VMware Reveals Pricing For NSX Software-Defined Networking Tech, Says It's Ready For Channel Rollout

VMware, which began selling its NSX software-defined networking technology last November, is enlisting channel partners to help battle its main rival in the space: Cisco.

VMware added NSX to its general price list last Friday, which means its large base of channel partners can now sell it.

"We're now broadening the sales channel for NSX in a big way," VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said last week at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference in San Francisco.

VMware NSX can be sold with either a perpetual or term license. List pricing for a perpetual license starts at $5,996 per CPU, and list price for a term license starts at $34 per virtual machine per month.

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VMware also is offering volume discounts for NSX, a spokesperson for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor said in an email.

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

NSX is a complex technology that's still a bit ahead of the curve for some enterprises. So far, VMware has been selling NSX only through a specially trained sales force, Gelsinger said at last week's event.

VMware has around 10 early adopter partners selling NSX through a program launched in February. Sources told CRN VMware is planning to unveil a new channel program competency for NSX at VMworld in August, which will establish the requirements for partners that want to transact in NSX deals.

Patrick Cronin, principal at Kovarus, a VMware partner in San Ramon, Calif., told CRN he expects NSX -- and software-defined networking in general -- to be a game-changer for enterprises.

"If you look at what the service providers have been developing over the last 10 years to enable efficient multitenant service delivery, this is essentially it," Cronin said of NSX. "This is the next logical level of virtualization and automating IT environments, and now it's commercially available for enterprises."

VMware paid $1.2 billion for Nicira, the SDN startup whose technology powers NSX, nearly two years ago, and the time is nigh for it to start getting a return on that investment.

VMware also needs more partners selling NSX to keep up with Cisco, which has been aggressively touting its SDN technology, known as Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI), while at the same time bashing NSX.

While VMware's software-defined networking vision is centered on software, Cisco believes a hardware-centric approach is best.

During Cisco's earnings call last month, CEO John Chambers claimed that Cisco was well on its way to getting VMware NSX customers to switch to ACI. But the centerpiece of Cisco's ACI vision -- called the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller, or APIC -- won't ship until "summer," according to Cisco.

Cisco's stepped-up attacks on NSX have had the effect of driving more customer interest, Gelsinger said at last week's event.

"Cisco declared us public enemy No. 1. All of a sudden, every customer ... now has to say, 'What's going on over there?'" Gelsinger said. "We love it. It has brought us into so many conversations, and it's driving interest and activity."

Meanwhile, Gelsinger also revealed that VMware now has more than 100 paying customers for NSX, including McKesson, Starbucks, and carriers NTT and ChinaTel.

"Some are in prototypes, some are in full-production deployment, but they've paid us for the platform. These are real customers and real situations," Gelsinger said at the event.

Rackspace and eBay, which were among the handful of customers VMware trotted out at the NSX launch last November, are now "at dramatic production scale" with NSX, Gelsinger said.