top of page

Revolutionizing Infrastructure Deployments: Introducing Intent-Based Infrastructure

Updated: Apr 10

Intent-Based Infrastructure

Traditional infrastructure management methods are reaching their limits in today's dynamic tech landscape. The prevailing approach of addressing infrastructure on a device-by-device basis is proving counterproductive. Instead, we must adopt a broader perspective, looking beyond individual components and emphasizing holistic infrastructure deployments that align with the business objectives. The shift from pseudo-automated setups to intent-based systems has become imperative. 

However, while the concept of intent-based systems has gained traction, most existing models primarily concentrate on networking (Intent Based Networking), sidelining crucial aspects like compute and storage systems.  

Drawing from RFC 9315, which defines Intent as "A set of operational goals and outcomes defined in a declarative manner without specifying how to achieve or implement them" - this concept should extend beyond Intent Based Networking to Intent-Based-Infrastructure. 

Intent Based Infrastructure (IBI) offers a transformative approach by enabling users to express their application requirements through logical diagrams, liberating them from the complexities of underlying physical device configurations. This approach aligns perfectly with the current needs of modern infrastructure management. 

IBI underscores the importance of separating intent from the implementation details, striving to automate infrastructure based on user-defined objectives. These users can range from the consumers to the administrators of said infrastructure.  

In this blog, we'll dive deeper into the Intent-Based Infrastructure, uncovering its concepts, exploring its potential, and understanding how MetalSoft revolutionizes infrastructure management for a more efficient and streamlined future. 

Understanding Intent-Based Infrastructure (IBI) Concepts 

At its core, IBI embodies a mechanism where users articulate their desired infrastructure, network, and security policies using high-level, human-readable language, API calls, or graphical representations. These intentions are then interpreted by a system, which autonomously translates them into concrete physical deployments, handling the configuration of servers, switches, and storage elements, presenting the user with an infrastructure ready to be consumed.  

The end users focus on expressing their requirements without delving into the “nitty-gritty” details of hardware configuration, enabling seamless translation of intent to reality. 

How it works:  

The primary essence of IBI lies in its ability to decouple the logical representation of infrastructure from its physical manifestation, thus also enabling a Digital Twin.

Logical representation realizing Digital Twin 

Figure 1: Logical representation realizing Digital Twin 

The MetalSoft platform introduces a concept of an Instance, which is a logical entity having mapping to a physical server that has properties such as a server type, IP addresses, hostnames, drives attached, et cetera. 

This logical separation, in the form of an Instance, allows end users to specify their intent, which may include high level intent such as deploying a Hadoop cluster or a Web application on a Kubernetes cluster, or a more granular intent, such as requiring bare metal compute with a specific configuration. This separation also offers the benefit of facilitating hardware maintenance or replacement seamlessly, without the need for end user intervention.  

There are three building blocks to realize the Intent Based Infrastructure as shown below: 

Building blocks of Intent Based Infrastructure 

Figure 2: Building blocks of Intent Based Infrastructure 

Intent Definition: End-users and administrators specify their requirements and guardrails through a user-friendly graphical interface called the Infrastructure Editor, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tools like Terraform and Ansible, or programming languages such as Python, NodeJS, and Go. They specify the intended results without concerning themselves with the procedural details of achieving those outcomes.  

Intent Translation: MetalSoft platform interprets these intentions. It breaks down the high-level abstractions, converting the intent into a hierarchical deployment graph. This process involves decomposing the intent to corresponding configuration blocks, low-level device configurations and deployment strategies. 

This abstraction enables the platform to manage the heterogeneity of devices, which might not be a significant concern for end users, despite being a large challenge for administrators. 

Intent Realization: The MetalSoft platform then identifies and allocates resources and orchestrates the individual provisioning steps for deployment of infrastructure components. This process involves configuring servers, switches, storage, and more as per the specified intent and predefined rules.  

At this final stage, users are not concerned about how a given intent is achieved, they are presented with realization of their intent. 

Let’s see it in action: 


Upon completing the authentication and authorization procedures, the user accesses the MetalSoft Infrastructure Editor (GUI) and is presented with a canvas. Within this interface, the user has the ability to select the desired data center or environment for deploying their workload. This entity, encapsulated with the word "Infrastructure," comprises a collection of servers, network components, and storage devices. 

Infrastructure Editor Welcome Screen 

Figure 3: Infrastructure Editor Welcome Screen 

Intent Definition Canvas: Facilitating drag-n-drop

Figure 4: Intent Definition Canvas: Facilitating drag-and-drop

From there, users have the ability to initiate the definition of their intention, which might be as straightforward as requesting a single bare metal server, connected to the WAN.

Defining Compute Intent

Figure 5: Defining Compute Intent 

In addition, users have the option to specify the network types they wish to associate with their compute infrastructure. This may include defining Storage Area Network (SAN) and Local Area Network (LAN). Within MetalSoft, there exists a specialized abstract framework that we call Network Profiles, which instructs the system on how the network should be configured. By default, networks are mapped to dedicated L2 networks, although this can be altered through the Network Profiles admin interface. Alternatively, users can opt for an "automatic" mode, enabling the system to automatically determine the necessary network layout as outlined by the administrator. 

Defining Networking Intent 
Defining Networking Intent 

Figure 6: Defining Networking Intent 

Suppose a user intends to set up a Kubernetes cluster where the worker nodes possess distinct VLANs connected to the interfaces. The user can specify this intention through a Network Profile, which acts as a policy defining how an instance connects to a network. This profile delineates one or multiple overlay networks, as well as specifies which subnet pools should be utilized for assigning subnets and consequently, IP addresses within this network. 

Drawing the intent to create a Network VLAN
Drawing the intent to create a Network VLAN

Figure 7: Drawing the intent to create a Network VLAN

Users have the straightforward option to drag and drop to define a connection between the interface and its corresponding VLAN. 

Intent to add another VLAN 

 Figure 8: Intent to add another VLAN 

According to their intentions, users might desire to link storage to their cluster. They can achieve this by effortlessly dragging and dropping the storage volume template onto the corresponding compute instance. 

Adding Storage to the cluster

Figure 9: Adding Storage to the cluster

At this stage, the user has defined their intent to deploy a Kubernetes cluster with specific network configurations and a storage/volume template. This action generates a Digital Twin or a logical representation of the infrastructure. However, no physical implementation has occurred at this point. 


The subsequent stage involves Intent Translation, where the MetalSoft platform converts the user's intent into a hierarchical deployment graph, depicted as follows:  

Deployment Graph: Translating Intent into workflow. 

Figure 10: Deployment Graph: Translating Intent into workflow

Deployment Graph: Switch Provisioning 

Figure 11: Deployment Graph: Switch Provisioning 

Following the translation and validation of the intent, the subsequent stage is Intent Realization.  

In this stage, the MetalSoft platform configures the individual underlying physical subsystems based on the configurations outlined in the intent. Upon completion of deployment and configuration, the end user will receive access to utilize their intent, such as obtaining a Kubernetes endpoint URL and a Kubectl config file. 

Intent Realization - Cluster build out

Figure 12: Intent Realization - Cluster build out

Benefits of Intent-Based Infrastructure (IBI): 

  • Agility and Flexibility: Users can swiftly adapt to changing requirements without being constrained by rigid hardware configurations. 

  • Reduced Complexity: Abstracting away from low-level configurations simplifies the deployment process, fostering efficiency and reducing errors. 

  • Enhanced Scalability: IBI facilitates scalability by flexing resources up or down in response to growing demands. 

  • Better Security & Compliance: Reduces the risk of human error and provides a precise, 100% accurate view of inventory, enhancing security and compliance measures. 

  • Unified pool of resources: Hardware resources are readily available for any application from a shared pool. Through network reconfiguration, servers can be rapidly and securely reallocated where needed, thereby increasing utilization efficiency. 


Intent-Based Infrastructure revolutionizes how businesses conceptualize and deploy their application architecture.  

By enabling users to express their intent in high-level terms, MetalSoft abstracts the complexity of hardware configurations, ushering in an era of agility, efficiency, and adaptability in infrastructure management.  

As organizations continue to evolve, IBI stands as a beacon of innovation, reshaping the landscape of modern application deployment methodologies.  

Focusing on the outcome enables much greater operational efficiency and flexibility at a greater scale, in shorter time scales, and with less dependency on human activities (and therefore less possibility for mistakes). 


bottom of page