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VMware this week used its 10th annual VMworld conference as a stage for unveiling NSX, a network virtualization platform that turns the high-end functions of switches, routers and other networking hardware into software that can run on commodity hardware. VMware described the platform as one of three pillars supporting its overall SDN strategy.
While some took Cisco's absence from the NSX announcement as proof of a growing rift between the networking giant and VMware -- one that was fueled by VMware's $1.2 billion purchase of SDN startup Nicira last year -- partners aren't convinced the VMware-Cisco ties can be cut that easily.
"When VMware bought Nicira, it was clear they were heading in a new direction. And when I look at how the IT landscape is just evolving, ... I think the manufacturers, as they start to look for new frontiers, they are going to get into each other's space," said Sudhir Verma, chief services officer at Force 3, a Crofton, Md.-based solution provider. "This will become a co-opetition. It's a learn-to-live-with-each-other kind of situation."
Steven Reese, chief technology officer at Sigmanet, an Ontario, Calif.-based solution provider, also expects VMware and Cisco to leverage this "co-opetition" model.
"When all is said and done, I think you are going to see a co-opetition -- or cooperative competition -- [between VMware and Cisco], more than just a flat-out, collision course, head-on explosion," Reese told CRN.
VMware, for its part, told attendees at VMworld this week that it has no plans to cut ties with Cisco.
"We are going to do everything in our power to continue building the partnership with Cisco," said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger when asked about the future of the two companies' relationship. Gelsinger added that NSX is going to be a "great platform for Cisco infrastructure."