VMware Says Adios to the Chupacabra – Third Party Virtual Switches are Dead

Back in 2014, Steve Pantol and I published a book entitled Networking for VMware Administrators. In it, we discuss all sorts of physical and virtual networking topics, including one of my favorite passages (credit to Steve) where we were the first to publicly state that no one had ever used the IBM Distributed Virtual Switch 5000V:

You’ll see this “Chupacabra” theme repeat itself across two more major presentations at VMworld during the VDS Deep Dive with my co-presenter, Jason Nash. Here’s the 2014 session on the VDS 5.5 (and the deck) and the 2015 session on the VDS 6.0. The primary takeaway? VMware strongly recommends ditching any usage of a 3rd party switch. We even highlight this by showing the End of Availability details on the Cisco Nexus 1000V. Specifically the “VMware recommends that the Nexus 1000V users move to the VMware vSphere Distributed Switch” part. See the clip below:

So, it’s really no shock to anyone that two years later, VMware has officially stopped supporting third party switches.

Moving forward, VMware will have a single virtual switch strategy that focuses on two sets of native virtual switch offerings – VMware vSphere® Standard Switch and vSphere Distributed Switch™ for VMware vSphere, and the Open virtual switch (OVS). This strategy is about investing in the priorities of our customers and simplifying the platform to create the best, most secure experience possible.

In reality, there was ever only one: the Cisco Nexus 1000v. It was clunky, caused a ton of dependency headaches, and was really only there to fill a few feature gaps that were present in the VDS 4.x and early VDS 5.x days. Plus, some switch jockeys really wanted it to maintain a familiar CLI-level control over layer 2 hypervisor switching for … some reason? I’m not entirely sure. I say this from the perspective of someone who had to install, configure, troubleshoot, and remove the 1000v for literally years. It is very sad panda.


Rejoice, virtualization administrators! If you have always wanted to remove this virtual switching boat anchor off your ESXi hosts, you now have the ammo to do so! Throw off your networking shackles and embrace the light that is the vSphere Distributed Switch 6.5. It’s a really awesome layer 2 switch.

Know that beyond vSphere 6.5 Update 1, and any major release beyond vSphere 6.5 itself, there won’t even be a third party vSwitch API and your Nexus 1000v will crash and burn. Plan for the migration now! 🙂