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.