Overnight there was a couple of NSX related events that took place…one was expected and one not so much. I have known about the next release of NSX code named Transformers going back to VMworld last year where I attended a couple of NDA sessions…What I wasn’t expecting was the announcement of separate licensing tiers for NSX-V which is detailed in this KB and this landing page.

Transformers – NSX-MH:

Before going into my thoughts around the features options that come with each licensing tier the release of NSX Transformers 1.0 represents a fundamental shift in the way that NSX is released in that it now is the one code base that unifies NSX-MH and NSX-V. For the moment though the 1.0 release which was available earlier in the day is only for current MH customers and we probably shouldn’t expect any release for V customers for a while…and when that drops it will be interesting to see the upgrade path and product interoprabilites.

NSX-V Edition Thoughts:

Going back to the new pricing its clear to me that this is aimed at trying to keep the momentum going for the NSBU and try to entice the market to a lower entry point, however going through the edition feature matrix I’m left a little confused at some of the choices especially for those who are looking to replace vCloud Networking and Security editions that’s set to be end of lifed later this year. (click here for details on that)

  • NSX Standard Edition – For organizations needing agility and automation of the network.
  • NSX Advanced Edition – For organizations needing Standard, plus a fundamentally more secure data center with micro-segmentation.
  • NSX Enterprise Edition – For organizations needing Advanced, plus networking and security across multiple domains.

VMware have increased the cost of the full featured Enterprise edition which existing customers have while creating the Standard and Advanced editions. Where previously the list (USD) for NSX was $5,996 per Socket the new editions come in at $1,995, $4,995 and $6,995 per Socket. The Standard edition is well priced but taking a look through the Matrix in the official KB you are getting an extremely slimmed down version of NSX…short of the bells and whistles that make it the awesome SDN platform that it is, however I’m sure the feature set will be attractive for some.

For existing customers, as stated in the FAQ

Customers with active support contracts who have purchased NSX prior to the new licensing model goes into effect in May, 2016 will be entitled to the same functionality in the Enterprise offering.

vCNS Edition Match:

Looking at the current functionality of vCNS and then trying to match it to the available functions in each edition as per the KB there doesn’t seem to me to be a perfect fit except for the Enterprise Edition…which isn’t what those looking to upgrade from vCNS want to hear. The new NSX-V Standard Edition doesn’t include VPN, SSLVPN or Load Balancing functionality, though it does include the third party integration which I suspect would represent a large part of the current vCNS users that are not Service Providers.

Feature Standard Advanced Enterprise
Hypervisors Supported      
ESXi 5.5 Yes Yes Yes
ESXi 6.0 Yes Yes Yes
vCenter 5.5 Yes Yes Yes
vCenter 6.0 Yes Yes Yes
Switching Encapsulation Format      
VXLAN Yes Yes Yes
Replication Mode for VXLAN      
Multicast Yes Yes Yes
Edge Routing (N-S)      
Edge Routing Static – IPv4 Yes Yes Yes
Edge Routing Static – IPv6 Yes Yes Yes
DHCP Relay Yes Yes Yes
VLAN Trunk (sub-interface) support Yes Yes Yes
NAT Support for NSX Edge      
NAT Support for NSX Edge Yes Yes Yes
Source NAT Yes Yes Yes
Destination NAT Yes Yes Yes
DHCP Server Yes Yes Yes
DHCP Relay Yes Yes Yes
DNS Relay Yes Yes Yes
Edge Firewall      
Edge Firewall Yes Yes Yes
Edge High-Availability Yes Yes Yes
Third Party Integration      
Endpoint Service Insertion – Guest Introspection Yes Yes Yes 
Public API based Integration Yes Yes  Yes
Edge Load-Balancing      
TCP (L4 – L7) No Yes Yes
HTTP No Yes Yes
HTTPS (Pass-through) No Yes Yes
LB Methods No Yes Yes
Round Robin No Yes Yes
Src IP Hash No Yes Yes
Least Connection No Yes Yes
Health Checks
TCP No Yes Yes
HTTP No Yes Yes
HTTPS No Yes Yes

What about the vCAN and Service Provider Pricing?:

At this point in time I haven’t heard through any official channels of changes to the NSX Bundle options that come with the vCAN Program and I don’t really expect any changes to what currently exists for SP consumption of NSX as anything but the full Enterprise feature list would be required for SPs to take full advantage of NSX.

Final Thoughts:

Time will tell if these changes lead to greater uptake of non Enterprise or Service provider customers. One thing is forsure…VMware are without question needing NSX to be a success and I’ve got no doubt that with what currently exists in addition to what’s coming in future releases NSX will continue to gain market penetration and be the defacto SDN platform going round.