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VMware Claims Over 150 NSX Customers, Brings SDN Tech To Channel

Joseph F. Kovar

VMware has brought its NSX software-defined networking solution to the channel, a move that's proving to be an exciting one for the company's solution providers.

VMware already has over 150 paying customers for NSX a month after officially releasing pricing, CEO Pat Gelsinger told analysts during the company's fiscal second-quarter earnings call Tuesday.

VMware's NSX technology stems from VMware's $1.2 billion acquisition of startup Nicira in 2012.

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

VMware also has over 300 paying customers for its Virtual SAN, or VSAN, software-defined storage solution. VSAN started shipping in March of this year.

NSX and VSAN are both a part of VMware's software-defined data center strategy.

Carl Eschenbach, VMware president and COO, said during the call that the company is already seeing a $100 million annual run rate for NSX.

"As we move beyond the first 100 customers to the next 1,000, we are moving NSX to the VMware price list for channel partners," Eschenbach said.

VMware's channel partners appear excited by the availability of VMware's NSX technology.

John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and VMware partner, called it great news in an email to CRN.

"Now that we can offer NSX, we will be able to provide the full suite of components for the Software Defined Data Center! Really glad to hear this!" Woodall wrote.

Another VMware solution provider, responding via email anonymously to CRN because of its alignment with Cisco and its competing ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) software-defined networking solution, wrote that the news is good for VMware.

"I have heard they have a backlog of clients ready to buy according to other channel guys. We see a lot of interest but are not pushing it at all as you can imagine due to our alignment with Cisco," the solution provider wrote.

VMware expects the same TAM, or total addressable market, opportunity for both NSX and VSAN over the next three years, Eschenbach said during the call in response to a question from a financial analyst.

VSAN is beating internal sales projections, while NSX is already in use in both test and development and in production use, he said. "We believe we have the only viable, shippable [software-defined networking] product in the market today," he said.

NEXT: Parsing The VMware-Cisco SDN Competition


Sales of VSAN and NSX both leverage the foundation VMware has laid with its vSphere virtualization platform, Gelsinger said. "That's the power of our SDDC strategy," he said, referring to software-defined data centers.

While VMware's sales of its NSX solution conflicts with the software-defined networking sales of sometime partner, sometime competitor Cisco, Gelsinger said in response to an analyst question about competition between the two companies that he actually loves Cisco's hardware.

"We don't see any reason for them to lose," he said.

Jamie Shepard, regional and health systems senior vice president at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and partner of both VMware and Cisco, said in an email to CRN that the competition between VMware and Cisco is heating up.

The competition between the two vendors began with the release of software-defined networking technology for Cisco's Nexus 1000V networking switch for vSphere, Shepard wrote.

"As a channel partner we could sell either the VMware SKU for 1000V or CISCO's SKU for 1000V. It came down to who spoke to who about getting those deals. Networks folks were being sold by network centric VARs and VMware data center folks were being sold to by data center VMware-centric VARs. They both competed on the 1000V conversations, and that is where a lot of the 'software defined' language for network virtualization began to take root. You could see the battle softly beginning with CISCO network VARs crossing over into data center and virtualization and vice-versa," he wrote.

It is important for a solution provider like Lumenate to be able to bring both options to customers, Shepard wrote.

"Lumenate uses a Task Force Team approach with our customers which means that we are the ones making sure that we are having all of the right conversations with all of the stake holders including other manufacturers to ensure accuracy and to ensure that we are providing the customer with what they expect and not what just the network centric VARs are saying or the data center virtualization VARs are saying. We are both and we bring these conversations together," he wrote.

PUBLISHED JULY 22, 2014

Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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