Cisco ACI vs NSX: Difference and Comparison

At this time, the industries are advancing towards the solutions which are cloud-based and networks that are Software-Defined; meanwhile, abundant vendors are leading the market with their unparalleled capabilities, features, and potential on solutions based on Software-defined and Cloud-based.

Cisco and VMware are two of many existing leading domains in the market that emphasize the network designs that are Software-Defined and infrastructure.

The solution produced by Cisco is popularly called ACI, whose full form can be written as Application Centric Infrastructure.

However, the solution produced by VMware is popularly known as NSX, which is based on security software and Virtual networking.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) is a proprietary software-defined networking solution that manages centralized network infrastructure. At the same time, NSX (Network Virtualization and Security) is a VMware product that provides network virtualization and security services.
  2. ACI is designed for Cisco hardware, while NSX is hardware-agnostic and can be used with any vendor’s hardware.
  3. ACI focuses on application policies and automation, while NSX emphasizes security and micro-segmentation.

Cisco ACI vs NSX

The difference between Cisco ACI vs NSX is that several device packages can be written for the APIC controller, and in the case of Cisco ACI, advanced network services such as ACI L4 to L7 can be performed using the open SDK. However, From NSX L4 to L7, Vmware NSX’s advanced network services are strictly regulated and operated via a closed API.

Cisco ACI vs NSX

Cisco ACI can automate and manage virtual networks or VNAs. Cisco ACI can automate a physical network. If Cisco ACI is used, the fabric can be directly connected to the Legacy Network and vice versa.

However, the conventional multi-chassis, LACP, can also be employed. When using the typical multi-chassis LACP, Cisco ACI convergence is commonly divided into seconds.

Virtual Networks can be perfectly automated and managed with VMware NSX. Vmware’s NSX is unable to automate or manage the physical network.

Software gateways that run on ESXi and are L2-based must be utilised to operate the Legacy Network. A user who uses VMware NSX may encounter sluggish convergence.

In the case of Vmware NSX, the installation of East-West Routing can be done via Hypervisor.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCisco ACINSX
Virtual network automationCan automateCan not automate
Physical Network automationCan automateCan not automate
Convergence typeSub-second convergenceSlow convergence
Network availabilitySub-second convergenceSlow convergence and network availability
Advanced network servicesBy developing a device package Subjected to licensing and closed API

What is Cisco ACI?

Virtual networks, or VNAs, can be automated and managed with Cisco ACI. A physical network can be automated with Cisco ACI.

The fabric can be directly connected to the Legacy Network and vice versa if Cisco ACI is employed. However, the traditional multi-chassis, LACP, can be used as well.

Cisco ACI convergence is often divided into seconds when using the standard multi-chassis LACP. Cisco ACI’s implementation of North-South and East-West routing is connected to the Fabric regardless of the workload.

In Cisco ACI, the Sub-second kind of convergence is performed in the event of node, link, or network unavailability. Several device packages can be written for the APIC controller, and advanced network functions such as ACI L4 to L7 in the case of Cisco ACI can be performed using the open SDK.

What is NSX?

Vmware NSX is capable of automating and managing Virtual Networks to perfection. Vmware’s NSX cannot manage or automate the physical network. Software gateways that can run on ESXI and are L2 based must be utilised to operate the Legacy Network.

If a user is utilising VMware NSX, he or she may encounter a slow convergence process. In the case of Vmware NSX, the implementation of East-West Routing can be run on a Hypervisor.

It can be accomplished by installing or distributing an additional logical control VM per IP domain.

In Vmware NSX, the installation of bridging and routing services on VMs frequently results in sluggish convergence as well as network availability.

From NSX L4 through L7, the advanced network services of Vmware NSX are strictly regulated and operated through a closed API.

Main Differences Between Cisco ACI and NSX

  1. Cisco ACI possesses the potential of automating and managing Virtual Network or VNA. On the other hand, Vmware NSX can automate and manage the Virtual Networks in a perfect way.
  2. Cisco ACI is capable of automating the Physical Network. On the other hand, the NSX by Vmware does not possess the capacity to automate or manage the Physical Network.
  3. Incase of Cisco ACI, the fabric can be connected to the Legacy Network directly and vice versa. However, LACP, the standard multi-chassis, can be used as well. On the other hand, to operate Legacy Network, software gateways that can run on ESXI and are L2 based must be used.
  4. When the standard multi-chassis LACP is used, then the convergence of Cisco ACI is subdivided into seconds. On the other hand, if a user is using Vmware NSX, then it is possible that he or she can experience the process of slow convergence.
  5. The implementation of Routing in Cisco ACI as North-South and East-West is connected to the Fabric regardless of the workload. On the other hand, the implementation of East-West Routing in the case of Vmware NSX can be operated on Hypervisor. It can be done by adding or distributing an extra VM of logical control per domain of IP.
  6. In case of failures of Node, link or network unavailability in Cisco ACI, the Sub-second type of convergence is done. On the other hand, the implementation of bridging and routing services on VMs retain slow convergence in addition to network availability in Vmware NSX.
  7. Several device packages can be developed to APIC controller where along with open SDK, Advance network services like ACI L4 to L7 can be done in the case of Cisco ACI. On the other hand, the advanced network services of Vmware NSX are strictly subjected to licensing and are operated through closed API, from NSX L4 to L7.
References
  1. https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:956327
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Palash-Ijari/publication/314082881_Comparison_between_Cisco_ACI_and_VMWARE_NSX/links/5c127c74299bf139c756b2dc/Comparison-between-Cisco-ACI-and-VMWARE-NSX.pdf
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