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NSX-T is the next-generation network virtualization solution from VMware. It offers great new features that enable your business to successfully virtualize key networking components. In addition, it adds a great deal of flexibility and agility to network provisioning. NSX-T is built on newer architecture that provides a much more open platform for virtualizing your network, even without reliance on VMware vSphere.
This is a huge departure from the NSX-V requirements, as NSX-V is built only around the VMware vSphere architecture. Deploying NSX-T is even simpler than NSX-V from a virtual appliance perspective. VMware has combined both the NSX Manager and the NSX Controller roles into a single virtual appliance that can be run in a cluster configuration. Let's take a look at how to deploy the NSX-T Manager, the first required NSX-T component. First, we will look at the role of the NSX Manager in NSX-T.
What is the role of the NSX-T Manager? ^
When you begin to deploy the NSX-T network virtualization solution from VMware, you first deploy the NSX-T Manager. The NSX-T Manager serves a vital role for the NSX-T solution. It is the both the management plane and the control plane for NSX-T. VMware made a beneficial change in architecture with the NSX-T Manager in combining the NSX-T Manager with the NSX-T Controller role. This new combined appliance allows installing both these roles in one fell swoop.
Prior to NSX-T 2.4, it was necessary to install the NSX-T Manager and then also provision the NSX-T Controller nodes. This new change simplifies the virtual appliance layout, as you can now implement both roles with a cluster of three Manager appliances for high availability.
As the management plane for NSX-T, the NSX-T Manager provides the graphical user interface for interacting with NSX-T as well as the RESTful APIs that are required for automation purposes, to create, configure, and monitor the NSX-T.
In addition to the above-mentioned features, it provides the configuration and orchestration of the following:
- Logical switching and routing
- Edge services functionality
- Distributed firewall and other security services
The NSX-T Manager provides a single interface for all third-party hooks into NSX-T and coordinates their installation and configuration. In addition to these services, it allows policy-based service chaining, context sharing, and inter-service event handling.
Each transport node has a special management plane agent that is installed from the NSX-T Manager. The management plane agent is responsible for managing the configuration, statistics, and real-time data between each transport node and the NSX-T manager.
Deploying the NSX-T Manager Appliance ^
To get up and running with the NSX-T Management and Control plane, we need to install the NSX-T Manager combined appliance. First, download the appliance OVA from VMware. The appliance download is fairly large. As you can see below, the download for NSX-T Data Center Manager 2.5 for VMware vSphere at the time of this writing is 8.25 GB.
In the following walkthrough, we will be deploying the NSX Manager into VMware vSphere. To do so, we will follow the standard process for deploying an OVA appliance into vSphere using the vSphere Client.
On the first screen, choose the OVA file you downloaded for the NSX-T Manager.
On the Select a name and folder screen, enter the Virtual machine name. In VMware vSphere, this is the name that will appear in the inventory of your virtual machines.
Choose the compute resource for the NSX-T Manager appliance. For high availability, be sure to choose a vSphere cluster as this will protect the NSX-T Manager from a failed host. In addition to running the NSX-T Manager appliance on a vSphere cluster, you will want to deploy a three-node cluster of NSX-T Manager appliances; this is easily accomplished in the NSX-T Manager interface.
The Review details step has you review the details of the initial OVA deployment.
The Configuration page allows you to Select a deployment configuration. This comprises selecting the configured NSX-T Manager VM size in terms of resources to be allocated to the deployed VM. As you can see below, the Small configuration has:
- 4 vCPUs
- 16 GB RAM
- 200 GB Storage
Note the ExtraSmall configuration can only be used for the Cloud services manager.
Select the vSphere storage container to be used for storing the NSX-T Manager VM virtual disk files.
On the Select networks screen, choose the destination network for the OVA appliance's source network. This page has you select the "network label" or portgroup in a vSphere environment.
Perhaps the most important screen in the NSX-T Manager appliance deployment wizard is the Customize template screen. This screen enables setting a number of configuration parameters, including:
- Passwords for root, CLI, etc.
- Network address, gateway, DNS server addresses
- SSH options
- Root login allow options
One important configuration option on the Customize template screen is Rolename. Using the dropdown box, you can select:
- Nsx-manager nsx-controller
After verifying your selections and configuration on the Customize template screen, move to the Ready to complete screen. Review the configuration and click Finish.
Initial Configuration of the NSX-T Manager ^
After the deployment of the NSX-T Manager is complete, you are ready to browse to the NSX-T Manager's IP/DNS name. Once you log in to the web interface of the NSX-T Manager with the credentials configured on the Customize template page, a couple of boxes are displayed – the EULA and the CEIP opt-in.
One of the nice things about the NSX-T Manager interface is that it guides you in the workflow of tasks to be accomplished. Additionally, as you can see in the Welcome to NSX-T splash screen, you are encouraged to deploy three NSX-T Manager appliances if you have not already done so.
The Get Started button takes you to the Getting Started page, which walks you through the initial configuration steps such as setting up transport nodes and other components.
After you click the Get Started button, you are redirected to the System > Get Started page. The NSX-T Manager interface lays out the steps required to configure your NSX-T environment. These include configuring:
- NSX hosts
- NSX edges
- Transport zones
- Uplink profiles
Concluding thoughts ^
Getting started with NSX-T is a matter of simply deploying the NSX-T Manager appliance. The NSX-T Manager serves multiple roles, including the management and control plane of the NSX-T infrastructure. The new combined appliance helps to simplify the layout of the virtual appliances required for the solution.
Deploying the appliance is as simple as deploying the NSX-T Manager OVA file. After you deploy the appliance, you can browse to the web interface and begin with the “Get Started” workflow, which guides you through the initial configuration of the NSX-T solution.