Tuesday, June 11, 2019

VMware NSX vs Cisco ACI and the need for Visibility

Over the past few years Cisco ACI and VMware NSX have been pitted against one another in the matchup for dominance within Software Defined Networking. However, that’s generally not the case, and they can effectively work alongside with each other.

Before we dig into why or how each of these products will benefit our organizations, let’s talk a little about the need for SDN.

Before SDN and Traditional Networking

In traditional networking we rely heavily on physical hardware devices such as routers, switches and firewalls. Network configurations and rules are set on these individual physical devices and the traffic flow is propagated using these rules and regulations.

However, over the past few years the number of devices on networks have quadrupled. For every person, there are a minimum of 4 devices that are connected to the network. Moreover, with Virtualization, Cloud and VDI technologies networks have grown massively which has caused complexity in managing and administering these networks. It is no longer sustainable for network engineers to connect to each switch or router and make configuration changes. Moreover, if the network administrator has devices from different vendors (Cisco, Juniper, Arista), each with their own management interface and CLI’s become more susceptible to errors.

How does SDN help?

The goal of SDN is to help provide a command center for a network administrator by helping them manage and administer the network through a single point. When an administrator needs to provision additional capacity, VLAN’s or create additional rules, it can be done centrally without having to connect to multiple devices.

Now back to Cisco ACI vs VMware NSX

Really depends on the organization. Sometimes having both could be the answer!

-       VMware NSX – If your organization is heavily virtualized, NSX is the way to go. It is agnostic to the underlying network and the user can configure logical switches, routers, load balancers with a single click. NSX simply requires IP connectivity.
-       Cisco ACI – If your organization is physical heavy Cisco ACI may be the way to go. ACI mainly comprises of the Cisco 9K switches which use the Leaf-Spine architecture which makes it preferable for Eas-West traffic.

In a lot of recent cases, it has been observed organizations prefer to have both, ACI for their physical deployments as well as NSX their virtual side. Having 2 different vendors can cause visibility issues and a central tool like Uila is necessary for monitoring these environments and providing bottlenecks.

Uila can deploy virtual taps on the virtual infrastructure to monitor all the traffic flow through NSX, identify about 3000+ application right out of the box and show the bottlenecks that appear within the virtual network.

Moreover, Uila can also connect these VM’s to their underlying “Top of Rack” switch and identify any physical bottlenecks.

True visibility only exists when you’re able to associate all the traffic together and provide a single pane of glass view for the both the underlay and overlay network to understand what’s happening in the physical and virtual environment.

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VMware NSX vs Cisco ACI and the need for Visibility

Over the past few years Cisco ACI and VMware NSX have been pitted against one another in the matchup for dominance within ...