Originally posted at vcdx133.com.
This post provides a Tech101 breakdown of VMware NSX. If you have heard the buzz-word “NSX” or “Network Virtualisation” and want to learn more about it, this post is for you.
VMware NSX has two distinct variants – NSX for vSphere (NSX-v) and NSX Multi-Hypervisor (NSX-MH). The most feature rich version is NSX-v (as you would expect) and the most flexible and vendor agnostic is NSX-MH (albeit with less features). Currently these are separate binaries that you download and deploy, however there is talk that in the future it will be a single binary set with a V/MH software setting during deployment.
A little bit of history will also clarify things. VMware acquired Nicira in 2012 and integrated/developed the NSX product suite by combining VMware’s vCNS (aka vShield Edge and App) with Nicira’s NVP. So if you understand vShield, it will give you a good start to mastering NSX.
The diagram below illustrates the NSX architecture, complete with physical infrastructure. Note, storage virtualisation has been deliberately left out of the diagram since it is not in-scope. The “P2V” lines denote the possible NSX overlay to physical network integrations.
NSX for vSphere (NSX-v)
NSX-v has the following components:
What are L2 to L7 services? VLAN, VXLAN tunnels, Network Firewall, IPS, Application Firewall, NAT, Routing (OSPF, BGP, IS-IS), Load Balancing, SSL VPN, IPSec VPN, Route redistribution, etc.
NSX for Multi-Hypervisor (NSX-MH)
The NSX-MH has the same functional components, except it uses Open vSwitch (instead of vDS) with KVM, Hyper-V or XenServer and does not have a Distributed Firewall (no micro-segmentation).
Why do it this way?
You may have heard about the “Goldilocks zone” (not too hot, not too cold, just right – used to describe Earth’s placement in the solar system for sustaining life). The hypervisor is the “Goldilocks zone” of the Data Center, it is the natural meeting place for the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) – Compute, Network and Storage.
If you understand the benefits of server virtualisation with vSphere (abstraction of the Operating System from the hardware, etc.), you can apply the same logic to network virtualisation. There is also the driving force of creating blueprints within the Service Catalogue of the Cloud Management Platform and linking polices (compute, network, storage and security) to the blueprint.