VMware Cloud Foundation in a Lab

VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is basically a package containing vSphere, vSAN, NSX-T, and vRealize Suite elegantly managed by something called SDDC Manager. Everything is installed, configured and upgraded automatically without much user intervention. VCF is based on VMware Validated Design, so you get a well-designed, thoroughly tested and consistent deployment. Upgrading is also a lot easier as you don’t have to check interoperability matrices and upgrade order of the individual components – Just click on the upgrade button when a bundle is available. For someone who has implemented all these products manually many times, VCF is a blessing. Tanzu and Horizon are also supported to run on VCF, and almost everything else you can run on vSphere. Many cloud providers are powered by VCF, for instance VMware Cloud on AWS.

VCF requires at least four big vSAN ReadyNodes and 10 gigabit networking with multiple VLANs and routing, so how can you deploy this is in a lab without investing in a lot of hardware? VMware Cloud Foundation Lab Constructor (VLC) to the rescue! VLC is a script that deploys a complete nested VCF environment onto a single physical host. It can even set up a DHCP server, DNS server, NTP server and a router running BGP. It is also very easy to use, with a GUI and excellent support from its creators and other users in their Slack workspace. It is created by Ben Sier and Heath Johnson.

Here is a nice overview taken from the VLC Install Guide:

VLC requires a single physical host with 12 CPU cores, 128 GB RAM, and 2 TB of SSD. I am lucky enough to have a host with dual Xeon CPUs (20 cores) and 768 GB RAM. I don’t use directly attached SSD, but run it on an NFS Datastore on a NetApp FAS2240-4 over 10 gig networking. I can deploy VCF 4.2 with 7 nested ESXi hosts in 3 hours and 10 minutes on this host.
 
VLC lets you choose between three modes: Automated, Manual and Expansion Pack. Automated will deploy VCF including all dependencies, while Manual will deploy VCF, but you will have to provide DNS, DHCP, NTP and BGP. Expansion Pack can be used to add additional ESXi hosts to your deployment after you have installed VCF, for instance when you want to create more clusters or expand existing ones.
 
This is what the VLC GUI looks like:

So far, I have only used the Automated and the Expansion Pack modes, and they both worked flawlessly without any issues. Just make sure you have added valid licenses to the json file like the documentation tells you to do. Some people also mess up the networking requirements, so please spend some extra time studying that in the Installation Guide and reach out if you have any questions regarding that.

It can also be challenging for some to get the nested VCF environment to access the Internet. This is essential to be able to download software bundles used to upgrade the deployment, or to install software like vRealize Suite. Since VLC already requires a Windows jump host which is connected to both my Management network as well as the VCF network, I chose to install “Routing and Remote Access” which is included in Windows Server. Then I set the additional IP address 10.0.0.1 on the VCF network adapter. This IP is used as the default gateway for the router deployed in VCF if you also typed it into the “Ext GW” field in VLC GUI. The last step was to configure NAT in “Routing and Remote Access” to give all VCF nodes access to the Internet. I could then connect SDDC Manager to My VMware Account and start downloading software bundles.

Here are some of the things I have used VLC to do:

Deployed VCF 3.10, 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2 with up to 11 ESXi hosts

Being able to deploy earlier versions of VCF has been very useful to test something on the same version my customers are running in production. Many customers don’t have proper lab gear to run VCF. It has also been great to be able to test upgrading VCF from one version to another.

Experimented with the Cloud Foundation Bring-Up Process using both json and Excel files

The bring-up process is automated, but it requires the configuration, like host names, cluster names, IP addresses and so on, to be provided in an Excel or json file. All required details can be found in the Planning and Preparation Workbook.

Stretched a cluster between two Availability Zones

All my VCF customers are running stretched clusters so beings able to run this in my lab is very useful. This requires at least 8 vSAN nodes, 4 per availability zone. Currently this must be configured using the VCF API, but it is not that difficult, and SDDC Manager includes a built in API explorer which can be used to do this directly in the GUI if you want to.

Created additional Clusters and Workload Domains

Creating more clusters and workload domains will be required by most large customers and also by some smaller ones. It is supported to run regular production workloads in the management workload domain, but this is only recommended for smaller deployments and special use cases.

Commissioned and decommissioned hosts in VCF

Adding and removing ESXi hosts in VCF requires us to follow specific procedures called commissioning and decommissioning. The procedures validate that the hosts meet the criteria to be used in VCF so that it is less likely that you run into problems later. I have had some issues decommissioning hosts from my Stretched Cluster, and VMware has filed a bug to engineering to get this resolved in a future release. The problem was that the task failed at “Remove local user in ESXi host”, which makes sense since the host went up in flames. Workaround was to deploy a new host with the same name and IP, then decommissioning worked. Not a great solution. It is also possible to remove the host directly from the VCF database, but that is not supported. If you run into this issue in production, please call VMware Support.

Expanded and shrunk Clusters – including Stretched Clusters

Adding ESXi hosts to existing clusters, or removing hosts, requires you to follow specific procedures. Again, stretched clusters must be expanded and shrunk using the VCF API.

Upgraded all VCF components using the built-in Lifecycle Management feature

Upgrading VCF is a fun experience for someone used to upgrade all the individual VMware products manually. The process is highly automated, and you don’t have to plan the upgrade order or check which product version is compatible with the others. This is taken care of by SDDC Manager. I have successfully upgraded all the products in VCF including the vRealize Suite.

Tested the Password and Certificate Management features

VCF can automate changing the passwords on all its components. This includes root passwords on ESXi hosts, vCenter SSO accounts and administrative users for the various appliances. You can choose to set your own password or have VCF set random passwords. All passwords are stored in SDDC Manager and you can look them up using the API or from the command line. This requires that you know SDDC Manager’s root password and a special privileged user name and the privileged password. These are obviously not rotated by SDDC Manager.

Changing SSL certificates is a daunting task, especially when you have many products and appliances like you do in VCF. SDDC Manager has the option to replace these for you automatically. You can connect SDDC Manager directly to a Microsoft Certificate Authority or you can use an OpenSSL CA which is built in. If you don’t want to use either of those, there is also support for any third-part CA, but then you have to generate CSR files, copy those over to the CA, generate the certificate files, copy those back and install them. This also requires all the files to be present in a very specific folder structure inside a tar.gz file, so it can be a bit cumbersome to get it right. Also note that all the methods seems to generate the CSR for NSX-T Manager without a SAN, so unless you force your CA to include a SAN, the certificate for NSX-T will not be trusted by your web browser. This has been an issue for several years, so I am puzzled that it still hasn’t been resolved. When generating CSRs for NSX-T in environments without VCF, I never use the CSR generator in NSX-T Manager to avoid this issue. vSphere Certificate Manager in VCSA works fine for this purpose.

Tested the NSX-T Edge Cluster deployment feature

SDDC Manager has a wizard to assist in deploying NSX-T Edge Clusters including the Edge Transport Nodes and the Tier-1 and Tier-0 Gateways required to provide north-south routing and network services. The wizard makes sure you fulfil all the prerequisites, then it will ask you to provide all the required settings like names, MTU values, passwords, IP addresses and so on. This helps you to get a consistent Edge Cluster configuration. Note that VCF is not forcing you to deploy all NSX-T Edge Clusters using this wizard, so please reach out if you want to discuss alternative designs.

Deployed vRealize Suite on Application Virtual Networks (AVN)

All the vRealize Suite products are downloaded in SDDC Manager like any VCF software bundle. You then have to deploy vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, which will be integrated with SDDC Manager. VMware Workspace ONE Access must then be installed before you can deploy any of the vRealize Suite products. It is used to provide identity and access management services. It is downloaded as an install bundle in SDDC Manager, but it is actually deployed from vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, same as the rest of the products like vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Operations and vRealize Automation. Application Virtual Networks (AVN) is just NSX-T Overlay networks designed and automatically deployed for running the vRealize Suite. This gives you all the NSX-T benefits like load balancing, mobility, improved security and disaster recovery. AVN is optional as you can choose to deploy the vRealize Suite on VLAN backed networks as well.

Deployed Workload Management and Tanzu Kubernetes Cluster

Deploying Tanzu in VCF is not an automated process, but there is a wizard helping you to fulfil the following prerequisites:

  • Proper vSphere for Kubernetes licensing to support Workload Management
  • An NSX-T based workload domain deployed
  • At least one NSX-T Edge cluster
  • IP addresses for pod networking, Services, Ingress and Egress traffic
  • At least one Content Library

You have to select an NSX-T based, non-vLCM enabled workload domain, and the wizard will then search for any compatible clusters in this domain. It will then validate the cluster, and if it is ok you are directed to complete the deployment in the vSphere Client manually. The VCF docs have specific instructions on how to do this.

VLC has been very helpful when troubleshooting certain issues for my VCF customers, and when preparing for the VMware Cloud Foundation Specialist exam.

You can download the latest version of VLC, which is 4.2, from here.

Please make sure to read the Install Guide included in the zip file.

It is also possible to download earlier versions of VLC, which can be really useful for testing upgrades, or if you want to simulate a customer’s environment.

VLC VersionDownload Link
4.10https://tiny.cc/getVLC410bits
4.0.1https://tiny.cc/getVLC401bits
4.0http://tiny.cc/getVLC40bits
3.91-3.10http://tiny.cc/getVLC310bits
3.8.1-3.9http://tiny.cc/getVLC38bits

If you give VLC a go and successfully deploy a VCF instance, please send a screen shot of your installation to SDDC Commander in the VLC Support Slack workspace, and he will send you some awesome stickers!

I highly recommend the following articles for more information about VLC:

Deep dive into VMware Cloud Foundation – Part 1 Building a Nested Lab

Deep dive into VMware Cloud Foundation – Part 2 Nested Lab deployment

If you don’t have licenses for VCF, I recommend signing up for a VMUG Advantage membership which gives you a 365 days evaluation license, and a lot more.

Cheers.

Introduction to my Labs

Yes, I intentionally wrote Labs, as this post will introduce you to both my home lab and to the lab environment running in my employers data centers.

I have just built a small home lab for the first time in many years. A lab is very important for someone like me who is testing new technology on a daily basis. During the last few years, my employers have provided lab equipment, or I have rented lab environments in the cloud, so the need for an actual lab running in my house was not there. My current employer, Proact, has an awesome lab which I will tell you more about later.

There are two reasons why I built a small lab at home now:

  1. I want to be able to destroy and rebuild the lab whenever I want to without impacting anything in the corporate lab which we run almost like an enterprise production environment with lots of dependencies. This is a good thing most of the time, but can be limiting some times, for example when I want run the very latest version of something without having time to do much planning and coordination. And since it is a lab after all, something may break from time to time, and that usually happens when I urgently need to test something.
     
  2. I want to set up Layer 2 VPN from my home lab to the corporate lab to test and demonstrate real hybrid cloud use-cases. I can then migrate workloads back and forth using vMotion. We have this already set up in the corporate lab and my colleague Espen is using the free NSX-T Autonomous Edge as an L2 VPN Client to stretch several VLANs between his home lab and the corporate lab.

I didn’t spend a lot of time investigating what gear to get for my home lab, and I also wanted to keep cost at a sensible level. I came up with the following bill of materials after doing some research on what equipment would be able to run ESXi 7.0 without too much hassle. 

  • 2 x – NUC Kit i7-10710U Frost Canyon , NUC10i7FNH
  • 2 x – Impact Black SO-DIMM DDR4 2666MHz 2x32GB
  • 2 x – SSD 970 EVO PLUS 500GB
  • 2 x – 860 EVO Series 1TB
  • 2 x – CLUB 3D CAC-1420 – USB network adapter 2.5GBase-T
  • 2 x – SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 – 32GB

First I had to install the disk drives, the memory, and upgrade the NUCs firmware. All that went smoothly, and the hardware seemed to be solid, except for the SATA cable which is proprietary and flimsy. Be careful when opening and closing these NUCs to avoid breaking this cable. Then ESXi 7.0 was installed on the SanDisk Ultra Fits from another bootable USB drive. The Ultra Fits are nice to use for boot drives since they are very small physically. After booting ESXi for the first time, I installed the “USB Network Native Driver for ESXi” to get the 2.5 Gbps USB NICs to work. The NICs were directly connected without using a switch, since my switch doesn’t support 2.5GBase-T. This was repeated on both my NUCs as I wanted to set them up in a two node cluster.

vCenter Server 7.0 was installed using “Easy Install” which creates a new vSAN Datastore and places the VCSA there. Quickstart was used to configure DRS, HA and vSAN, since I felt lazy and hadn’t tested this feature before. vSAN was configured as a 2-Node Cluster and the Witness Host was already installed in VMware Workstation running on my laptop. I configured Witness Traffic Separation (WTS) to use the Management network for Witness traffic.

I configured the vSAN Port Group to use the 2.5 Gbps NICs and then used iperf in ESXi to measure the throughput. They managed to push more than 2 Gbps so I am satisfied with that, but latency was a bit higher than expected at round-trip min/avg/max = 0.244/0.748/1.112 ms. I was also not able to increase the MTU higher than the standard 1500 bytes which is a bit disappointing, but these NICs were almost half the price of other 2.5GBase-T USB NICs so I guess I can live with this for now since I only plan to use them for vSAN traffic. I will buy different cards if I need to use them with NSX in the future, since Geneve requires at least 1600 bytes MTU. There are several USB cards which have been proven to work with ESXi 7.0 supporting 4000 and even 9000 MTU.

This is all I have had time to do with the new home lab so far, but will post updates here when new tings are implemented, like NSX-T with L2VPN.

I have spent a lot more time in the corporate lab running in Proact’s data centers, and here are some details on what we have running there. This is just a short introduction, but I plan to post more details later. This lab is shared with the rest of the SDDC Team at Proact, like Christian, Rudi, Espen, and a few others.

Hardware

  • 16 x Cisco UCS B200 M3 blade servers, each with dual socket Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2680 v2 @ 2.80GHz and 768 GB RAM.
  • 3 x Dell vSAN Ready Nodes (currently borrowed by a customer, but Espen will soon return them to the lab).
  • Cisco Nexus 10 Gigabit networking.
  • 32 TB of storage provided by NFS on NetApp FAS2240-4.
  • Two physical sites with routed connectivity (1500 MTU).

Software

  • vSphere 7.
  • 3 x vCenter Server 7.
  • vRealize Log Insight 8.1.1.
  • vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager.
  • vRealize Operations 8.1.1.
  • vRealize Automation 7.6 with blueprints to deploy stand-alone test servers, as well as entire nested lab deployments including ESXi hosts, vCenter and vSAN.
  • phpIPAM for IP address management.
  • Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services, DNS and Certificate Services.
  • NSX-T Data Center 3.1.
    • Logical Switching with both VLAN backed and Overlay backed Segments.
    • 2-tier Logical routing.
    • Load Balancing, including Distributed Load Balancer to support Tanzu.
    • Distributed Firewall.
    • Layer 2 VPN to stretch L2 networks between home labs and the corporate lab.
    • IPSec VPN to allow one site to access Overlay networks on the other site.
    • NAT to allow connectivity between public and private networks.
    • Containers configured with Tanzu.
  • vSphere with Tanzu running awesome modern containerized apps like Pacman.
  • Horizon 8 providing access to the lab from anywhere.
  • Veeam Backup & Replication 10.
  • VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) 4.2 – 8 nodes Stretched Cluster.

That’s it for now – Thanks for reading, and please go to the Contact page to reach out to me.

Running vSAN Witness in The Cloud

vSAN Stretched Cluster requires three independent sites; two data sites and one witness site. If you don’t have a third site, you can run the vSAN Witness Appliance in the cloud. This post will show you how I deployed a vSAN Witness Appliance in Proact Hybrid Cloud (PHC) which runs VMware Cloud Director.

I started with deploying the vSAN Witness Appliance in PHC by selecting Add vApp from OVF.

When prompted to Select Source I browsed to VMware-VirtualSAN-Witness-7.0U3c-19193900.ova which I had already downloaded from VMware. Please make sure you download the version matching your environment, or upgrade it after deployment. I continued through the wizard supplying all the regular details like hostname, IP configuration and so on, and my vApp including the vSAN Witness Appliance VM was deployed.

Next step was to configure VPN between my on-premises lab in Oslo and PHC in Sweden. Both environments run NSX-T which makes it easy, but most third-party hardware routers or VPN gateways that support IPSec is supported. I started with configuring it in PHC by going to Networking, Edge Gateways, and clicking on the name of my Edge Gateway to open the configuration page. I then selected IPSec VPN under Services in the menu and clicked on New to bring up the Add IPSec VPN Tunnel wizard. I provided a name, selected the default security profile, and entered a Pre-Shared Key for the Authentication Mode although using a certificate is also an option. Endpoint Configuration was then configured like this:

Local Endpoint IP Address was set to the public IP assigned to my Edge Gateway in PHC, and Remote Endpoint IP Address was set to the public IP assigned to the firewall in my on-premises lab environment. Since we are using NAT, Remote ID was set to the internal private IP configured on the Local Endpoint. If you are not using NAT, Remote ID should be set to the public IP being used. The 10.10.10.0/24 network is where the vSAN Witness Appliance is running in PHC, and the 192.168.224.0/24 network is where I run the vSAN Nodes in my on-premises lab.

After verifying that the VPN tunnel was working, I was able to add the vSAN Witness Appliance as an ESXi host in my on-premises vCenter:

I configured my vSAN nodes for Witness Traffic Separation so that they would communicate with the witness host via their Management network (vmk0). This removed the need to route the vSAN data network to the Witness site, and since I am using vmk0 I also didn’t need to add any static routes or override the default gateway. When configuring vSAN on the cluster in my on-premises lab, I could simply select the witness host running in PHC:

Checking the Fault Domains configuration on my vSAN Cluster after deployment shows that the witness in PHC is being used by the cluster.

Please don’t forget the importance of making sure that the Preferred site and the Secondary site are connected to the Witness site independently of each other. This means that the Secondary site should not connect to the Witness site via the Preferred site and vice versa. The reason for this is that if you lose one of your data sites, the surviving data site still needs to talk to the witness for the cluster to be operational.

For more information about vSAN Stretched Cluster I recommend reading the vSAN Stretched Cluster Guide.

New Undocumented Feature in NSX-T 3.2 MC

Migration Coordinator (MC) is VMware’s tool to migrate from NSX Data Center for vSphere (NSX-V) to NSX-T Data Center (NSX-T). Last week I was helping a customer migrating their Distributed Firewall Configuration from NSX-V to NSX-T 3.2 and we were presented with a new step in the process called “Prepare Infrastructure”. I have never seen this step in NSX-T 3.1 and earlier, and was surprised to see it now since I had checked the documentation for any changes to the process.

The new step looks like this:

The documentation said that no changes would be done to NSX-V during the migration so I was trying to find anyone able to tell me what this step would do. Finally someone at VMware could to tell me that this step would create temporary IP Sets in NSX-V to to maintain security during the migration. When you migrate a VM from one vCenter (NSX-V) to another vCenter (NSX-T), the VM will no longer be included in the Security Groups in NSX-V since the object is not longer present there. Before NSX-T 3.2 we had to create these IP Sets manually in NSX-V so this is a welcome feature in NSX-T 3.2 MC. MC has already been creating temporary IP sets in NSX-T for some time. More details on this can be found here.

The latest version of the NSX-T 3.2 docs has now been updated with the missing information:

“In the Prepare Infrastructure step, temporary IP sets will be added to NSX-V if the NSX-V security groups are used in a distributed firewall rule. This is required to maintain security while the VMs are migrated from NSX-V to NSX-T. After the migration, during the finalize infrastructure phase, the temporary IP sets will be deleted.
You can skip the Prepare Infrastructure step. However, doing so may compromise security until the finalize infrastructure phase is complete.”

Deploy Nested VCF to NSX-T Overlay

I have used VLC to deploy nested VCF for a long time and I am quite happy with how it works. VLC is usually deployed to a VLAN Trunk Port Group. This requires the VLANs used in the nested VCF to be configured on the physical switches in the environment. This does not scale well, and it is hard to automate. By following the steps below we are able to deploy VLC to an NSX-T Overlay Segment which allows each VFC instance to be isolated on their own layer 2 network. NSX-T Overlay Segments can be deployed automatically and they don’t require any changes to the physical network. This also allows us to use overlapping IP addressing between them. I have not yet tested to connect my Segment to a Tier-1 Gateway so that the nested VCF can connect to any external networks, but I plan to do this soon and update this post.

NSX-T Configuration

The following configuration needs to be done on the hosting NSX-T environment.

IP Discovery Profile

Namevcf-nested-ip-profile
Duplicate IP DetectionDisabled
ARP SnoopingEnabled
ARP Binding Limit256
ND SnoopingDisabled
ND Snooping Limit3
ARP ND Binding Limit Timeout10
Trust on First UseEnabled
DHCP SnoopingDisabled
DHCP Snooping – IPv6Disabled
VMware ToolsEnabled
VMware Tools – IPv6Disabled

MAC Discovery Profile

Namevcf-nested-mac-profile
MAC ChangeEnabled
MAC Learning Aging Time600
MAC LearningEnabled
MAC Limit4096
MAC Limit PolicyAllow
Unknown Unicast FloodingEnabled

Segment Security Profile

Namevcf-nested-security-profile
BPDU FilterDisabled
BPDU Filter Allow ListNot Set
Server BlockDisabled
Server Block – IPv6Disabled
Non-IP Traffic BlockDisabled
Rate LimitsDisabled
Receive Broadcast
0
Receive Multicast0
Client BlockDisabled
Client Block – IPv6Disabled
RA GuardEnabled
Transmit Broadcast0
Transmit Multicast0

Segments

Namevcf-nested-trunk-01
Transport Zoneoverlay-tz
Connected GatewayNone
SubnetNone
Profilesvcf-nested-ip-profile
vcf-nested-mac-profile
vcf-nested-security-profile
VLAN0-4094

Jump Host Configuration

To deploy VLC we need a jump host with two network adapters, one connected to your management network so that we can access it with RDP, and one connected to the nested environment so that we can connect to the nested appliances there. More details on this can be found in the VLC installation guide.

Jump Host 01

Namejumpy-01
OSWindows Server 2019
NIC1  Portgroup: pg-management
Driver: VMXNET3
NIC2Portgroup: vcf-nested-trunk-01
GW: None
VLAN: 10 (Tagged in Guest OS)
Driver: VMXNET3
SoftwarePowershell 5.1+
PowerCLI 12.1+
OVFTool 4.4+
.Net Framework
Static RoutesFor example: route ADD 10.50.0.0 MASK 255.255.255.0 10.0.0.221
Windows FirewallOn
Powershell PolicySet-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

VLC Configuration

LocationC:\VLC
Bringup ConfigurationC:\VLC\NOLIC-44-TMM-vcf-ems-public.json
ESXi Host ConfigurationC:\VLC\conf\default_mgmt_hosthw.json
LicensesMust be added to NOLIC-44-TMM-vcf-ems-public.json
Cloud BuilderC:\VLC\VMware-Cloud-Builder-4.4.0.0-19312029_OVF10.ova
MTU1700 (can probably be increased to 8800 or more)

VLCGui.ps1 Configuration

The following changes need to be done to the default VLCGui.ps1 to make it work with NSX-T.

Changed the following to be able to select NSX-T Segments:

From
If ($isSecSet.AllowPromiscuous.Value -and $isSecSet.ForgedTransmits.Value -and $isSecSet.MacChanges.Value){   
To
If(-not ($isSecSet.AllowPromiscuous.Value -and $isSecSet.ForgedTransmits.Value -and $isSecSet.MacChanges.Value)){  

Changed the following to get 1500 bytes MTU on vSwitch0:

From
$kscfg+="esxcli network vswitch standard set -v vSwitch0 -m 9000`n"
To
$kscfg+="esxcli network vswitch standard set -v vSwitch0 -m 1500`n"

Added the following to recreate vmk0 so that it gets a unique MAC address:

$kscfg+="esxcfg-vmknic --del vmk0 -p `"Management Network`"`n"
$kscfg+="esxcfg-vmknic --add vmk0 --portgroup `"Management Network`" --ip `${IPADDR} --netmask `${SUBNET} --mtu 1500`n"
$kscfg+="esxcfg-route -a default `${IPGW}`n"

Change the MAC Address of NSX-T Virtual Distributed Router

You must change the default MAC address of the NSX-T virtual distributed router in the nested VCF deployment so that it does not use the same MAC address that is used by the hosting NSX-T virtual distributed router.

Change the MAC Address of NSX-T Virtual Distributed Router

An alternative is to configure the hosting NSX-T environment’s Overlay Transport Zone with the nested_nsx property set to true, but this has to be done when creating the Transport Zone.

Thanks to Ben Sier for helping me getting this to work.

Upgrading to VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 in my Lab

VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 was just released so I wanted to check out what was new and upgrade my lab. Going into SDDC Manager and selecting Lifecycle Management and Release Versions gave me an overview of what is new:

  • Flexible vRealize Suite product upgrades: Starting with VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 and vRealize Lifecycle Manager 8.6.2, upgrade and deployment of the vRealize Suite products is managed by vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. You can upgrade vRealize Suite products as new versions become available in your vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager will only allow upgrades to compatible and supported versions of vRealize Suite products. Specific vRealize Automation, vRealize Operations, vRealize Log Insight, and Workspace ONE Access versions will no longer be listed in the VMware Cloud Foundation BOM.
  • Improvements to upgrade prechecks: Upgrade prechecks have been expanded to verify filesystem capacity and passwords. These improved prechecks help identify issues that you need to resolve to ensure a smooth upgrade.
  • SSH disabled on ESXi hosts: This release disables the SSH service on ESXi hosts by default, following the vSphere security configuration guide recommendation. This applies to new and upgraded VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 deployments.
  • User Activity Logging: New activity logs capture all the VMware Cloud Foundation API invocation calls, along with user context. The new logs will also capture user logins and logouts to the SDDC Manager UI.
  • SDDC Manager UI workflow to manage DNS and NTP configurations: This feature provides a guided workflow to validate and apply DNS and NTP configuration changes to all components in a VMware Cloud Foundation deployment.
  • 2-node vSphere clusters are supported when using external storage like NFS or FC as the principal storage for the cluster: This feature does not apply when using vSAN as principal storage or when using vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines for updates.
  • Security fixes: This release includes fixes for the following security vulnerabilities:
  • Multi-Instance Management is deprecated: The Multi-Instance Management Dashboard is no longer available in the SDDC Manager UI.
  • BOM updates: Updated Bill of Materials with new product versions.

Going to my Management Workload Domain showed that the upgrade was available for download:

I did a precheck to verify that my environment was ready to be upgraded:

I checked what my current versions were at:

I downloaded and installed all the update bundles in the order dictated by SDDC Manager, and everything went well except for the first ESXi host upgrade:

The first ESXi host did not exit Maintenance Mode after being upgraded, hence the post check failed:

Message: VUM Remediation (installation) of an ESXi host failed.
Remediation Message: High: VUM Remediation (installation) of an ESXi host failed. Manual intervention needed as upgrade failed during install stage. Check for errors in the lcm log files located on SDDC Manager under /var/log/vmware/vcf/lcm. Please retry the upgrade once the upgrade is available again.

Health check failed on vSAN enabled cluster while exiting maintenance mode on the host: vSAN cluster is not healthy because vSAN health check(s): com.vmware.vsan.health.test.controlleronhcl failed. The host is currently in maintenance mode.

The following KB addresses this issue, and I chose workaround number 3 which was to exit maintenance mode manually: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/87698

Retrying the upgrade successfully upgraded the rest of my ESXi hosts.

NSX-v to NSX-T – End-to-End Migration #1

The End of General Support for VMware NSX Data Center for vSphere (NSX-v) was January 16, 2022. More details can be found here: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/85706

If you are still running NSX-v, please start planning your migration to NSX-T as soon as possible as this may be a complex and time consuming job.

I have done several NSX-v to NSX-T migrations lately and thought I should share some of my experiences, starting with my latest End-to-End Migration using Migration Coordinator. This was a VMware Validated Design implementation containing a Management Workload Domain and one VI Workload Domain. I will not go into all the details involved, but rather focus on the challenges we faced and how we resolved them.

Challenge 1

The first error we got in Migration Coordinator was this:

Config translation failed [Reason: TOPOLOGY failed with ”NoneType’ object has no attribute ‘get”]

After some investigation we tried to reboot the NSX-V Manager appliance, but this did not seem to resolve it. We then noticed that EAM status was in a Starting state on NSX Manager, but never changed to Up. We tried to figure out why, and after a while we found that the “Universal Synchronization Service” was stopped so we started it manually, and this made the EAM status change to Up. Not sure how this is related really, but we never saw the error again.

Challenge 2

The next error we got in Migration Coordinator:

Config migration failed [Reason: HTTP Error: 400: Active list is empty in the UplinkHostSwitchProfile. for url: http://localhost:7440/nsxapi/api/v1/host-switch-profiles%5D

We went through the logs trying to figure out what was causing this, but never found any clues. We ended up going through every Portgroup on the DVS and found one unused Portgroup with no Active Uplinks. We deleted this Portgroup since it was not in use and this resolved the problem. If the Portgroup had been in use, we could have added an Uplink to it.

Challenge 3

Migration Coordinator failed to remove NSX-v VIBs from the ESXi host. At first we didn’t figure out why, but we tried to manually remove the VIBs using these commands:

esxcli software vib get -n esx-nsxv

Showed that the VIB was installed.

esxcli software vib remove -n esx-nsxv

Failed with “No VIB matching VIB search specification ‘esx-nsxv'”

After rebooting the host, the above command was successfully removing the NSX-v VIBs.

Challenge 4

NSX-T VIBs fail to install/upgrade, due to insufficient space in bootbank on ESXi host.

This was a common problem a few years back, but I hadn’t seen this in a while.

The following KB has more details and helped us figure out what to do: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/74864

After removing many unused VIBs we were able to make enough room to install NSX-T. When we did this in advance on other hosts, we also got rid of Challenge 3.

Challenge 5

During the “Migrate NSX Data Center for vSphere Hosts” step we noticed the following in the doc:

“You must disable IPFIX and reboot the ESXi hosts before migrating them.”

We had already disabled IPFIX, but we hadn’t rebooted the hosts, so we decided to do that, however this caused all VMs to lose network connectivity. NSX-v is running in CDO mode, so I am not sure why this happened, but probably got to do with the fact that the control plane is down at this point in the process. We had a maintenance window scheduled so the customer didn’t care, but next time I would make sure to do this in advance.

Challenge 6

The customer were using LAG and when checking the Host Transport Nodes in NSX-T Manager, they all had PNIC/Bond Status Degraded. Since we had migrated all PNICs and VMKs to N-VDS, the hosts still had a VDS connected which had no PNICs attached. Removing the VDS solved this problem.

Challenge 7

Since we were migrating from NSX-v to NSX-T in a Management Cluster, we would end up migrating NSX-T Manager from a VDS to an N-VDS.

The NSX-T Data Center Installation Guide has the following guidance as well as details on how to configure this:

“In a single cluster configuration, management components are hosted on an N-VDS switch as VMs. The N-VDS port to which the management component connects to by default is initialized as a blocked port due to security considerations. If there is a power failure requiring all the four hosts to reboot, the management VM port will be initialized in a blocked state. To avoid circular dependencies, it is recommended to create a port on N-VDS in the unblocked state. An unblocked port ensures that when the cluster is rebooted, the NSX-T management component can communicate with N-VDS to resume normal function.”

Hopefully this post will help you avoid some of these challenges when migrating from NSX-v to NSX-T.

Upgrading to VMware Cloud Foundation 4.3 in my Lab

VMware just released VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) 4.3 and I have several customers planning to upgrade in the near future, so I decided to upgrade my lab to get some experience. I also have two customers planning to deploy VCF 4.3 on new hardware so I will also soon deploy it from scratch to see what’s new with the bring-up procedure. VCF 4.3 comes with a lot of fixes and new features that you can read about in the Release Notes.

My current VCF lab is running version 4.2 and consist of one Management Workload Domain (WLD) with one Stretched Cluster. That is two Availability Zones with four ESXi hosts in each and a vSAN Witness running in a third independent site. In addition, I have one VI Workload Domain (WLD) containing three ESXi hosts in a non-stretched Cluster. Currently I don’t run vRealize Suite, Tanzu or anything else than what is included in the VCF base-platform. Everything is deployed using VLC.

I started by reading the Release Notes and the Upgrading to VMware Cloud Foundation 4.3 docs, as well as a few blog posts about what is new in this release.

The following steps were then performed to upgrade VCF to version 4.3. Note that all images are clickable to make them bigger.

First I did a quick health check of my environment by logging into the vSphere Client and SDDC Manager and looked for any alarms or warnings. It was surprisingly healthy.

Then I checked that I was actually running on version 4.2, and verified that there was an update available for the Management WLD. I also selected to download both required upgrade bundles.
 

Ran an Update Precheck to ensure that my environment was ready for the update. It passed successfully, but I had already implemented a fix to skip vSAN HCL Checks for ESXi Upgrades since I am running on nested ESXi hosts, or else it would have failed.

Installed the VCF 4.3 update.

Went back to the Patches/Updates section for the Management WLD and found that the NSX-T 3.1.3 update was available, so I chose to download and install that.

I chose to upgrade both my Edge Clusters and my Host Clusters in one go, but there is an option to upgrade them separately starting with the Edge Clusters. You can also choose between parallell or sequential upgrades, and I went for the default which is parallell even though it wouldn’t matter in my case since I only have one cluster of each type.

When the update starts, you can see status on each component it is updating.

You can also select VIEW UPDATE ACTIVITY to get more details on what it is doing.

Next available update was for vCenter Server so I downloaded and installed that.

When vCenter was done upgrading, ESXi 7.0 Update 2a was downloaded and installed.

I selected to enable Quick Boot to speed up the upgrade of ESXi. Note that your hardware must support this feature if you are running on bare-metal instead of nested ESXi like I do.

The ESXi update got cancelled for some reason, so I retried to install it, but it got cancelled again.

I ran a new Precheck and found that VUM had problems uploading the patch files to the four ESXi hosts in AZ2.

Looking at the logs on one of the hosts showed me that it didn’t have enough memory. These four hosts only had 16 GB RAM each, so I increased this to 64 GB to make them equal to the hosts in AZ1.

I ran the Precheck again and this time it succeeded.

I tried to install the ESXi update again, but it got cancelled this time too. Rerunning the Precheck now showed that NTP was out of sync between my PSC and my SDDC Manager. However, when manually checking I found that this was not the case. The error didn’t specify which PSC so I started suspecting it could be due to my VI WLD vCenter appliance was down. After starting that up again, this NTP out of sync error disappeared and the Precheck went through all green. It would be nice if the Precheck was able to tell me which PSC it was complaining about, and also tell me that NTP wasn’t the problem, but that it didn’t have connectivity to it at all.

I tried to install the ESXi upgrade again, but it still got cancelled without giving me any reason. Digging through the /var/log/vmware/vcf/lcm/lcm.log file on SDDC Manager gave me this hint:

2021-09-01T09:36:55.684+0000 WARN  [vcf_lcm,801535c71a337889,d768] [c.v.evo.sddc.lcm.orch.Orchestrator,pool-7-thread-6] Cannot start upgrades since there are pending or, failed workflows

I looked into my Tasks list in SDDC Manager and found several failed tasks, but one stood out as not being resolved. SDDC Manager had tried to rotate the passwords, but were unable to do so on my VI WLD vCenter and NSX Manager since they were turned off temporarily. I went into Password Management and found an error there saying the same thing, and hitting retry solved this issue without problems since all appliances were back up running now.

I went back to Updates/Patches for my Management WLD and retried to install the ESXi update, and this time it started running. So even though the Precheck is all green you can still have issues causing the upgrade to be cancelled without any useful message in the user interface. The Upgrade Prerequisites tells us to “Ensure that there are no failed workflows in your system”, but in my lab there is usually a few failed tasks which are stuck without blocking an upgrade. It is also not a good idea to shut down appliances in other WLDs to save resources during an upgrade.

None of these problems would happen in a production environment since they were all caused by lack of resources in my nested lab.

Checked the VCF version again, and this time it said 4.3!

The last two things to update was the vSAN Disk format version and the ESXi version on my vSAN Witness Appliance, which SDCC Manager doesn’t care about upgrading, which is a bit disappointing. I used vSphere Lifecycle Manager to patch the vSAN Witness Appliance to the same build as my ESXi hosts. vSAN Disk format is also upgraded in the vSphere Client.

I must admit that upgrading VCF in my lab usually gives me some trouble along they way, but most of the time it is caused by some component lacking resources. It tends to be fixed by increasing CPU, memory or disk resources for either vCenter or NSX-T Manager appliances. I have also had issues were ESXi hosts were unable to enter/exit maintenance mode, caused by admission control or a blocking VM.

If time permits, I will soon post about how I deploy VCF 4.3 from scratch with focus on what is new regarding the bring-up, as well as presenting some of the new features in VCF 4.3.

NSX-T Federation in my VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) Lab

VCF 4.2 introduced support for NSX-T Federation which provides the ability to manage, control and synchronize multiple NSX-T deployments across different VCF instances which could be in a single region or deployed across regions. You can stretch Tier-0 and Tier-1 Gateways, Segments, and Groups used for Firewalling. Requirements between sites are maximum round-trip time of 150 ms, and 1500 bytes MTU is supported, however not recommended for best performance. NSX Managers and Edge Nodes need connectivity between them, but ESXi hosts don’t require connectivity across sites. Configuration is done on a new NSX Manager role called Global Manager and pushed out to the local NSX Managers in each site, but you can still also connect directly to the Local Managers in case you have a requirement not supported by the Global Manager.

This is not a detailed review of NSX-T Federation, but I will focus on showing you how I got NSX-T Federation working between two VFC instances in my lab. Sorry for the lack of a proper naming convention, but hopefully you are able to follow along.

Configuration Overview

HostnameRoleVCF InstanceLocationRegion
vcenter-mgmt.vcf.sddc.labvCenter Server1BGOA
sddc-manager.vcf.sddc.labSDDC Manager1BGOA
nsx-mgmt-1.vcf.sddc.labNSX-T Local Manager1BGOA
nsx-global-mgmt.vcf.sddc.labNSX-T Global Manager1BGOA
vcenter-mgmt.vcf.nils.labvCenter Server2OSLB
sddc-manager.vcf.nils.labSDDC Manager2OSLB
nsx-mgmt-1.vcf.nils.labNSX-T Local Manager2OSLB
nsx-global-mgmt.vcf.nils.labNSX-T Global Manager2OSLB

Steps Performed

Note that all images are clickable to make them bigger.

1. Deployed an NSX-T Global Manager appliance in VCF instance 1 (BGO). This is simply done by deploying the nsx-unified-appliance ova and selecting “NSX Global Manager” as Rolename. In a production environment I would also replace the certificate and deploy two additional appliances to create an NSX-T Global Manager Cluster. In my lab I was happy with deploying a single appliance.

2. Added vCenter Server in VCF instance 1 (BGO) as a Compute Manager.

3. Created an IP Pool for Remote Tunnel Endpoints in the Local NSX-T Manager in VCF instance 1 (BGO).

4. Set the NSX-T Global Manager to Active.

5. Obtained the Certificate Thumbprint for the existing NSX-T Manager in VCF Instance 1 (BGO). This can be done by SSH to vCenter and run the following command:

echo -n | openssl s_client -connect nsx-mgmt-1.vcf.sddc.lab:443 2>/dev/null | openssl x509 -noout -fingerprint -sha256

6. Enabled NSX-T Federation by adding the existing NSX-T Manager in VCF Instance 1 (BGO) as a location to the NSX-T Global Manager. Then it became a Local NSX-T Manager.

First attempt gave me this error message:

NSX-T Federation requires NSX Data Center Enterprise Plus license, so after upgrading my license it worked fine.

7. Configured networking for the NSX-T Local Manager node in VCF Instance 1 (BGO).

8. Imported the NSX-T Local Manager configurations for VCF Instance 1 (BGO) to the NSX-T Global Manager.

9. Created a Tier-1 Gateway to be stretched between both VCF instances.

10. Connected the existing Cross-Region Segment to the stretched Tier-1 Gateway.

11. Deployed an NSX-T Global Manager appliance in VCF instance 2 (OSL). This is simply done by deploying the nsx-unified-appliance ova and selecting “NSX Global Manager” as Rolename. In a production environment I would also replace the certificate and deploy two additional appliances to create an NSX-T Global Manager Cluster. In my lab I was happy with deploying a single appliance.

12. Connected the new NSX-T Global Manager Node to the vCenter Server in VCF instance 2 (OSL).

13. Created an IP Pool for Remote Tunnel Endpoints in NSX-T Data Center in VCF Instance 2 (OSL).

14. Obtained the Certificate Thumbprint for the existing NSX-T Manager in VCF Instance 2. This can be done by SSH to vCenter and run the following command:

echo -n | openssl s_client -connect nsx-mgmt-1.vcf.nils.lab:443 2>/dev/null | openssl x509 -noout -fingerprint -sha256

15. Deleted the existing Cross-Region Segment from the NSX-T Manager in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) since we will stretch the one deployed in VCF Instance 1 (BGO). The name in the image below contains “VXLAN”, but this name has stuck in the lab since VCF 3.x where NSX-V was used. It is in fact a regular NSX-T Overlay Segment.

16. Enabled NSX-T Federation by adding the existing NSX-T Manager in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) as a location to the NSX-T Global Manager. Then it became a Local NSX-T Manager. Note that this is done in the NSX-T Global Manager in VCF Instance 1 (BGO), which is the Active one.

17. Configured networking for the NSX-T Local Manager node in VCF Instance 2 (OSL).

Remote Tunnel Endpoints in OSL looking good.

Remote Tunnel Endpoints in BGO also looking good.

18. Imported the NSX-T Local Manager configuration in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) to the NSX-T Global Manager.

19. Deleted the Existing Tier-0 Gateway for the Management Domain in VCF Instance 2 (OSL). First I had to disconnect the Tier-1 Gateway from the Tier-0 Gateway.

20. Reconfigured the Tier-0 Gateway in VCF Instance 1 (BGO) to stretch the network between VCF Instance 1 (BGO) and VCF Instance 2 (OSL). Added OSL as a Location to existing bgo-mgmt-domain-tier0-gateway.

21. Set interfaces for VCF Instance 2 (OSL) on the Tier-0 Gateway.

22. Configured BGP neighbors for VCF Instance 2 (OSL).

23. Configured an Any IP Prefix in the Tier-0 Gateway.

24. Created a Route Map for No Export Traffic in the Tier-0 Gateway.

25. Configured Route Filters and Route Redistribution for BGP. Repeated for all four BGP neighbourships.

26. Configured route redistribution for VCF Instance 2 (OSL) on the Tier-0 Gateway.

27. Connected the Tier-1 Gateway in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) to the stretched Tier-0 Gateway.

28. Deleted VCF Instance 1 (BGO) as a Location for this Tier-1 Gateway since this is a local only Tier-1 Gateway.

29. Added VCF Instance 2 (OSL) as a Location in the stretched Tier-1 Gateway (mgmt-domain-stretched-t1-gw01).

30. Set the NSX-T Global Manager in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) as Standby for the NSX-T Global Manager in VCF Instance 1 (BGO). This provides high availability of the active NSX-T Global Manager.

First step was to retreive the SHA-256 thumbprint of the NSX-T Global Manager certificate in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) using this command from the vCenter Server:

echo -n | openssl s_client -connect nsx-global-mgmt.vcf.nils.lab:443 2>/dev/null | openssl x509 -noout -fingerprint -sha256

Then I added the NSX-T Global Manager in VCF Instance 2 (OSL) as standby.

That’s it! I now have NSX-T Federation between my two VCF Instances which I find very useful. I haven’t done everything required in the VVD to call my instances Region A and Region B, but I can still simulate a lot of cool use cases. Hopefully you found this useful and please let me know if you have any comments or questions.

References

Introducing NSX-T Federation support in VMware Cloud Foundation

Deploy NSX-T Federation for the Management Domain in the Dual-Region SDDC

Multi-Instance Management in my VCF Lab

Multi-Instance Management (VCF Federation) allows you to monitor and manage multiple VMware Cloud Foundation instances from a single console. You can view inventory across the VMware Cloud Foundation instances in the federation as well as the available and used capacity. You can also see if any patches are ready to be installed in any of the instances.

I won’t go too much into details here but focus on showing you how I got this working in my lab.

Here are the steps I did to federate two VCF instances.
Sorry for not using a proper naming convention, but hopefully you will be able to follow along.

  1. Deployed my first VCF instance using VLC Automated mode with the default settings.

2. Deployed my second VCF instance using VLC Automated mode but changed the following in AUTOMATED_AVN_VCF_VLAN_10-13_NOLIC_v42.json: IP addresses, VLAN IDs, domain, subdomain, and hostnames.

3. Added another vNIC to my Jump Host and tagged it with the Main VLAN ID for my second instance (100). Assigned it the Ext GW IP (10.0.2.1). 

4. Installed the DNS Server Role on my Jump Host and configured one conditional forwarder pointing to each of my Cloud Builder appliances to allow name resolution across both instances.

5. Configured Deadwood, which is the recursive DNS daemon (service) for MaraDNS, to forward queries to my Jump Host. This was done by editing /etc/dwood3rc and then restarting the maradns.deadwood service on the Cloud Builder appliances in each VCF instance.

bind_address = "10.0.0.221"
chroot_dir = "/etc/maradns"
upstream_servers = {}
upstream_servers["."]="8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4"
upstream_servers["0.0.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["0.50.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["0.60.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["vcf.sddc.lab."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["2.0.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "10.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["vcf.nils.lab."] = "10.0.0.1"
recursive_acl = "10.0.0.0/24,10.50.0.0/24,10.60.0.0/24"
filter_rfc1918 = 0


bind_address = "10.0.2.221"
chroot_dir = "/etc/maradns"
upstream_servers = {}
upstream_servers["."]="8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4"
upstream_servers["2.0.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["0.55.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["0.66.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["vcf.nils.lab."] = "127.0.0.1"
upstream_servers["0.0.10.in-addr.arpa."] = "10.0.2.1"
upstream_servers["vcf.sddc.lab."] = "10.0.2.1"
recursive_acl = "10.0.2.0/24,10.55.0.0/24,10.66.0.0/24"
filter_rfc1918 = 0

6. Replaced the certificates for SDDC Manager in both instances.

7. Followed VMware’s doc on how to create and join a federation in VCF.

More information about Multi-Instance Management in VMware Cloud Foundation can be found here.

Next up is to get NSX-T Federation working between my VCF instances, but that will be another blog post.

My first VMware PSO Project

Who is VMware Professional Services (PSO)?

“VMware Professional Services, the largest services organization of experienced IT professionals focused solely on virtualization, provides industry-leading Consulting, Education, and Technical Account Manager services that enable customers to transform IT environments through virtualization and realize greater value from flexible, agile IT service delivery models sooner, with less risk.”

I have been a certified VMware PSO consultant for about two years, but just recently started my first assignment for them. I work for VMware PSO via my employer Proact who is a VMware Principal Partner. I have had many inquiries from PSO during these years, but either I have been too busy with existing customers, or my skills haven’t aligned with the project requirements, like Cloud Director or Horizon. My first assignment is designing a 22 node VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) deployment for a company in Finland. It will contain two Workload Domains and two Stretched Clusters. I will also assist them installing the solution when the design is completed. Advantages doing this with PSO is that I get access to internal VMware resources like documentation and experts. The project is also lead by an experienced project manager from VMware which makes it easier for me to focus on the technical parts.

If your company would like to know how they can use VMware PSO, please reach out to me, or contact VMware.

If you are a VMware expert thinking it sounds like fun to be a VMware PSO consultant, I may be able to help you with that as well 🙂

You may already have VMware Professional Services Credits as part of your agreement with VMware, so please check if you should use these to start a project with PSO before they expire.

More information about VMware PSO can be found here.

Avoid Packet Loss in NSX-T

I have been working a lot with NSX-T the last few years and I have come across a misconfiguration that may cause massive packet loss for the workloads connected to Overlay segments. Since NSX-T 2.5, the recommended Edge Node design has been the “Single N-VDS – Multi-TEP” design which looks like this:

Image from NSX-T Reference Design Guide 3.0.

What people, and VCF, sometimes get wrong when implementing this design, is that they configure Trunk1 PG and Trunk2 PG with a Teaming and failover policy of Active/Unused instead of Active/Standby. Note that there are two TEP-IPs, each using a separate vNIC, Trunk PG and physical NIC. When one of the physical NICs or one of the Top of Rack (ToR) switches fail, the TEP-IP using that connection will go offline instead of failing over. This causes long lasting packet loss for any VM connected to a Segment that is using that TEP. I thought the Host Transport Nodes eventually would stop using the failed Edge Node TEP IP after some time, but I waited 20 minutes without any correction.

This is what the Teaming and failover Policy should look like:

Trunk1 PG

Trunk2 PG
What if you have a fully collapsed cluster with only two physical NICs per host? Meaning NSX Manager, Host Transport Nodes, and NSX Edge VMs are running on a single cluster. You don’t have any regular Trunk PGs on a VDS since you run everything on a single N-VDS. Then you have to create Trunk Segments in NSX-T instead and configure them with an Active/Standby Teaming Policy like this:

I recommend using meaningful names for the Teamings so that you can easily see on the Segments what policy will be used. Note that the opposite uplink is Standby for each Active uplink.

If you run everything on a single VDS 7.0 you may have a mix of regular Trunk PGs and NSX-T Segments on the same VDS. Same rules still apply. In NSX-T 3.1 and later you can use the same VLAN ID for both your Edge Node TEPs and your Host TEPs, but then you need to use Trunk Segments in NSX-T. So there are several options and easy to get it wrong.

One of the reasons people mess this up, is because they want to achieve deterministic peering for their uplink interfaces, meaning they want to peer with ToR Left using physical NIC 1 and peer with ToR Right using physical NIC 2, and they misunderstand how to achieve that. Named Teaming Policies in the Edge Nodes Uplink Profile will handle that and I will link to a document and a few blog posts below that will show you step-by-step how to do this, so don’t worry if you are more confused than ever 🙂

The Edge Nodes Uplink Policy should look similar to this:

Note that there are no Standby Uplinks for the Named Teamings.

VCF 4.x and VVD 6.x also use this design, but it is documented a bit vague, so people still get it wrong. The wording has been improved in VVD 6.2 after me complaining about it, so kudos to VMware for actually reading the feedback given on docs.vmware.com and updating accordingly.

What about VCF where all of this is deployed automatically? Unfortunately, VCF 4.0 also got this wrong, but it was fixed in VCF 4.1, but only when installing it from scratch. If you upgrade an existing VCF 4.0 environment to VCF 4.1 or 4.2, the error remains. Ouch! So, if you have any VCF 4.x installations, please verify the teaming policy before it’s too late. The fix is to manually change the Teaming Policy on both Port Groups.

Simulating a physical NIC failure without involving your Networking team can be done like this:

[root@bgo-lab-esx-01:~] esxcli network nic list
Name    PCI Device    Driver  Admin Status  Link Status  Speed  
------  ------------  ------  ------------  -----------  -----  
vmnic0  0000:06:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic1  0000:07:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic2  0000:08:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic3  0000:09:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
[root@bgo-lab-esx-01:~] esxcli network nic down -n vmnic2
[root@bgo-lab-esx-01:~] esxcli network nic list
Name    PCI Device    Driver  Admin Status  Link Status  Speed  
------  ------------  ------  ------------  -----------  -----  
vmnic0  0000:06:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic1  0000:07:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic2  0000:08:00.0  nenic   Down          Down             0  
vmnic3  0000:09:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
[root@bgo-lab-esx-01:~] esxcli network nic up -n vmnic2
[root@bgo-lab-esx-01:~] esxcli network nic list
Name    PCI Device    Driver  Admin Status  Link Status  Speed  
------  ------------  ------  ------------  -----------  -----  
vmnic0  0000:06:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic1  0000:07:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic2  0000:08:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  
vmnic3  0000:09:00.0  nenic   Up            Up           10000  

Esxtop can be used to see if the Edge Nodes vNIC fails over or not when taking down vmnic2.

Here it shows eth1 not failing over to vmnic3 when having an Active/Unused Teaming Policy:

Here it shows eth1 failed over to vmnic3 when having an Active/Standby Policy:
Here we can see that eth1 failed back to vmnic2 when taking vmnic2 back up:

While speaking of failover and failback testing, I would like to mention another issue that keeps coming up. When taking down one Top of Rack switch, everything fails over to the other physical NIC and we usually see one lost ping. When the switch is taken back up, everything fails back to the recovered physical NIC again, but this time we get a huge amount of packet loss. Why? Because when the switch brings the link back up, ESXi starts failing back after 100 ms, but the switch isn’t ready to forward traffic. How long this takes varies depending on vendor and switch type. We can change the network teaming failback delay to avoid this problem. Normally we change it to 30 000 or 40 000 ms.
 
To modify the TeamPolicyUpDelay, from the vSphere Client go to each ESXi host, Configure > Advanced System Settings > Edit.  Change Net.TeamPolicyUpDelay to 30 000 and test again to see if it works better in your environment.

I hope this post was more helpful than confusing and thanks for reading.
 
Useful links for more information
 
NSX-T Reference Design Guide 3.0
 
NSX-T 3.0 – Edge Design Step-by-Step UI WorkFlow
 
Network Design for the NSX-T Edge Nodes in VMware Validated Design 6.2
 
Single N-VDS per Edge VM
NSX-T Single NVDS Multi-TEP Edge VM Deployment & Configuration on vSphere DVS
NSX-T Single NVDS Multi-TEP Edge VM Deployment & Configuration on Host NVDS Networking
Achieving Deterministic Peering using NSX-T Named Teaming Policies