How to buy intent based networking today

Cisco made a big splash earlier this year when it revealed its vision for the future of networking: An intent-based networking system that allows users to specify what they want the network to do and management software that automatically orchestrates it.

Since Cisco’s announcement, intent-based networking (IBN) has caught the networking industry’s attention and has seemingly become the buzzword-du-jour. Some see it as a logical evolution of advanced network automation. Others believe it’s a fundamental shift in how enterprises use machine learning to autonomously manage networks. Meanwhile, all types of vendors, from stalwarts of the industry to myriad startups are jumping on to the IBN bandwagon.

+Related: Why Cisco’s intent-based networking could be a big deal+

Analysts who track this market say it is nascent. Cisco says it has some IBN functionality in its Nexus line of switches and will roll out intent features in its Catalyst line. Many vendors, particularly startups, offer parts of an IBN system. “Make sure you understand what the vendor means when they say they offer intent based networking,” recommends IDC data center networking analyst Brad Casemore. “Interrogate them a bit, find out what they’re proposing, whether its applicable to your environment, how it will integrate in your environment and whether your staff can pick it up and run with it.”

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