The NSX Roadblock

I’m a little frustrated!

When VMware announced that their Network Virtualization acquisition Nicira (rebranded NSX) was officially GA at VMWorld 2013 most had a very real use case in applying the benefits of compute virtualization and apply that to the network stack. This was even more the case for people like myself who work for IaaS Service Providers and have experienced frustration at the length of time it takes to provision a network compared with the time is now takes to provision a Virtual Machine.

The clear message at VMWorld was that it was ready for action…But straight away there was mystery around its actual general availability and cost. Fast forward 6 or so months and it has been apparent that while VMware has been building their NSBU by expanding global/local teams there is still a level of uncertainty as to how you actually get your hands on NSX…and what that will cost you.

The answer to that question is that for the moment, you need to engage with you local VMware NSBU Team and participate in a paid PoC which in turn should lead to the purchase of NSX via perpetual licenses (no VSPP yet) of which their appears to be a significant minimum commitment. Part of that PoC/Purchase is deep dive training but there is no money back scenario for the PoC…

Apart from the VMware Hands On Labs, there is absolutely no other way to get your hands on NSX to tinker with. That seems crazy to me…its certainly unique in the VMware world to not be able to trial a product before purchase and while I understand (and have been told) the reasons why there are so many hoops to jump through to get NSX, it has seriously grinded my gears to the point where I question just where VMware wants NSX to succeed?

If you are a large enterprise or telco with hundreds of thousands of R&D budget at your disposal you might not think twice about paid PoCs and minimum commitments…one of NSXs main selling points is the level of efficiency it should generate once implemented…what used to take four Network Engineers to manage and operate now can be done by just one. In this case it’s a relative no brainer.

When it comes to Service Providers though, we are cut from a slightly different cloth…In purchasing a product, we need to be able to work out if that product can be monetized in any way. Because of the nature of recurring revenue SPs need validation that a product will generate dollars or drive operational efficiency…and in all cases we need to be able to verify that the product will do what it claims it can do. That means putting it through testing and validation as it directly relates to the production environment, generally in simulated lab versions of prod…at the moment that is impossible with NSX without committing to an upfront dollar amount.

We can do all the Hands On Labs, and read all the online materials: http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/products/nsx/vmw-nsx-network-virtualization-design-guide.pdf But that still won’t let Network and Virtualization guys get real hands on experience with the product and get to experience its features and limitations as it relates to their specific platforms.

So there lies the roadblock…

I feel that VMware is locking out an important segment of the market here with the current NSX go to market…While it might be different in other areas of the world, in ANZ/APJ Service Providers need to be considered as use cases for a different approach to getting NSX out there and central to IaaS Operations.

I’m very interested in comment on this, so please Tweet @anthonyspiteri  or contact below with your thoughts…if I am completely off the mark here, please let me know.


9 thoughts on “The NSX Roadblock

  1. Totally with you on this; it seems strange that they’re treating this product so differently. One of the justifications I’ve been given for the paid PoC requirement is that they’re concerned about license keys being leaked and pirated by other vendors…. which just seems bizarre to me.

    Super excited about getting my hands on some of this technology and running it up in the lab!

    1. there should be enough trust from VMware (specific to NSX) to allows partners to have some level of access to the software to evaluate under their own steam without any commitment or strings attached. If NDA’s need to be signed than that is certainly one way to control the IP.

  2. I am with you! Perhaps I would have a different opinion if VMware had announced that NSX was “generally” available ONLY as long as VMware’s NSBU maintains absolute control of the product and deployment. I have customers who think the reason for all of this is simple: the product is not ready for prime time and requires VMware only secrets for the product to work. I doubt that is the case, but if all you can get is a carefully scoped and orchestrated PoC with VMware holding the keys, then maybe it is true.

  3. Anthony,

    I share your frustration with the release of VMware NSX to the partner ecosystem. I attempted to get access to VMware NSX 6 months ago, only to be turned down. There would be no NSX for partners, unless there is a paying customer and knowledge would be transfered via Professional Services to the customer & partner.

    We are now 6 months later and only now a few select people are admitted to some special training.

    In the meantime I have seen lots of great titles to blogs and articles from the likes of Scott Lowe and Brad Hedlund, that I’m not even bothering to read, as I know that once I read them I want to play with NSX.

    There are now also VMware Partners getting products ready to work with VMware NSX such as TrendMicro and Palo Alto. I had to to cool some internal sales managers and representatives from these two companies… don’t bother with the NSX integration, we will not start before 2015 with these products, as the NSX track didn’t pan out earlier.

    VMware needs to get traction with their partners if they plan to successfully place NSX at their end customers (and I’m not talking about the 3 great american banks and the large cloud vendors).

    Sales cycles take time, a lot of time, much more than people expect, and you need partners that are involved and competent on these technologies. At the rate this is going, I don’t think VMware will earn a large revenue stream from NSX before 2016-2017.

    Hope this helps a bit,

  4. NSX Vision: Validated! http://blogs.vmware.com/vmware/2014/04/nsx-vision-validated.html

    This post from Chris Wolf just came out and this comment raised my eyebrows in a good way!:

    “Like I’ve said before, automation should be a feature, not a professional service. Building a true software-defined data center, where value is derived through software will let you continue to safely automate more and more, while maintaining hardware and provider independence and lowering costs.”

    For me it kinda goes against the go to market NSBU currently operates under???

  5. I’ve got some thoughts about this. I remember when i was independent in the previous decade there were a number of products that weren’t freely available to download and evaluate – they were only available as part of PoC. I’m thinking of things like Capacity Planner and P2V Version2.0.

    So I think there is precedent for the fact that some products are not just downloadable and usable for 60-days.

    I also think that there were probably good reasons for the above. In so far that if a customer just download these products and used them – they might not work or deliver a poor experience. Whether we like it or not customers are often shaped by that first experience – so if it isn’t a great/easy one straight out of the box – they might foolish dismiss it as ‘not ready’.

    Perhaps NSX fits into this – in this way. Given the complexity of most peoples networks, and the fact the larger the customer the great the complexity – if those customers just download the product they might make mistakes or assumptions that cause problems later down the track…

    1. No doubting there is some level of product protection going on here at the moment with NSX. As I’ve mentioned in other posts VMware have had some product issues/failures in the last couple years (Project Octopus comes to mind along with SSO 5.1) ..and myself, along with other vCloud SP’s understand that this can’t happen with NSX.

      However, there should be no issue with allowing trusted Partners (outside of the NSX Elite Program) access to NSX to put it through it’s paces as it related to their specific environments.

      We now know that the product has been released to people in certain cases…be it part of the Advanced Training or Elite Program…that needs to be extended to include trusted and capable partners.

  6. VMware is turning away business. We were totally ready to take a look at it for our environment, but without being able to actually trial it, it’s not going to happen and we will probably be forced to look elsewhere. It’s unfortunate that VMware is keeping NSX behind closed doors. And yes they will offer a PoC, however it will be either a paid engagement or they will want to do the driving and babysitting, and not let you actually perform your own tests. Again, very unfortunate, even for trying it in a home lab even. It brings some awesome capabilities but without being able to kick the tires on it before we invest $5K per processor for NSX licensing, they need to offer a way for us to try it in our OWN environment.

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