Cisco: AI, Intent-Based Networking in High Demand

AI will help IT break the cycle of maintaining the status quo.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

October 25, 2019

3 Min Read
AI Networking

IT teams are anxious to adopt intent-based networking (IBN), artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the operations, security or business impacts of their networks.

That’s according to Cisco’s 2020 Global Networking Trends Report. Cisco asked more than 2,000 IT leaders and network strategists how they plan to prioritize investment and the current state of their networks.

Raakhee Mistry, senior director of enterprise networks marketing at Cisco, tells us IT leaders and network strategists are “incredibly optimistic” about the advancements they expect to make in the coming years.

“In order to implement these advancements, like SD-WAN, IBN, 5G and WiFi 6, they will need trusted partners to help them get there,” she said. “However, IT leaders identified the lack of professional services as the No. 1 obstacle to network modernization. It is paramount that partners enable their teams to capture this opportunity to modernize customer networks.”

IT leaders expect new wireless technologies, IoT and AI-enabled operations, threat detection and remediation to have the biggest impact on their network strategy and design during the next five years, according to Cisco‘s report. The top priority for global IT leaders and network strategists is to maximize the business value of IT and more closely align to business needs, it said.

Nearly one-half of network strategists believe increasing the use of analytics and AI will help enable the ideal network. IBN will allow organizations to build on their software-defined networking foundations, according to Cisco.

Some 41% of respondents claim to have at least one instance of SDN in at least one of their network domains. Only 4% of respondents believe their networks have moved beyond software-defined and are intent-based, but 35% believe their networks will be fully intent-based within two years.

“IBN is an expansion of SDN,” Mistry said. “SDN has provided network automation for day 0 and day 1 operations, but organizations need their networks to do more. IBN allows IT to be able to enable direct business outcomes by capturing intent and continuously align the network to that intent. IBN also provides continuous network monitoring and optimization through analytics and AI to support increasingly dynamic and digitally driven business models.”

Just 18% of IT leaders see lack of AI maturity as an obstacle to network modernization, the lowest level of concern indicated in their responses, while 72% of respondents plan to achieve AI-enabled predictive insights or prescriptive remediation within the next two years.

Ninety-four percent of respondents believe they will have SD-WAN in two years and 47% of SD-WAN owners plan to have an AI-optimized WAN in two years.

IT operations are struggling to move from reactive to proactive, hindering their ability to become more aligned to their business, according to the report. One possible explanation is the amount of time spent on maintaining the status quo of the network, while another barrier is operational silos.

One in three IT leaders believe their teams are extremely well prepared to meet all the needs of an advanced network, while another 40% believe they are well prepared and only 7% believe they aren’t prepared at all.

The skills gap, however, remains a barrier for more than one-quarter of IT teams. Some 27% of IT leaders identified a lack of necessary skills as a main obstacle to transitioning to an advanced network, while 22% identified reskilling and upskilling to address the skills gap as a top priority.

“Organizations understand why they need to adopt AI, ML and IBN,” Mistry said. “However, we’re just tapping the surface of what might be possible with next-generation networking technology. What we do know is that organizations need a scalable, automated networking platform that is built to adapt to whatever new possibilities emerge.”

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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