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Cisco ACI vs VMware NSX comparison

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Buyer's Guide
Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX
May 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
608,713 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"I like using WebEx Board.""It is very easy to do the configuration after you know how to work with the product. It is global, so you change one interface, and changes are reflected on every switch.""ACI's most valuable feature is its SDN capabilities. Everything is on your software design controller. Everything is blocked by default until you allow it.""The stability is quite good.""We had different networks and combined them with ACI so we could have the control of one controller-based network. Also, everything is combined now.""The most valuable feature is the throughput that it offers.""You can integrate Cisco ACI well with VMware.""Cisco's technical support team is very good."

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"It's a beneficial tool.""The solution is very good at micro-segmentation.""The most valuable features are security and dynamic routing.""The most valuable features for us at this early stage are the interface and the integration with existing VMware solutions.""The most valuable features are the micro-segmentation and integrated security options.""Some of the key features I find most valuable are the highly graphical user interface, virtualization of networks, and Microsoft application compatibility. It has all the functionality that we require.""This is a good firewall and overall it is rich in features.""It gives more security and micro-segmentation. It helps to set network configurations in an easy way."

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"Its graphical user interface (GUI) is not as user-friendly as it could be.""The integration has room for improvement. There should be a drag-and-drop interface for configuring the integration where you connect some arrows to boxes, and the system takes care of the configuration. Right now, they have something similar, but it's limited. You have to take care of some things yourself. That is one area that the solution can work on. It's easy now, but it's much easier in other solutions.""Before version 5, you could manage your firewall or load balancer from the AP. It was very basic and now they removed the whole features in the new version, so you cannot manage your load balance or firewall from your AP on L2, L4, and L7 services.""Training for this product is available from institutions but it is not available online where you can get users trained easily.""I would like this solution to be integrated with Pure Storage.""It would be great if ACI would include the next generation firewall feature.""I would like to be able to test the upgrades in a simulation before implementing them in production because not everyone has a lab.""Cisco ACI is a highly complex solution. The initial deployment is just a few clicks, but understanding how an ACI works and interacts with routing, switching, and virtualization takes a lot of knowledge. The interface isn't necessarily hard to use, but the technology is complicated. If you want to understand how it works and how to configure it, you should study hard."

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"It isn't easy to deploy.""It could be more user-friendly, but it's manageable. When we add a specific node to this particular NSX and the configuration changes, it won't push through the errors where required, but it'll accept it. However, while using it, we will have issues. It can also be more stable.""In the future, the solution should be compliant with internet NIC.""VMware NSX only supports some platforms like KVM.""VMware NSX can improve the migration tools from the older environments to the new environment. For example, the NSX-V has become a legacy solution, it's out of support, but customers are able to keep using it. For migration purposes, it's better for them to provide a proper tool. It will be easy to migrate from an old environment to a new one.""Some configuration maximums are limiting to the user, especially when it comes to the deployment of very, very large environments.""VMware NSX provides a lot of automation capabilities, but there is still room for improvement.""There are always issues integrating with Cisco."

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Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "This is an expensive solution."
  • "I don't believe there is any licensing required."
  • "Once you sign for the start kit implementation, you have to go all the way through to the implementation, even if you are experiences issues."
  • "It is quite expensive. It is not at all on the cheap or medium side."
  • "Cisco is much more expensive than other vendors, especially when it comes to the licensing."
  • "The cost is fine."
  • More Cisco ACI Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "The licensing fees are expensive and we pay on a yearly basis."
  • "It is an expensive product, but cheaper than some competing solutions."
  • "The price of this product is too high."
  • "This solution requires a licence."
  • "VMware NSX is expensive and everything is licensed. We have to pay for each individual feature."
  • "The price is based on the virtual desktop infrastructure(VDI) side and also is dependant on the size of the environment. The price is expensive and it could attract more purchasers in smaller organisations if it was reduced."
  • "I was not involved in the purchase of the solution but I hear it is on the expensive side."
  • "There is a license required for this solution, we pay annually."
  • More VMware NSX Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Answers from the Community
    Saurabh Bhattacharya - PeerSpot reviewerSaurabh Bhattacharya
    Real User

    There are some very major differences between both the Products and to name a few.

    -Cisco ACI have physical network gear (9K Switches) where the Code runs in ACI Policy Mode & the UCS server where APIC software runs.

    -VMware NSX doesn't have any physical network gear of its own, VMware NSX software runs on ESXi hosts(Any Vendor) & even NSX Bare Metal Edge runs on any Vendor hardware(check compatibility)

    -Cisco ACI offers both Underlay & Overlay functionality

    -VMware NSX is a software and it builds an Overlay tunnel for (VM/Container) communication on top of an already established IP network which can be build on hardware network gear (Cisco Legacy/ACI/Juniper etc.)

    -Cisco ACI: To use micro-segmentation on a VM or Container level you will need some other Cisco products

    -VMware NSX: Micro-segmentation can be done Out of the Box because DFW Distributed Firewall are applied on the vnic of a VM i.e. on the ESXi kernel.

    Being different in many manners but they still define the SDN realm with L2-L7 Network services and what you choose over the other may depend on many other factors like what network gear you already have or if its Green or Brownfield deployment. For example if your infra already have something other than Cisco 9K switches and is well configured then it will make more sense to use NSX to make use of all the SDN functionalities. This is just an example not a recommendation.

    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:There are some very major differences between both the Products and to name a few. -Cisco ACI have physical network gear (9K Switches) where the Code runs in ACI Policy Mode & the UCS server where… more »
    Top Answer:Once you know your way around the Cisco ecosystem, using Cisco ACI is not so difficult. It is a global product, so when you change one interface, changes are automatically reflected on every switch… more »
    Top Answer:ACI's most valuable feature is its SDN capabilities. Everything is on your software design controller. Everything is blocked by default until you allow it.
    Top Answer:The most valuable features of VMware NSX are the tight integration with the VMware Hypervisor natively and the management console. We have a lot of other integrations where you are able to see the… more »
    Top Answer:The price of VMware NSX is very good compared to other solutions. I rate the price of VMware NSX a five out of five.
    Top Answer:VMware NSX can improve the migration tools from the older environments to the new environment. For example, the NSX-V has become a legacy solution, it's out of support, but customers are able to keep… more »
    Average Words per Review
    Average Words per Review
    Also Known As
    VMware Nicira
    Learn More
    Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) reduces TCO, automates IT tasks, and accelerates data center application deployments. It accomplishes this using a business-relevant Software Defined Networking (SDN) policy model across networks, servers, storage, security, and services.

    VMware NSX is a full-stack network and security virtualization platform that enables the virtual cloud network. NSX provides a software-defined process for networking that expands throughout cloud frameworks, data centers, and application structures. Users can join and secure applications within their container and multi-cloud infrastructure and their data center. With robust automated provisioning, the platform offers dynamic flexibility and scalability without compromising on network speed or agility.

    VMware NSX recreates the whole software network model so that users can create and deliver apps quickly and securely. Users can customize security policies and leverage IDS/IPS to block against lateral threats. These security policies can be managed throughout private and public clouds from one pane of glass, no matter where your applications run. By consolidating networking and security tasks into a unified platform, users can save up to one-third of their budget.

    VMware NSX Use Cases

    VMware NSX brings the operational model of a virtual machine to users’ data center networks and revolutionizes the foundations of network and security operations. There are a number of use cases, including:

    • Containers - Similar to VMs, users can offer unified, full-stack networking and security for microservices and containerized apps. This includes the ability to micro-segment, use container networking for Kubernetes, and offers complete visibility for microservices.
    • App Delivery - Users can deliver infrastructure as code while also accelerating app delivery with blueprints that can automate the management of security and networking resources.
    • Security - With zero-trust security in public and private cloud environments, users can reduce attacks, lock down critical apps, and design a logical DMZ in software.
    • Load Balancing - Users can update their data centers from legacy load balancers to software load balancers and SDN automation, creating savings of over 50%.
    • Multi-Cloud - Expand networking across clouds and streamline multi-cloud operations with multi-cloud use cases, including rapid workload mobility, seamless data center extension, and multi-DC pooling.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Through a policy-driven approach, VMware NSX provides VMware technologies to assist with network and security visualization in a unified solution. Users particularly like the distributed firewall and the management dashboard.

    Kolawole O., a systems engineer at a tech services company, writes, "NSX's stand-out function is the distributed firewall. The firewall system is just top-notch, and I haven't seen another solution like it."

    A head of business development and partners management at a comms service provider notes, "I really like the management dashboard, the tailor-made assurance, the telemetry, and the ease of integration with all other solutions of VMware, such as vSphere."

    Learn more about Cisco ACI
    Learn more about VMware NSX
    Sample Customers
    Bowling Green State University, du, Qatar University
    City of Avondale, Lumeta, Kroll Ontrack, Heartland Payment Systems, Baystate Heallth, Exostar, Tribune Media, iGATE, NTT Communications, Synergent, California Natural Resources Agency, Bloomington Public Schools, Columbia Sportswear, Join Experience S.A, Schuberg Philis
    Top Industries
    Comms Service Provider19%
    Financial Services Firm16%
    Computer Software Company9%
    Comms Service Provider35%
    Computer Software Company19%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    Financial Services Firm19%
    Manufacturing Company13%
    Computer Software Company10%
    Comms Service Provider27%
    Computer Software Company23%
    Financial Services Firm7%
    Company Size
    Small Business16%
    Midsize Enterprise13%
    Large Enterprise71%
    Small Business15%
    Midsize Enterprise13%
    Large Enterprise72%
    Small Business29%
    Midsize Enterprise15%
    Large Enterprise56%
    Small Business17%
    Midsize Enterprise16%
    Large Enterprise67%
    Buyer's Guide
    Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX
    May 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX and other solutions. Updated: May 2022.
    608,713 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Cisco ACI is ranked 2nd in Network Virtualization with 10 reviews while VMware NSX is ranked 1st in Network Virtualization with 30 reviews. Cisco ACI is rated 8.0, while VMware NSX is rated 7.8. The top reviewer of Cisco ACI writes "Stable, scalable, and easy to manage". On the other hand, the top reviewer of VMware NSX writes "A flexible option for managing security, but setup is complex and documentation is lacking". Cisco ACI is most compared with Nuage Networks, whereas VMware NSX is most compared with Cisco Secure Workload, Nutanix Flow, Guardicore Centra, Illumio Adaptive Security Platform and Check Point CloudGuard Network Security. See our Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX report.

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    We monitor all Network Virtualization reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.