussion via comments. Thanks in advance!


Hashtags: #CiscoChampion #TheNetCraftsmenWay #Apstra #NFD19 #Networking

Twitter: @pjwelcher

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.