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Cisco ACI and the VmWare NSX comparison


Today I am writing on one of the most interested article as per the demand. Industry is moving towards the cloud based solution and Software-Defined Networks and there are so many vendors in the market who are leading with their capabilities and features on Cloud based and Software-defined solution. Here in this article I will take two leaders in this domain ( Cisco and VmWare) on the Software-Defined network design and infrastructure.

Fig 1.1- SDN Vendors and Specs

Both are coming with their solution in the market, Cisco come up with the solution named ACI- Application Centric Infrastructure while if are talking about the VmWare, they have the solution named as NSX- Virtual networking and security software.

SDN is now one of the most demanding topic and the solution which all the Data-center based companies watching and there are so many competitors and still companies are looking or evaluating the features and the use cases around these from the different vendors in their networks.Software-defined networking (SDN) in the networking equipment becomes more programmable and enables automation that increases business velocity, while simultaneously delivering capital and operational savings.

Cisco ACI-Application Centric Infrastructure & VmWare NSX Head to Head
If we are talking about the solution of Cisco, Cisco’s actually addresses both physical and virtual networks as one network, in a consistent application-centric policy-driven framework. VMware’s NSX is a hypervisor overlay-based model that is VMware centric and requires network gateways to talk to bare-metal applications and other network endpoints.

Fig -1.2 Head to Head ACI vs NSX


Cisco’s ACI provides a single view of management for all application components which includes physical and virtual networks, the services from Layer 4 till Layer 7 services and probably if you are looking the roadmap of the ACI infrastructure they will come up with compute and storage as well. ACI provides you the health of the network to that of the application, and it provides deep visibility and troubleshooting capabilities.


Fig 1.3-VmWare NSX

Lets have some shadow on VmWare NSX, VmWare NSX introduces a overlay network and has no direct visibility into the underlying physical network, delegating the correlation between overlay and underlay to other tools. NSX provides automation only for virtual networks, and currently it does not provide any management of underlay physical devices. Cisco ACI offers open interfaces and application programming interfaces (APIs), and it supports multi-hypervisor environments. 

Fig 1.4- Cisco ACI Infrastructure


The open Northbound and Southbound APIs of the ACI controller, APIC, provide seamless integration with existing management, orchestration, L4-7 services, and physical and virtual devices. This provides complete investment protection to customers by enabling them to integrate their existing IT systems into an ACI architecture. NSX limits customers’ choices by offering different products and functionality for vSphere and Linux-based hypervisors and providing no Microsoft Hyper-V support. NSX requires a license for every host that participates in the overlay. In addition,
the NSX architecture requires additional compute capacity for implementing gateway functions and running management components with high levels of availability.

Let's compare both these vendors and below is the table showing the same

Fig 1.5 -Cisco ACI and VmWare NSX Feature Comparison

I will take another article to have the complete view on Cisco ACI and VmWare NSX in detail with the configuration example as well and the design guide in both the cases.

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