Cisco outpacing VMware 2:1 in SDN

But only 15% of combined customers are using ACI and NSX in production mode

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The most recent customer figures for the two leading SDN offerings – Cisco’s ACI and VMware’s NSX – indicate that ACI is currently outpacing NSX by about 2:1. Cisco just announced its 1,000th ACI customer while VMware is currently holding fast to the 700+ NSX customer figure announced last summer.

While the figures themselves are not quite 2:1, the trajectory should reflect that NSX began shipping eight to 10 months before ACI, which started shipping in August 2014. So ACI is adding about 71 customers per month vs. 29-32 for NSX.

But production deployments are a fraction of the combined installed base. Only 15% of the 1,700 ACI/NSX users are implementing the products in production mode: 150 for ACI, according to Cisco, and 100 for NSX. VMware says it is adding 25 to 50 production customers per quarter, however. Cisco says production use is low because the market is so young -- less than two years old for ACI and NSX -- and testing and budgeting cycles can be long.

Says Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner:

Based on what we’re seeing from clients in terms of adoption, ACI is currently outpacing NSX by a pretty substantial clip. This is confirmed by publicly reported information from the vendors… VMware NSX was GA roughly a year before Cisco, so the outpacing we are seeing from clients is clearly reflected in these numbers. We see VMware inserting NSX into the enterprise around specific use-cases (Micro-segmentation, SDDC/agility). Meanwhile, we observe Cisco using data center network refresh as the primary insertion point, and they have a massive installation to leverage. So at this point, we see ACI outpacing NSX, but again, it is very early in the market. I would anticipate that VMware is very aware of this, and will be looking to address this moving forward, via multiple avenues including additional use-cases.

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