Building NSX-T 3.1 Home lab Step 1

I’m doing a mini-series on my NSX-T home lab setup. It’s only for testing en knowledge about NXS-T.

With newer versions of NSX-T 3.1 and later a couple of enhancements have been made that makes the setup a lot easier, like the move to a single N-VDS with the ability to run NSX on a Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS) in vCenter with VDS version 7.0.

In NSX-T 3.11 we got the ability to have the Edge TEP on the same subnet as the hypervisor TEP. A nice write-up of this feature can be found here: https://www.virten.net/2020/11/nsx-t-3-1-enhancement-shared-esxi-and-edge-transport-vlan-with-a-single-uplink/

Lab environment

First let’s have a quick look at the lab environment:

Compute

I have 1 have one ESXi Server Dell Server R730. I use only one nic for Management en Virtual Machine Traffic.

Network

My home network consists of single VLAN

VLAN

Subnet

Role

Virtual Switch

0

192.168.150.0/24

Management/Virtual Machine Traffic

vSwitch0

 Also ensure you enable the required security settings to support nested virtualization:

Virtual Machines

I run a virtualized vSphere 7 Cluster on my host

Afbeelding met tekst

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

The Distributed Virtual Switches are running version 7.0.0 which let’s us deploy NSX-T on the VDS directly.

Afbeelding met tekst

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Afbeelding met tafel

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Preparations

Check out the NSX-T Data Center Workflow for vSphere for details and documentation on the process

IP Addresses and DNS records

Before deploying NSX-T in the environment I’ve prepared a few IP addresses and DNS records

Role

IP

NSX Manager

192.168.150.229

NSX-T Edge node 1

192.168.150.227

NSX-T Edge node 2 (currently not in use)

192.168.150.228

NSX-T T0 GW Interface 1

192.168.99.2

Note that I’ve reserved addresses for a second Edge which I’m not going to use at the moment.

Deploy NSX manager appliance

VMware documentation reference

The NSX manager appliance has been downloaded and imported the OVF to the cluster. I won’t go into details about this, I just followed the deployment wizard.

In my lab I’ve selected to deploy a small appliance which requires 4 vCPUs, 16 GB RAM and 300 GB disk space. For more details about the NSX Manager requirements look at the official documentation

Note that I’ll not be deploying a NSX Manager cluster in my setup. In a production environment you should naturally follow best practices and configure a cluster of NSX Managers

NSX-T deployment

Now let’s get rocking with our NSX-T setup!

We’ll start the NSX manager and prepare it for configuring NSX in the environment

Initial Manager config

After first login I’ll accept the EULA and optionally enable the CEIP

License

Next I’ll add the license.

Add license

Import certificate

Imported certificates

IP Pools

Our Endpoints will need IP addresses and I’ve set aside a subnet for this as mentioned. In NSX Manager we’ll add an IP pool with addresses from this subnet. (The IP pool I’m using is probably way larger than needed in a lab setup like this)

Afbeelding met tekst, schermafbeelding, monitor

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

TEP pool

Compute Manager

With all that sorted we’ll connect the NSX manager to our vCenter server so we can configure our ESXi hosts and deploy our edge nodes.

Best is a specific service account for the connection

Afbeelding met tekst, monitor, schermafbeelding, scherm

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Compute Manager added

Fabric configuration

Now we’re ready for building out our network fabric which will consist of the following:

Transport Zones

Overlay

VLAN

Transport Nodes

ESXi Hosts

Edge VMs

Edge clusters

Take a look at this summary of the Key concepts in NSX-T to learn more about them.

Transport Zone

The first thing we’ll create are the Transport Zones. These will be used later on multiple occasions later on. A Transport Zone is used as a collection of hypervisor hosts that makes up the span of logical switches.

The defaults could be used, but I like to create my own.

Afbeelding met tekst, monitor, schermafbeelding, scherm

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Transport Zones

Uplink Profiles

Uplink profiles will be used when we configure our Transport Nodes, both Hosts and Edge VMs. The profile defines how a Host Transport node (hypervisor) or an Edge Transport node (VM) will connect to the physical network.

Again I’m creating my own profile and leave the default profiles be as they are.

Afbeelding met tekst, monitor, zwart, schermafbeelding

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Uplink profile

In my environment I have only one Uplink to use. Note that I’ve set the Transport VLAN to 0 which also corresponds with the TEP VLAN mentioned previously.

Transport Node Profile

Although not strictly needed, I’m creating a Transport Node profile which will let me configure an entire cluster of hosts with the same settings instead of having to configure each and every host

In the Transport Node profile we first select the type of Host switch. In my case I’m selecting the VDS option, which will let me select a specific switch in vCenter.

We’ll also add in our newly created Transport Zones

Afbeelding met tekst

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Creating Transport Node profile

We’ll select our Uplink profile and our IP Pool which we created earlier, finally we can set the mapping between the Uplinks

vCenter View

Creating Transport Node profile

Configure NSX on hosts

With our Transport Node profile we can go ahead and configure our ESXi hosts for NSX

Configure cluster for NSX

Afbeelding met tekst

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Select profile

After selecting the profile NSX Manager will go ahead and configure our ESXi hosts.

Hosts configuring

After a few minutes our hosts should be configured and ready for NSX

Afbeelding met tekst, schermafbeelding, monitor, scherm

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Hosts configured

Trunk segment

Next up is to create our Edge VMs which we will need for our Gateways and Services (NAT, DHCP, Load Balancer).

But before we deploy those we’ll have to create a segment for the uplink of the Edge VMs. This will be a Trunk segment which we create in NSX. Initially I created a Trunk portgroup on the VDS in vSphere, but that doesn’t work. The Trunk needs to be configured as a logical segment in NSX-T when using the same VLAN for both the Hypervisor TEPs and the Edge VM TEPs

Afbeelding met tekst

Automatisch gegenereerde beschrijving

Trunk segment

Edge VM

Now we can deploy our Edge VM(s). I’m using Medium sized VMs in my environment. Note that the Edge VMs is not strictly necessary for the test we’ll perform later on with connecting two VMs, but if we want to use some services later on, like DHCP, Load balancing and so on we’ll need them.

Deploy edge VM

Deploy edge VM

Note the NSX config, where we set the switch name, the Transport Zones we created, the Uplink profile, the IP pool and finally we use the newly created Trunk segment for the Edge uplink

NSX Edge config

Edge cluster

We’ll also create an Edge cluster and add the Edge VM to it

Edge cluster

Summary

Wow, this was a lot of configuring, but that was also the whole point of doing this blog post. Stuff like this is learnt best while getting your hands dirty and do some actual work. And I learn even better when I’m writing and documenting it as well.

In the next blog post we’ll test the fabric to see if what we’ve done is working. We’ll also try to get some external connectivity to our environment.

Hopefully this post can help someone, if not it has at least helped me.

Thanks for reading!

Special thnx for https://rudimartinsen.com/2021/06/29/nsx-t-31-homelab/ for his blog post

Removal of SD card/USB as a standalone boot device option after vSphere 7.x

On the 16th of September, a KB article was published by VMware, which contains statements of Removal of SD card/USB as a standalone boot device option.

USB/SD is not the right choice going forward! Why? The volume of reads/writes to and from the OS-DATA partition continues to increase with every release, which means that the lower grade devices will simply wear out faster.

Options for future versions of ESXi ( after 7.x)

When you buy new hardware make sure to have a proper persistent storage device,
Like a Dell Boss Card card  or HPE OS boot Devices

Options for 7.x

What are the fixes that will help with SD/USB issues that customers are seeing?
https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/83963
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/rn/vsphere-esxi-70u2c-release-notes.html
  (Please look for USB device and Storage stack issues fixed with this release)

SD Card Boot issue Solution in ESXi 7.x

Issue The host goes into an un-responsive state due to: “Bootbank cannot be found at path ‘/bootbank” and boot device is in an APD state.

This issue is seen due to the boot device failing to respond & enter APD state (All paths down). Some cases, Host goes to non-responsive state & shows disconnected from vCenter.

As of 7.0 Update 1, the format of the ESX-OSData boot data partition has been changed. Instead of using FAT it is using a new format called VMFS-L. This new format allows much more and faster I/O to the partition. The level of read and write traffic is overwhelming and corrupting many less capable SD cards.

The action plan for future resolution would be to replace the SD card/s with a capable device/disk. Per the best practices mentioned on Installation guide.

The version 7.0 Update 2 VMware ESXi Installation and Setup Guide, page 19, specifically says “As even read-only workloads can cause problems on low-end flash devices, you should install ESXi only on high-endurance flash media“.

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/vsphere-esxi-702-installation-setup-guide.pdf

You can also refer to the below KB:

Reference: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/83376?lang=en_US

Resolution

VMware engineering has a fix that will be in the next release.  Planned for July 2021.

https://communities.vmware.com/t5/ESXi-Discussions/SD-Boot-issue-Solution-in-7-x/m-p/2852027

https://www.provirtualzone.com/vsphere-7-update-2-loses-connection-with-sd-cards-workaround/

Translate »