Yes, you could certainly do this at a technical level. NSX has very limited integration with the underlay network and provided that the ACI platform is configured in a specific and limited way, you certainly could run both.
No, you would not do this as a business level because of the cost.
- NSX licenses sell for around $4000 per CPU socket. 2 sockets is standards so $8000 per server.
- ACI cost about $5000 per physical server excluding cost of AVS/NX1K virtual switch licenses (lots of variables here, but this is my rule of thumb for rough budgeting and on-the-street pricing, watch out for support cost. You aren’t using NX1KV if you have NSX, $8000 per server if you are into that)
- Roughly $7500 for an average branded virtualization server (lots more variable)
- VMware ESX (vSphere Enterprise Plus) licenses at $2000 per socket, or $4000 per server
Total cost $8000 + $5000 + $7500 + $4000 = approx $25000 for a single Enterprise server.
Keep in mind that the ACI/NSX cost is roughly 50% of the total server cost here. Thats the “value proposition” that this type of SDN has to overcome inside the enterprise when the current networking strategy works OK and budgets are flat.
Customer takes the risk of improving productivity and operation (and reducing operational costs) against the certainty of increased spending for CapEx & OpEx by putting money into the vendors pockets for their products.
It is hard for the CIO/Network Architect to believe vendor sales claims of increased SDN productivity and lower-risk change when the overt increase in the bottom line cost is so substantial. Plus the hidden extra costs of maintenance & support have large impacts on OpEx budgets.
The EtherealMind View
So, sure, you COULD run NSX and ACI in the same network. No, you WOULD NOT run NSX and ACI in the same network.
Most likely you won’t run either product today because of the additional cost and uncertain benefits you might gain from SDN.
Your mileage may vary.
PS: Read the comments on Brad Hedlunds post On choosing VMware NSX or Cisco ACI (skip the article, it’s marketing double speak that has no value) which neatly identifies many of the limitations in the VMware NSX product. For fairness, Cisco ACI has the same limitations with the policy engine being very limited today. (I’m sure both companies are making promises to solve the limitations and maybe even working on them).