Cisco ACI vs VMware NSX About all of those numbers…
“There’s a little bit of inflation in some of the numbers for both just because of the way that they package them,” Lerner says.
The common perception is that Cisco “throws in” ACI whenever it does a Nexus 9000 switch deal, but Lerner says that ACI is “definitely a fee pay.” According to Lerner, abut one-third of the Nexus 9000 refresh deals include ACI.
“So a paying customer has made a conscious choice to pay for ACI,” Lerner says.
“This stuff is not being given away,” D’Agostino says. “Customers are investing in it because they’re getting dramatic benefits.”
Cisco has a captive audience to some extent, Lerner says. On the one hand, some Cisco networking customers don’t want to try new technologies, but on the other, they don’t want to have to pay later for upgrades. The first dynamic pulls customers away from ACI, while the second pulls ACI in, Lerner says. For Cisco, both are relatively naturalized.
VMware’s Casado says NSX is a standalone product that’s not part of a bundle. Once a sale is made, NSX could be included as part of an enterprise license agreement (ELA), which is a procurement vehicle. But the NSX part of the deal is sold separately, regardless of the procurement mechanism.
“It’s a little different for NSX,” Lerner says. “They [VMware] can go in and sell specific use cases. They can sell faster provisioning in the data center, or they can sell microsegmentation.”
Casado says that NSX is an independent line item, and that NSX sales can come from other budgets such as networking or security. “When people buy it, they’re spending incremental dollars,” he says.
Lerner says that while skeptics contend that the ELAs create a lot of shelfware for NSX, he hasn’t seen it happen. He says that in his experience, customers that sign ELAs try to remove superfluous items from a deal.
There is always a degree of shelfware whenever a new product or technology is launched, Lerner says, but he’s not so skeptical about Cisco and VMware’s public numbers when it comes to ACI and NSX.
“I think the customers who have bought this stuff so far are relatively knowledgeable customers that know what they are paying for,” he says. “I don’t think the shelfware is quite as bad as the general press and media think.”