Cisco, NetApp Make It Clear: No VMware NSX For FlexPod


Jim McHugh, Adam Fore
Jim McHugh (left), Cisco's vice president of data center marketing, and Adam Fore, NetApp's director of virtualization and cloud solutions marketing

The FlexPod reference architecture will not be supporting VMware's NSX software-defined networking technology but will instead support Cisco's competing Application Centric Infrastructure technology, a move that some solution providers called a potential long-term risk.

Cisco Systems Wednesday also said that the FlexPod solution has reached an annual run rate of $2 billion, with year-over-year shipment growth of 70 percent.

While the FlexPod reference architecture, which was jointly developed by NetApp and Cisco, is hypervisor-agnostic, there are no plans to support the NSX software-defined networking (SDN) technology supported by VMware, the developer of the world's most popular hypervisor, said Jim McHugh, vice president of data center marketing at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

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"It's not Cisco's intent to support NSX," McHugh said. "And there's no plan to run NSX on FlexPod as well. Support of IT architectures is a big benefit for partners. As customers move to software-defined architectures and the ACI approach, we want to ensure they have the right support."

Despite not supporting VMware's NSX SDN strategy or even having it on the FlexPod road map does not mean FlexPod is turning its back on VMware, McHugh said.

"There's more than ample opportunities for VMware vSphere customers to successfully roll out solutions with the Cisco ACI approach," he said. "That gives them the benefits of the Nexus 9000 switches while letting them leverage their existing investments. But reliability stems from the ability to manage one solution, not two, and from Cisco's experience in networking."

VMware did not respond to CRN's request for comment.

The decision to not support VMware's NSX SDN technology is no surprise given Cisco's need to get its competing ACI SDN technology to market, but it's a decision that could hurt FlexPod over time, according to FlexPod solution providers.

"Of course it's an issue," said one solution provider, who requested anonymity. "It's a classic case of Cisco being a bully in the industry. For FlexPod, it would be better to have the ability to work with NSX or OpenFlow."

However, the solution provider told CRN, the decision to not support VMware NSX is not really a limit to FlexPod's market, at least for now.

"It will still take some time before SDN becomes available," the solution provider said. "It's still considered a 'science fair' project. The main focus of FlexPod will continue to be the same as it is today. There may be universities or certain customers who need the SDN innovation, but if they can't get it from their vendors, they'll do it themselves."

NEXT: No VMware NSX Support Could Backfire On FlexPod