Compare Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX

Cisco ACI is ranked 2nd in Network Virtualization with 64 reviews while VMware NSX is ranked 1st in Network Virtualization with 19 reviews. Cisco ACI is rated 8.0, while VMware NSX is rated 8.0. The top reviewer of Cisco ACI writes "Provides integration with VMM domains and their L4 and L7 devices, like device packages for F5, Palo Alto, and ASA". On the other hand, the top reviewer of VMware NSX writes "Enables us to identify problems before they manifest, but they should develop more advanced features". Cisco ACI is most compared with VMware NSX, Cisco DNA Virtualization and Cisco APIC-EM, whereas VMware NSX is most compared with Cisco ACI, Cisco Tetration and Nutanix Flow. See our Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX report.
You must select at least 2 products to compare!
Cisco ACI Logo
11,996 views|7,768 comparisons
VMware NSX Logo
23,819 views|15,072 comparisons
Most Helpful Review
Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX and other solutions. Updated: March 2020.
408,154 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members

We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use. Here are some excerpts of what they said:

The features we find most valuable is the integration with the virtual switches of our UCS platform.Centralized management and control of the entire data center environment and its architecture.The most valuable feature of Cisco ACI is that it is eay to manage. We can automate and it can be scripted. Virtual ACI is very good.We had different networks and combined them with ACI so we could have the control of one controller-based network. Also, everything is combined now.With ACI, if you need more capacity you can just buy more and plug them in without needing to do anything else. All of the sudden that infrastructure is there for me to use, configure, and add stuff to.This product improved the way our company functions by enabling us to establish our goal of moving to a zero-trust model. That's how Cisco ACI helps us the most.The most valuable features are the automation with the different systems for the software development and the ability to provision switches in hours rather than days.The most valuable feature of the solution is the Call Manager.

Read more »

The most valuable feature is the ability to create, develop, and deploy servers in minutes to hours, rather than days.It has reduced the number of people on the network team along with the system engineer involved in the security process. So, it is valuable.From a distributed firewall perspective, it's a solid solution.Their technical support is very good. They help us figure out solutions when we have problems.The initial setup was straightforward. It follows a certain structure and you won't miss a step. It's all on the same level, step by step.We like that everything is integrated.You can easily integrate this with other VMware products. It is a robust solution.The firewall is its most valuable feature.

Read more »

The initial setup was fairly complex and it looks terrifying when you first log in. That's one thing about ACI. It takes a bit to wrap your mind around how it works. It's not overly complicated once you understand the concepts, but someone who has never worked with anything like ACI, will initially find it difficult to grasp the complexity of it.We're still in the process of doing the migration. We haven't migrated completely all of our applications out of our legacy into it yet. It was challenging at first, but getting easier now that we're starting to get into it.They should make it easier for the network people to do automated solutions.Our company had a lot of issues with the starter kit.I would like to be able to test the upgrades in a simulation before implementing them in production because not everyone has a lab.In terms of improvement, I would like to see some sort of way to baseline the system in a network-centric fashion.It's a very complex system, as it should be. It's a new way of thinking about networking. Cisco ACI adds complexity. Cisco ACI is extremely complex. That's not necessarily a complaint, as much as it is a fact.The initial set up was complex. We had to deploy 120 leads. Migrating from Legacy Cisco network to ACI was complex.

Read more »

It could be cheaper!We would to have a reverse proxy. This would add great value to the solution.We would like better integration with the standards on the market. For example, with OSPF, their integration in NSX is very low. It's not a full OSPF integration. It is too thin from a protocol perspective.The initial establishment can be complex.I would like them to make integration with other vendors easier.The solution is complex but for the key user, it's not really complex. You just need to learn the standards and mechanics for your specific product.If you're worried that NSX is too complex, I would tell you to take another look. If you compare NSX to a similar solution you might find it to be a bit more complex. Usually, the guy that comes in to implement NSX isn't the network guy and will lack the knowledge for the program. He can lack the knowledge for this program and will therefore think it's complex. You need somebody with network experience.We would like tenant segmentation available in future releases.

Read more »

Pricing and Cost Advice
Once you sign for the start kit implementation, you have to go all the way through to the implementation, even if you are experiences issues.If you compare the licensing and total cost of ACI, it's cheaper than NSX because of the licensing fees. If you are going for full NSX features it will be too expensive, especially the next-generation firewalling feature.We don't use all of the features but it's still worth the money.It's expensive but the product is very good. I have never found another partner like Cisco with a solution like this and with great support.A big company can automate it themselves or spend a lot of money and buy it.We have saved time on the provisioning and configuration.We used Cisco Professional Services for the deployment. They were outstanding, but very expensive.Price is always an issue.

Read more »

We can't go without NSX, so it's invaluable from this perspective.The solution is very expensive.We haven't had to hire a dedicated network engineer because NSX handles 90 percent of it. The reduced overhead in terms of managing networks has been the biggest plus.We have saved man-hours and decreased our security exposure.

Read more »

Use our free recommendation engine to learn which Network Virtualization solutions are best for your needs.
408,154 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Answers from the Community
Miriam Tover
author avatarSr Network Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User

As per my understanding/view, if the company has workloads that are all virtualized and have a VMware hypervisor then it is advisable to use VMware NSX as it can give a lot of integration between VMware other components.

If the company has a mix of environments in terms of workload (physical + virtual) and a mix of hypervisors (VMware, Hyper-V, KVM ) then it is advisable to use Cisco ACI. Apart from these Cisco ACI can provide a lot of benefits to the network professionals as the fabric which is built with Cisco ACI has multiple benefits eg given below:
1) No spanning tree, No Layer 2 loops as it is Layer 3 Fabric
2) VXLAN Auto configuration by which the server can be placed anywhere in the data center
3) Unicast Routing
4) Multiple paths for traffic to traverse
5) Single point of configuration.
Overall, Cisco ACI provides a stable underlay platform for network professionals along with the benefit of automation and orchestration. The final decision is contingent on the company environment, type of workloads, and cost factor in order to decide which technology to go with; Cisco ACI, or VMware NSX.

author avatarDarkoJuric (Motorola)

I've been interested in both for a long time and two key differences for me were:
- Network (controller) overlay vs. host overlay solution (I trusted better network overlay)
- Cost - originally ACI deployment required higher end very expensive (Nexus 7K) platforms but that changed significantly with new Nexus 9K
models that are much less expensive now.

Average Words per Review
Avg. Rating
Average Words per Review
Avg. Rating
Top Comparisons
Compared 79% of the time.
Compared 6% of the time.
Compared 34% of the time.
Compared 11% of the time.
Compared 10% of the time.
Also Known As
VMware Nicira
Cisco Application-Centric Infrastructure (ACI) reduces TCO, automates IT tasks, and accelerates data center application deployments. It accomplishes this using a business-relevant Software Defined Networking (SDN) policy model across networks, servers, storage, security, and services.VMware NSX is the network virtualization platform for the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). By bringing the operational model of a virtual machine to your data center network, you can transform the economics of network and security operations. NSX lets you treat your physical network as a pool of transport capacity, with network and security services attached to VMs with a policy-driven approach.
Learn more about Cisco ACI
Learn more about VMware NSX
Sample Customers
Bowling Green State University, du, Qatar UniversityCity of Avondale, Lumeta, Kroll Ontrack, Heartland Payment Systems, Baystate Heallth, Exostar, Tribune Media, iGATE, NTT Communications, Synergent, California Natural Resources Agency, Bloomington Public Schools, Columbia Sportswear, Join Experience S.A, Schuberg Philis
Top Industries
Comms Service Provider20%
Financial Services Firm19%
Healthcare Company7%
Software R&D Company31%
Comms Service Provider26%
Media Company7%
Comms Service Provider17%
Manufacturing Company17%
Software R&D Company37%
Comms Service Provider20%
Media Company4%
Company Size
Small Business13%
Midsize Enterprise14%
Large Enterprise74%
Small Business20%
Midsize Enterprise18%
Large Enterprise62%
Small Business23%
Midsize Enterprise19%
Large Enterprise58%
Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX and other solutions. Updated: March 2020.
408,154 professionals have used our research since 2012.
We monitor all Network Virtualization reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.