VMware NSX-T: Step-by-Step Installation Guide
One of the best tools for network virtualization and data security has become VMware NSX-T. If you’re considering deploying NSX-T to manage virtualization and security in your cloud, data center, or container deployment, it can be a potentially daunting task. Additionally, with your data and network at stake, you want to make sure it’s done correctly, with as few complications as possible, so that downtime can be minimized and security maximized.
We’re going to dig into more about VMware NSX-T, what it does, and what it’s used for. Then, we’ll look at some of the biggest benefits of a VMware NSX-T deployment, and the differences between NSX and NSX-T. Once we’ve covered that, we’ll move into our step-by-step VMware NSX-T installation guide. As a bonus, we’ll look at what it takes to become VMware NSX-T certified, as well as what it’s going to cost if you want to add that credential to your repertoire.
What is VMware NSX-T & How Does it work?
VMware NSX-T is an SDN, or Software-Defined Networking, solution that provides network virtualization and security across a wide range of applications, such as data centers or cloud environments. It can create entirely virtual networks that are managed completely by software interfacing, it also enables the management of these virtual networks to be completely decoupled from physical network architecture.
The way VMware NSX-T works is by adding what’s known as an “abstraction layer” to the existing networking infrastructure. This abstraction layer is created between the physical networking configuration, and the virtual network infrastructure, and allows completely virtual networks to be created and even managed entirely independently of the underlying physical network and its included limitations. This has the benefits of being more flexible, agile, and secure, making it ideal for modern data facilities or cloud centers.
What is NSX-T used for?
VMware NSX-T is used primarily for network visualization in data facilities like cloud centers, data centers, and more. It can provide a range of advanced networking security features, including distributed firewalls, micro-segmentation, and even network threat detection and automated responses. Additionally, it allows different virtual networks to be created and even independently managed, regardless of the structure of the underlying network. It’s often used to gain greater flexibility and security in a data center.
Benefits of VMware NSX-T
While there are many potential benefits that VMware NSX-T can bring to your business, many of them may be unique to your specific business and industry, but there are also some that are common benefits that can be seen across all deployments. Here’s a breakdown of the most significant of those:
Increased Agility & Flexibility
Since there is no link needed between physical architecture, VMware NSX-T allows networks to be created in any size or shape and allows those networks to be managed independently of any other couplings or infrastructure components. This makes the networks created by VMware NSX-T some of the most flexible and agile, which is crucial for scalability.
NSX-T is able to enhance security by offering several advanced network safety features that help enhance the safety and security of modern data centers and cloud environments. These features include micro-segmentation, distributed firewalls, and automatic network threat detection and response. All of which help boost the security of modern cloud centers and data-handling environments.
Improved Network Performance
Since NSX-T allows infinitely customizable networks, those networks can be specifically built and optimized to meet the needs of any modern data center. This allows networks to be treated as living, evolving entities, improving overall network performance and reducing latency.
Reduced Network Complexity
NSX-T helps to simplify overall network management by providing a single interface for managing countless virtual networks as well as physical ones. This is another factor that can help boost performance, but it also lowers the overall network complexity and allows more straightforward network management. All nodes, networks, and computers can be monitored on a single monitor.
Difference between NSX & NSX-T
Both NSX-T and NSX are both software-defined networking solutions from VMware, and both of them allow for network virtualization and security, but there are some important differences between the two. These are also core to their functionality and will be important to anyone considering the deployment of either software suite.
NSX is designed specifically for use with VMware’s existing vSphere virtualization platform, while NSX-T is designed to be useful across a much wider range of potential virtualization platforms. NSX-T can integrate with KVM, Docker, and OpenStack.
Additionally, NSX-T provides a greater degree of flexibility and agility with more modern data centers, since it enables virtual networks that can be created and managed completely independently of the currently existing network infrastructure. It also has a selection of useful network security features, which NSX lacks.
Step-by-Step Installation Guide
Let’s get into what the actual deployment process is going to look like, but before we do, ensure that your deployment environment meets some basic requirements, including:
- At least one running instance of vCenter Server v6.5 or later
- At least four vCPUs, 16GB RAM, and 60GB of free space
- At least two network interface cards that are available for exclusive use by the NSX Manager instance
Once you’ve verified that your system meets these requirements, you can jump right into the first step, downloading your OVA file.
Step 1: Download the NSX-T OVA file
The first step of an NSX-T installation is to download the latest version of the NSX-T OVA file from the official VMware website. You will need to log in with your existing VMware credentials to access the download page.
Step 2: Deploy the NSX-T Manager OVA file
After the OVA file download has finished, you will be able to deploy the NSX-T Manager virtual appliance via the vSphere Client or vSphere Web Client. During the deployment process, you’ll need to specify some basic settings, including:
- The name of the virtual appliance
- The datastore where the virtual appliance is stored
- The network settings for the virtual appliance, like the IP address, subnet mask, and the default gateway
- The root password for the virtual appliance
Step 3: Configure the NSX-T Manager
Once the NSX-T Manager virtual appliance is running, you will need to perform additional configuration steps using the manager’s UI. This is where you’ll configure the hostname and DNS settings for your NSX-T Manager, set up the connection to your specific vCenter Server instance, and configure the NSX-T Manager IP address poll.
Step 4: Install NSX-T Data Center components
After the Manager has been configured and connected to the server instance, you will need to install the various NSX-T Data Center components. This includes NSX-T Manager, NSX-T Edge nodes, and NSX-T Transport nodes.
Additionally, during installation, you’ll need to specify a few additional settings for your NSX-T deployment. You will need to specify what component you’re currently installing, and the corresponding network settings for that particular component.
Step 5: Configure NSX-T Data Center
Following the successful installation of all NSX-T Data Center components, you will need to configure NSX-T Data Center using the NSX-T Manager interface. This is where you will not only configure the NSX-T Transport zones and segments, but the edge node settings, and transport node settings. For the edge node settings, you’ll need to specify load balancer rules and NAT rules, while the transport nodes will require settings that include network adapters and VLAN settings.
VMware NSX-T Exam Overview
If you’re interested in working with VMware more consistently by becoming certified in VMware NSX-T, there are two primary education or certification tracks that you can follow. One option is the VMware Certified Technical Associate. The other is a VMware Certified Professional.
NSX-T Certification Requirements
Depending on what certification is wanted, there are different levels of training that are required.
The VMware Certified Technical Associate will need to pass the VMware Certified Technical Associate – Digital Workspace exam, and the VMware NSX-T Data Center 2.4 Foundations exam.
To pursue the VMware Certified Professional, you will need to pass the VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization exam, as well as the VMware NSX-T Data Center 3.0 exam.
NSX-T Certification Cost
You’ll have a different cost to your training depending on which certification level you’re seeking, but compared to many other technical certifications, NSX-T is relatively affordable.
The cost of the VCTA – NSX-T Data Center certification exams is $125 per exam, and the cost of the VCP – NSX-T Data Center certification exams is $250 per exam. This applies to all people taking those tests.
So there you have it, VMware NSX-T is one of the more powerful software-defined networking solutions available today, and while designed specifically for distributed networking applications, it can also provide leading network security and other popular features. This makes it a great overall choice for anyone looking to increase network security.
By sticking to our step-by-step guide, you’ll be sure to maximize your preparedness and minimize the chances of complications or issues during your deployment. If you find you enjoy it, look into getting certified, it could open significant doors of opportunity for you.