I keep hearing colleagues talking about how VMWare's vSwitch and Cisco Nexus 1k switches are analogous. Can someone tell me how they are similar? And which is better among the two for a data center deployment?
This depends on what license tier of VMware you have (it requires vSphere Enterprise Plus), what version level and what you're planning to do with it. Can you provide more details about the environment?
Obviously, most VMware deployments don't have Cisco Nexus 1k switches, as it's an add-on and not part of the base package. So people definitely get by without it. I've never needed to deploy the Nexus 1000. But in some environments, it make make sense from a management perspective. Try to provide some context.
There is a free tier of the Nexus 1000v available now, but again, it requires the top tier of vSphere licensing. But at that licensing tier, chances are that you're going to be more reliant on VMware distributed switches...