VMware Responds To Cisco's SDN Bashing, Says NSX Tech Runs Well On VCE Vblocks

VMware is apparently fed up with Cisco talking trash about its NSX software-defined networking technology. So now it's responding with some rhetoric of its own.

On Wednesday, Hatem Naguib, vice president of networking and security at VMware, penned a blog post that said NSX "runs absolutely great" on VCE Vblocks, the preintegrated bundle of Cisco UCS servers and networking, EMC storage and VMware virtualization that has become a popular on-ramp to the cloud for enterprises.

Not only does NSX run well on Vblocks, some VCE customers are actually running it on their Vblocks today, and a growing number of other VCE customers are interested in doing the same, Naguib said in the blog post.

[Related: VMware Weaves Security Benefits Into Its Network Virtualization Sales Pitch For Enterprises ]

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This is a notable claim because VCE picked Cisco's Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) as the default SDN technology for Vblocks last September. While VCE customers can run NSX on Vblocks if they want, if something goes wrong, they have to go to VMware for support, a VCE spokesperson said in an email.

Naguib also took a sly shot at Cisco, noting that running NSX on Vblocks "requires no changes to the underlying hardware infrastructure." Cisco uses hardware and software in ACI, while VMware NSX is all software.

Naguib said VMware will share more details on how it plans to let customers use NSX in Vblocks "in the coming months." A VMware spokesperson declined further comment.

While Cisco began publicly bashing NSX immediately after VMware launched it last November, VMware has so far taken the high road. But in the coming months, VMware is going to get more aggressive in disputing Cisco's criticisms, and Naguib's blog post is an example of this, sources familiar with the matter told CRN.

VMware is especially peeved that Cisco salespeople have been telling VCE customers that NSX doesn't run well on Vblocks, sources said.

The VMware spokesperson declined comment, saying only that nothing has changed in the VMware-Cisco relationship.

"Cisco is a key partner and we continue to work with them and our joint customers to deliver VMware technologies on all of their hardware," the VMware spokesperson said in an email. "We do have a different point of view about how to build next-generation data centers."

VCE said Wednesday that it's now selling Vblocks with Cisco's Nexus 9000 series switches, but right now, NSX is the only SDN technology that runs on Vblocks. Customers won't be able to take full advantage of ACI until Cisco releases its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), which it's expected to do before the end of June.

Cisco CEO John Chambers, in the company’s third-quarter earnings call Wednesday, said the networking giant is well-positioned to lure away VMware's NSX customers. "The momentum feels very, very good on it, and I think you'll just see us knock them off one after the other," Chambers said on the call.

A Cisco spokesperson told CRN the company is confident that ACI will be the best fit for VCE customers.

"Ultimately, we believe a superior technology embedded directly into the Vblock architecture and covered with world-class technical support will be the winning solution for VCE customers," the Cisco spokesperson said in an emailed statement.