It’s starting to look like 2019 will be remembered as the year people stopped asking, “what is intent-based networking?” and started saying “I need intent-based networking.”

In case you’re still asking, intent-based networking, or IBN, is a modern approach to managing modern networks, so they behave as intended. And as networks grow more diverse and complex, the need for employing such sophisticated, AI-fueled prediction and mathematical modeling techniques to head off problems and smooth expansion is climbing.

All of this helps explain why the IBN market is expected to grow more than 32 percent per year to surpass $4 billion by 2025. And the ecosystem is responding.

Whether by negotiating partnerships, gobbling up startups or creating it in-house, established networking companies are clamoring to add this increasingly critical capability to their portfolio. Investors see the budding activity, and want a stake. And, perhaps most importantly, customers want IBN in their toolbox.

Earlier this month, in fact, Forward Networks announced that a customer of the pioneer IBN provider became an investor as well. Over the past year, Goldman Sachs IT went all in on the award-winning Forward Networks across its entire network of more than 15,000 devices. In fact, the team was so impressed with Forward Enterprise, the company’s IBN platform, that the world’s second-largest investment bank decided to lead the startup’s $35 million Series C funding round.

Other network services providers also are looking to add IBN capabilities – by any means possible. In just the past several months, for example:

·       Cloud services startup Zenlayer closed its Series B funding round, raising $30 million to fund expansion as well as R&D – primarily to develop in-house IBN capabilities

·       VMWare announced that it was buying IBN provider Veriflow. Terms haven’t been disclosed

·       Tata Consultancy Services, an IT services conglomerate based in India, revealed it will be building applications for its clients on top of Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA-C), one of the networking giant’s main IBN platforms.

In addition to Cisco, Huawei and Juniper have also added IBN capabilities to their portfolios in the past couple of years.

So, are you still asking what is intent-based networking? I didn’t think so!