Archive | September 2014

VMware NSX: Install, Configure, Manage [V6.0] – a review

This past week I took the VMware NSX: ICM 6.0 training in our own Conclusion Headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands. This training is new, and as we are planning to start using NSX in our cloud proposition we deemed it necessary to take this course.

The course is set up as a 5 day course, we had a custom training in 4 days, but, to be honest, the standard course could be given in 4 days. The training is about NSX for vSphere, NSX for Multi Hypervisor is mentioned, but there are no slides about it, not about differences, interface nor requirements. There are no physical books, which still takes getting used to. The benefit of the didgital books is that any changes in the book will become available, like new slides or changed content. The description below details our training, the topics might be distributed slightly different when you take the course yourself, due to the level of the group, new content and questions asked.

NSX blog 1

Day 1 start with a brief introduction of training and certification for NSX (VCP-NV, VCIX-NV and VCDX-NV) in Module 1 and then continues with an introduction to vSphere Virtualization. As this course is the only course (so far) on NSX, this chapter is imho aimed at networking professionals with little or no knowledge about vSphere. The vSphere intro is followed by a chapter on SDDC before starting with the introduction of NSX and NSX manager and the installation and configuration of NSX Manager. After that it focusses on which service runs on which plane and the first lab. The rest of the day is about the NSX Controllers. Always use odd numbers of controllers with a minimum of 3.

NSX blog 2 NSX blog 3

On day 2 the fun really starts! It starts with laying a foundation targeting vSphere administrators (and could be a tad boring for network admins) on Ethernet, Broadcasts, ARP. To even things out, it continues with an explanation of the distributed switch, LACP and enhanced LACP and VLANs before starting the most important topic of the day: VXLAN (the NSX compendium on networkinferno.net does a great job explaining some parts, at times better than the course ware). As NSX for vSphere currently builds on VXLAN and is amongst others an extension of vCNS (and with NSX 6.1 there is an upgrade bundle from vCNS to NSX), understanding VXLAN and the differences from VLAN helps to learn NSX.

NSX blog 4 NSX blog 5

Day 3 continues with NSX Routing and NSX Edge features (NAT, Load Balancing, HA, VPN and layer 2 Bridging) and more labs. Labs are fun!  You’ll delve into OSPF, Area 51, IS-IS and BGP before you’ll learn about the NSX distributed Logical Router, which provides an optimized and scalable way of handling East-West traffic in a data center. Next topic layer 2 bridging, like bridging between a VXLAN and a VLAN. The chapter finishes with and introduction of the NSX Edge Services Gateway. And two labs. After the labs the course goes on with the Edge Services Gateway.

NSX blog 6 NSX blog 7

NSX blog 8

On Day 4 we worked on the NSX Firewall and monitoring and did the last 4 labs.

All in all there are 18 labs, ranging from the very easy to the somewhat more tricky. It is easy to overscroll the pages with digital courseware, making you skip a task, so things do not give the expected results. But the labs give a nice representation of the knowledge you need for common day tasks. When preparing for the VCP-NV exams, do as much of the VMware Hands On Labs as well, and if you’ve got a lab at home or at work, try to get your hands on a trial (should be possible after you have taken this course). The course covers about 50% of the topics in the exam. Use the blueprint to prepare yourself, and study the NSX documentation next to the course ware.

It is a good course I think, and four days is more than enough to cover all the topics and the labs. It is a pity that the possibility of integration with vCAC is mentioned but not further explored… Wouldn’t you want to increase availability of your cloud portal by automating tenants networks roll out with the aid of VCO and NSX?

After the instructors have gained some more experience with this course, I guess the course could be done in four days. Minimum prerequisites for this course imho are a VCP-status (or equivalent experience and knowledge) and preferably a couple of years of experience with managing vSphere and have a decent understanding of networking (routing, switching and firewalling). The instructor who did an excellent job with us, Jens Söldner, gave us some great tips for sites like vSential.com and networkinferno.net where additional information can be found on NSX. The last one is kept up to date, during the course we saw a new paragraph on a new NSX 6.1 feature, ECMP (Equal Cost Multi Path), being added. Another tip he gave us is the Brocade IP Primer, a free e-book on networking. Duco Jaspars, one of my fellow attendees, tipped us about the book “Networking for VMware Administrators” from VMware Press.

NSX blog 9

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Short preview of upcoming posts

As I have been extremely busy the last weeks with our vCloud Automation Center 6 based cloud proposition, expanding our possibilities and preparing for on-boarding new tenants, I haven’t had time to write. I still don’t, however I just wanted to let you know what I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks.

As I will be attending the NSX 6.0 Install, Configure and Manage course next week, expect a review like I wrote about the vCAC 6 ICM course.

vCAC 6.1 is available as of today (september 9th), so I’ll be writing about our upcoming upgrade from 6.0.1.x to 6.1 and I’ll write about building a distributed setup of vCAC 6.1. Furthermore, I’ll write about migrating or integrating a single tier vCAC setup in a distributed vCAC architecture.

In our test/dev environment we’ll hook up our demo tenant to AWS, I’ll post about that too, and we’ll be looking at vCAC 6.1 Application Services. formerly known as vCloud Application Director (and before that vFabric Application Director).

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