Intent-based networking is set to be the next big thing in networking, according to Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report, published Thursday. While only 4% of the over 2,000 IT professionals surveyed indicated their currently deployed networks are presently intent-based, 35% plan to be within two years.

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The paradigm of intent-based networking is relatively new. Gartner defines intent-based networking as “a piece of networking software that helps to plan, design and implement/operate networks that can improve network availability and agility,” as opposed to a market or a specific product, also calling it “lifecycle management software for networking infrastructure.”

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Only 28% of respondents indicate they have reached service-driven or intent-based networking on Cisco’s Digital Network Readiness Model, though 78% indicated a belief their networks would move from software-defined to service-driven or intent-based networking within the next two years. Likewise, half of network strategists surveyed identified artificial intelligence (AI) as “a priority investment needed to deliver their ideal network.”

Despite the transition from software-defined networking (SDN) to future network types, Market Study Report estimates that SDN solutions are expected to exceed $100 billion by 2025.

Enthusiasm for next-generation wireless is healthy, with 43% of respondents predicting 5G and Wi-Fi 6 “will have the biggest impact on the network in the next 5 years.” 29% idenitified AI Operations as having the biggest impact, though 34% believe their teams are not well equipped with skills to support this, representing the biggest skill gap between expectations and current abilities in the survey.

Overall, a third of IT leaders indicated that their teams are “extremely well prepared” to meet the needs of advanced networks, with 40% believe they are “well prepared,” with 7% indicating they are not prepared at all.

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