Cisco Links to IBN With Website Redirect


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Cisco has launched another assault in the marketing wars for the hot new datacenter movement known as intent-based networking (IBN). When you go to, it redirects to a page for Cisco's Applications Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Cheap marketing trick or long-term strategy? Hard to tell.

Pretty crafty move by Cisco to get access to the domain. But how did it happen? What's curious is that Cisco does not appear to own the domain. The domain is registered to Joseph Onisick and Define the Cloud, based in Campbell, Calif., according to a WHOIS lookup with ICANN, which tracks domain names. Define the Cloud is a website "dedicated to subjects covering both datacenter architecture and cloud computing from a business and technical perspective." The website's "About" section says that Onisick, a former US Marine, has 17 years of IT experience including server/network administration. It does not list any affiliation with Cisco, but Cisco has confirmed that Onisick is a Cisco employee. Cisco says that the Define the Cloud blog is a separate business of Onisick's, though it also carries a "Blog with Integrity" badge, which is interesting.

(Update: Onisick contacted Futuriom and confirmed that he owns the domain; he is a current Cisco employee from the ACI team and he said he is letting Cisco use the domain; Cisco initially told me that they owned the domain but then corrected themselves to say that Onisick is a Cisco employee and owns the domain.)

If you don't know what Intent-based Networking is, here's a primer. The idea behind intent is to program a network to make its own decisions based on a description of the desired end-state of the network.

Cisco's move to redirect this domain may serve as a larger metaphor for the intent-based marketing wars. The phrase was coined in the startup world, where Apstra used IBN to describe the approach of programming a cloud network to behave according to intent, rather than by rigid policy-based rules. Apstra officials have argued that Cisco has started an "intent-washing" campaign in the IBN movement to take over the marketing. The company says this phenomenon was first discussed by Gartner analysts.

Cisco recently jumped on the IBN bandwagon as part of its future technology mission, with Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins describing it as a major effort of the company's future technology.

The redirect certainly makes a statement: Cisco believes that ACI is an intent-based system. This statement is a stretch, at best. For one thing, most of Cisco's ACI efforts require Cisco hardware and software, whereas true IBN products would be able to manage a heterogenous collection of vendor equipment and software in the cloud. In fact, nearly all of Cisco's ACI case studies highlight customers that have standardized on Cisco equipment. Also, Cisco's ACI programming methods could lead to improved operation and management, but they are not intent-based systems that program the network to think for itself.