VMware NSX Deployment on a Lab Environment

I am trying out VMware NSX on a homelab and found a great guide from virten.net, from this link. Note that the guide is just to get started deploying NSX and not a comprehensive guide to fully explain the concepts. I have inserted some links/blogs that provide good resource to understand the concepts.

VMware NSX is the SDDC technology of the future. What ESX was once for Servers, NSX is now for Networks. I highly encourage everyone to make yourselves familiar with this technology. NSX with all its features is quite complex, but the entry point is quite simple and requires only basic vSphere and networking skills. This beginners guide explains how to deploy NSX in your homelab even with limited physical ressources by downsizing NSX Manager and NSX Controller VMs. The guide starts at zero and quickly explains how to deploy NSX and connect your first Virtual Machine to a VXLAN based logical switch that is able to communicate to the physical world through an NSX Edge Gateway.

What do you need to create the Lab?

  • vCenter 6 with some physical ESXi Hosts
  • vSphere Distributed Switch (dvSwitch)
  • NSX Manager Appliance (Download: NSX 6.2.2)
  • There is no special physical Switch requirement

This guide is not intended as a comprehensive guide to fully understand all aspects of NSX. It’s just a quick deployment guide with some tweaks for low resource Homelabs.

Below are some demos:

 

NSX IP Pool Configuration:

Go to Networking & Security > Networking & Security Inventory > NSX Managers > Select the NSX Manager IP Address on the left pane > Manage > Grouping Objects > IP Pools

This is where to configure IP Pool (IP Address Range) for your NSX Controllers, VTEP, Guest Introspection VMs.

See this docs:

Create an IP Pool

 

NSX Controller Deployment:

See this docs:

NSX Controller

NSX Controller Cluster Architecture

Deploy NSX Controller Cluster

Note that there is an issue encountered, no IP assigned on NSX Controller, the workaround is described on this blog post.

 

NSX Host Preparation:

See this docs:

Prepare Host Clusters for NSX

 

NSX Logical Network Preparation:

See this blogs:

Logical Network Preparation and Transport Zone Setup

Fixing VTEPs and Building Logical Switches

 

NSX Guest Introspection Service Deployment:

See this docs:

Guest Introspection

Install Guest Introspection

 

Hope this helps to get an overview of NSX Deployment.

Free NSX Books: http://cloudmaniac.net/vmware-nsx-books/

 

To get a reference design guide, please check out VMware’s VVD Blueprints (VMware Validated Design) at this link.

VMware Validated Design for Micro-Segmentation

Architecture and Design

Planning and Preparation

Hope this helps 🙂

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4 comments

  1. what is the minimum physical requirements for this lab ( RAM, Hosts, CPU, )
    can i deploy all the above using one Server Nested ..thanks

    Like

    • Hi Khalil,

      Here are the core components:
      PSC: 2 vCPU, 4 GB RAM
      VCSA: 2 vCPU, 10 GB RAM
      NSX Manager: 4 vCPU, 8 GB RAM (downsized from 16 GB RAM)
      NSX Controller: 4 vCPU, 2 GB RAM (downsized from 4 GB RAM, one controller will work, but 3 minimum for production)
      virtual ESXi01: 2 vCPU, 8 GB RAM or more (RAM depends on the VM guest workload)
      virtual ESXi02: 2 vCPU, 8 GB RAM or more (RAM depends on the VM guest workload)
      Active Directory/DNS: 1 vCPU, 1 GB RAM
      FreeNAS: 1 vCPU, 4 GB RAM

      I originally use 2 gaming rig with below specs to have more allowance to build some other projects:

      CPU: Intel Core i7 6700
      RAM: 32 GB
      Disk: 240 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD

      CPU: Intel Core i7 6700
      RAM: 32 GB
      Disk: 480 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD

      This is because a gaming motherboard available to me has a max of 32 GB RAM (8 GB each x 4 slots).

      I have a blog post about my setup:
      https://vtechdummies.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/vmware-home-lab-quest/

      Hope this helps.

      Like

  2. i read your post , so you have installed Esxi bare metal in both rigs
    did you install VCSA from the DNS server ( assuming you used windows server)?

    is there disadvantage of the running the whole NSX lab on one Server ( installing Esxi on bare metal then nest all other components inside) ??

    why people using switch or multiple NIC cards on their Labs , can all features achieved on Nested Esxi using one PC??

    thanks again for your help..

    Like

    • Yes, I installed VCSA (mounted the ISO installer from DNS Server).

      I do not see any disadvantage of running the whole NSX lab on one physical server if you will use nested ESXi for NSX (provided you have enough CPU/Memory resources, and maybe storage IOPS as well to avoid slow performance issues).

      This means on the Host Preparation under Networking & Security, you will only install NSX VIBs on the nested ESXi (and not the physical server). Because at times this requires a reboot, and when you prepare the physical server for NSX, it will require a reboot, and this same physical server hosts everything else, such as Active Directory, DNS, vCenter, NSX Manager, etc. and we do not want to reboot everything else.

      In VMware VVDs (VMware Validated Design), management pods are recommended to be on a separate cluster.

      Other people use multiple NICs maybe because they want to build as close to production environment and practice real-world skills such as using separate VLAN for different traffic types (Management, vMotion, Storage, etc.)

      What I did is use nested ESXi, add multiple vNICs to the virtual ESXi (8 NICs), because my physical machines only have 1 NIC. I use separate VMkernels for Management, vMotion, Storage, VSAN, etc.

      I hope this helps.

      Like

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