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NSX-T: Multi-Tiered Routing Architecture

Multi-tenancy exists in some shape or form in almost every network. For an Enterprise network, it can be the separation of tenants based on different business units, departments, different security/network policies or compliance requirements. For a service provider, multi-tenancy can simply be separation of different customers (tenants).

Multi-tenancy doesn’t just allow separation of tenants, but also provides control boundaries as to who controls what. For instance, tenant administrators can control/configure the network and security policies for their specific tenants and a service provider administrator can either provide a shared service or provide inter-tenant or WAN connectivity.

In the logical routing world of NSX-T, this provider function can provide connectivity between the tenant logical networks and  physical infrastructure. It can also provide inter-tenant communication or some shared services (like NAT, Load Balancer etc.) to the tenants.

In my previous post, NSX-T: Routing where you need it (Part 1), I discussed how NSX-T provides optimized E-W distributed routing and N-S centralized routing. In addition to that, NSX-T supports a multi-tiered routing model with logical separation between provider router functions and tenant routing functions. The concept of multi-tenancy is built into the routing model. The top-tier logical router is referred to Continue reading

Context-Aware Micro-segmentation – Remote Desktop Session Host Enhancements for Citrix

In a previous post by my colleague, Stijn, discussed the new changes to how NSX for vSphere 6.4 handles Remote Desktop Session Host, RDSH, systems with the Identity-based Firewall and context-aware micro-segmentation.

RDSH is an underlying technology from Microsoft that many vendors take advantage of to provide overlay management and application deployment technologies for.  In this post, we’re going to discuss how NSX 6.4 and the new changes to support RDSH hosts works with Citrix XenApp systems.

Citrix XenApp can provide multiple users the ability to connect to a single system to access their applications using the RDSH technology.  These users can be of the same type, for example all HR users, or of multiple types, HR and Engineering users.  NSX has supported User Identity based firewalling for Virtual Desktops since the 6.0 release, but it did not address RDSH in which multiple user sessions are connecting to the same host  This meant less flexibility in controlling what users could access data center application servers without isolating one set of users to one RDSH server.  This model created a very rigid architecture for XenApp customers to follow, which brought about the use of Continue reading

Introducing VMware NSX-T Reference Design

Available now is the VMware NSX-T Reference Design Guide, a deployment path to adopting NSX with diverse multi-domain workload requirements – multi-cloud (private/public), multi-hypervisor, and multiple application frameworks (VMs, PaaS and containers).

 

Since VMware acquired Nicira almost five years ago, NSX for vSphere has become de-facto standard for private cloud solutions, delivering key use cases in private cloud – namely security, automation and application continuity.  Since then, we’ve witnessed our customers datacenter and workload requirements changing; therefore, the demand for a platform that not only can deliver current private cloud requirements, but now many enterprises are looking for integration with the likes of cloud native apps, public/hybrid cloud, and other compute domains covering multiple hypervisors.

VMware NSX-T was introduced last year to meet the demands of the containerized workload, multi-hypervisor and multi-cloud. The NSX-T platform is focused on a diverse set of use cases – from private to public, traditional (multi-tiered architecture) to container (microservices architecture) based apps, automation and monitoring of security at IaaS, to programmatic devops workloads in PaaS and CaaS environments.  It is very important to start with an understanding of NSX-T architecture and its components, and some topics (ex. routing) have been discussed Continue reading

Context-Aware Micro-segmentation – Remote Desktop Session Host Enhancements for VMware Horizon

In a previous post my colleague, Stijn, discussed the enhancements to how NSX for vSphere 6.4 handles Remote Desktop Session Host, RDSH, systems with the Identity-based Firewall and Context-Aware Micro-segmentation.

Remote Desktop Services is an underlying technology from Microsoft that many vendors take advantage of to provide overlay management and application deployment technologies for.  In this post, we’re going to discuss how NSX for vSphere 6.4 allows customers to run RDS hosts with granular security for VMware Horizon systems.

VMware Horizon can provide multiple users the ability to connect to a single system to access their applications using the RDSH technology.  These users can be of the same type, for example all HR users, or of multiple types, HR and Engineering users.  In previous versions of NSX, it was not possible to individually secure user sessions and create Distributed Firewall (DFW) rule sets according to the user session logged into an RDSH server.  This meant less flexibility in controlling what users could access data center application servers without isolating one set of users to one RDSH server.  This model created a very rigid architecture for Horizon customers to follow.

Horizon allows customers Continue reading

Context-Aware Micro-segmentation – an innovative approach to Application and User Identity Firewall

Summary: With Context-awareness, NSX for vSphere 6.4 enables customers to enforce policy based on Application and Protocol Identification and expands the Identity Firewall support to Multiple User Sessions.

A few weeks ago, VMware released version 6.4 of NSX for vSphere.  The 6.4 release brings many new features, with Context-awareness being key from a security perspective.  Micro-segmentation enables East-West security controls, and is a key building block to a secure datacenter. Context-awareness builds-on and expands Micro-segmentation by  enabling customers even more fine-grained visibility and control.  NSX has supported the use infrastructure or application-centric constructs such as Security Groups based on criteria like VM name or OS version, or Dynamic Security Tags describing things like the workload function, the environment it’s deployed in, or any compliance requirements the workload falls under, enabling fine-grained control and allowing customers to automate the lifecycle of a security policy from the time an application is provisioned to the time it’s decommissioned. Prior to 6.4, rules with  infrastructure or application-centric grouping constructs on the Management plane, are eventually translated to 5-tuple based rules in the dataplane.

Figure: NSX drives policy based on Network, User and Workload Context

A crucial aspect of Context-awareness Continue reading

Top 5 From The Last 3 Months

 

In today’s day and age, content is king. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the deluge of information, especially in the tech space where change is constant. We’re aware that the struggle is real. To keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest in networking, we’ve compiled a round-up blog of the top posts from the past few months.

 

VMware Closes Acquisition of VeloCloud Networks

 In December, VMware NSX completed its acquisition of VeloCloud Networks, bringing their industry-leading, cloud-delivered SD-WAN solution to our own growing software-based networking portfolio. The acquisition of VeloCloud significantly advances our strategy of enabling customers to run, manage, connect and secure any application on any cloud to any device. Learn all about the acquisition from SVP and GM, Networking and Security Business Unit Jeff Jennings.

VMware SDDC with NSX Expands to AWS

With VMware Cloud on AWS, customers can now leverage the best of both worlds – the leading compute, storage and network virtualization stack enabling enterprises for SDDC can now all be enabled with a click of a button on dedicated, elastic, bare-metal and highly available AWS infrastructure. Bonus: because it’s a managed service by VMware, customers can focus on the Continue reading

Rapid Micro-segmentation using Application Rule Manager Recommendation Engine

Customers understand the need for micro-segmentation and benefits it provides to enhance the security posture within their datacenter. However, one of the challenges for a Security admin is how to define micro-segmentation policies for applications owned and managed by application teams. This is even more challenging especially when you have tens or hundreds of unique applications in your data center, all of which use different port and protocols and resources across the cluster. The traditional manual perimeter firewall policy modeling may not be ideal and may not be able to scale for the micro-segmentation of your applications as it would be error-prone, complex and time consuming.

NSX addresses the how & where to start micro-segmentation challenge by providing the built-in tool called Application Rule Manager (ARM), to automate the application profiling and the onboarding of applications with micro-segmentation policies. NSX ARM has been part of NSX, since the NSX 6.3.0 release but here we will talk about Application Rule Manager (ARM) enhancement, Recommendation Engine, introduced as part of NSX 6.4.0 release. This enhancement allows you to do Rapid Micro-segmentation to your data center application by recommending “ready to consume” workload grouping & firewall policy rules.

To Continue reading

Free 5-Part Webcast Series on NSX

 

Mark your calendars now for this free VMware NSX: Things You Need to Know webcast series presented by VMware Education Services. Each 60-minute session is delivered by VMware Certified Instructors and offered at 3 different times so you can choose what works for your schedule.

  • Feb 1: Simplify Network Provisioning with Logical Routing and Switching using VMware NSX
  • Feb 22: Automate Your Network Services Deployments with VMware NSX and vRealize Automation
  • Mar 8: Design Multi-Layered Security in the Software-Defined Datacenter using VMware vSphere 6.5 and VMware NSX 6.4
  • Mar 29: Advanced VMware NSX: Demystifying the VTEP, MAC, and ARP Tables
  • Apr 19: That Firewall Did What? Advanced Troubleshooting for the VMware NSX Distributed Firewall

RSVP for one or all five here. (See below for more info.)


Feb 1:
Simplify Network Provisioning with Logical Routing and Switching using VMware NSX
Did you know it’s possible to extend LANs beyond their previous boundaries and optimize routing in the data center? Or decouple virtual networkoperations from your physical environment to literally eliminate potential network disruptions for future deployments? Join us to learn how VMware NSX can make these a reality. We’ll also cover the networking components of NSX to Continue reading

VMware NSX for vSphere 6.4 Eases Operations, Improves Application Security with Context

Summary: Generally available today, VMware NSX for vSphere 6.4 raises the bar for application security and planning, and introduces context-aware micro-segmentation

For those working in security, thinking and talking about the cyber threats in the world is a constant, a necessary evil. So, for a moment, let’s summon a better time to our memory. Remember when breaches didn’t keep us up at night? The threat of a breach didn’t hang over our heads with an associated cost of millions of dollars and the privacy of our users. In fact, it did, but they weren’t frequent or public enough to cause the awakening that they do today. We put up a wall at the perimeter to keep the bad guys out, and prayed.

OK, back to modern times. Today, we know the story is much different, for better and for worse. Breaches are more prevalent, but our defenses are more sophisticated and more importantly, they’re continuously evolving (just like the breaches). One major piece of this newer defense picture is micro-segmentation. With micro-segmentation, security policies traditionally only enforced at the perimeter are now brought down to the application. Micro-segmentation has gained massive traction and entered the mainstream, with most cloud Continue reading

NSX-T: OpenAPI and SDKs

Nowadays everything is about automation. Organizations are moving away from the traditional static infrastructure to full automation and here the need of NSX is significant. There are many use-cases for NSX, but the common in all of them is that they all need to be automated.

VMware is investing heavenly for different tools to ease the automation aspect of NSX but in order to take full advantage of it one need to understand what happens under the hood. It is also important if someone wants to build their own custom automation tool or CMP (Cloud Management Platform). Many existing solutions like Openstack, Kubernetes, vRO and so on automate NSX-T using different plugins. In fact, those plugins are sending REST API calls to NSX Manager in order to automate logical topology CRUD(Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations.

Based on our experience we decided that NSX-T APIs will be based on JSON format following OpenAPI standard. The use of Open APIs is to enable third party developers to build applications and services around NSX-T by standardising on how REST APIs are described. This means one can use standard tools like Swagger to read and use those APIs. Below is a quick example from my Mac on Continue reading

NSX-T: Routing where you need it (Part 2, North-South Routing)

In the first part of this blog series, NSX-T: Routing where you need it (Part 1), I discussed how East-West (E-W) routing is completely distributed on NSX-T and how routing is done by the Distributed Router (DR) running as a kernel module in each hypervisor. 

In this post, I will explain how North-South (N-S) routing is done in NSX-T and we will also look at the ECMP topologies. This N-S routing is provided by the centralized component of logical router, also known as Service Router. Before we get into the N-S routing or packet walk, let’s define Service Router.

Service Router (SR)

Whenever a service which cannot be distributed is enabled on a Logical Router, a Service Router (SR) is instantiated. There are some services today on NSX-T which are not distributed such as:

1) Connectivity to physical infrastructure
2) NAT
3) DHCP server
4) MetaData Proxy
5) Edge Firewall
6) Load Balancer

Let’s take a look at one of these services (connectivity to physical devices) and see why a centralized routing component makes sense for running this service. Connectivity to physical topology is intended to exchange routing information from NSX domain to external networks (DC, Campus or Continue reading

VMware NSX Micro-segmentation – Horizon 7

Organizations that embark on the journey of building our virtual desktop environments, are taking traditionally external endpoints and bringing them into the data center.  These endpoints are now closer and most times, reside on the same networking infrastructure as the backend application servers that they may access. These endpoints run Windows or even Linux desktop operating systems with multiple end-users that can access them. Malicious attacks that would traditionally take place outside the data center should an end-user find their desktop or laptop machine infected, could now take place on their virtual desktops inside the data center.  With physical equipment, it’s easy to isolate the physical desktop or laptop and remediate the attack.  Securing virtual desktop environments requires a different approach, but not one that’s unattainable.  Securing an end user computing deployments is one of the primary security use cases for VMware NSX and can help provide a layered approach to securing virtual desktop workloads in the data center.

The NSX platform covers several business cases for securing an end user computing deployment.  Each of these use cases, helps provide a multi-layered approach to ensure end user endpoints are as secure as possible in the Continue reading

Enhancing NSX with Check Point vSEC

While VMware NSX enables micro-segmentation of the Software Defined Data Center, it mostly polices traffic in layers 3 and 4, with only limited application level (layer 7) support.  Sometimes additional layers of protection are needed for use cases such as Secure DMZ or meeting regulatory compliance requirements like PCI, in which case partner solutions can be added to the platform, with traffic steered into the supplemental solution prior to reaching the vSwitch (virtual wire).  The resulting combination is high throughput due to the scale-out nature of NSX, but can also provide deep traffic analysis from the partner solution.

The usual enemy of deep traffic inspection in the data center is bandwidth.  NSX addresses this issue, micro-segmentation security policy is zero trust – only traffic explicitly permitted out of a VM can pass, then steering policy to 3rd party solutions can be designed in order that bulk protocols such as storage and backup bypass them, leaving a more manageable amount of traffic for Check Point vSEC to provide IPS, anti-virus and anti-malware protection on, including Check Point’s Sandblast Zero-Day Protection against zero day attacks.

The connection between vSEC and NSX enables dynamic threat tagging, where traffic from an VM reaches Continue reading

“Building NSX Powered Clouds and Data Centers for SMBs” is available now

I am honored and humbled to announce my new book “Building NSX Powered Clouds and Data Centers for Small and Medium Businesses”.

 

 

Building VMware NSX Powered Clouds and DCs for SMB Book Cover Page

 

This is a concise book that provides step by step information to design and deploy NSX in Small and Medium size data centers. My aim for writing this book is to give architects and engineers the necessary tools and techniques to transform their data center from legacy architecture to software defined (SDN) architecture. The SDN architecture is the foundation to build the private cloud.

The book has about 90 pages covering following topics:

  • NSX and SMB data center introduction
  • Important vSphere design considerations
  • vSphere cluster design and NSX deployment models
  • NSX individual component design and deployment considerations
  • NSX Operations: monitoring and troubleshooting
  • Growing NSX deployments

Many technology vendors tend to focus efforts in the large data center space, the fact remains that the small/medium business (SMB) space represents a substantial part of the IT marketplace.

The book is available to purchase from NSX Store.
Electronic version of the book can be downloaded from here.

The post “Building NSX Powered Clouds and Data Centers for SMBs” is available now appeared first on Network Virtualization.

VMware Cloud on AWS with NSX: Communicating with Native AWS Resources

If you haven’t already, please read my prior two blogs on VMware Cloud on AWS: VMware SDDC with NSX Expands to AWS and VMware Cloud on AWS with NSX – Connecting SDDCs Across Different AWS Regions; also posted on my personal blog at humairahmed.com. The prior blogs provide a good intro and information of some of the functionality and advantages of the service. In this blog post I expand the discussion to the advantages of VMware Cloud on AWS being able to communicate with native AWS resources. This is something that would be desired if you have native AWS EC2 instances you want VMware Cloud on AWS workloads to communicate with or if you want to leverage other native AWS services like AWS S3 VPC Endpoint or RDS. Continue reading

Getting More Out Of NSX Webcast Series

 

Each episode in this Getting More Out of NSX webcast series has its own topic, so there is no need to watch each episode to understand the next one. The episodes cover a variety of NSX features and explain in detail how NSX is the solution to key challenges faced by IT professionals. With the use of product demos, our NSX experts will show you how NSX allows granular control on an application by application basis to achieve the dream of universal security across the network. You will learn about:

  • NSX optimization for performance – how NSX eliminates the need for agent management and overprovisioning, thus reducing costs
  • NSX automated ubiquitous deployment & enforcement
  • NSX simplified policy management & automation across services

 

Now Available On-Demand

Episode 1: Deep Dive into NSX Service Composer, covered the mapping of applications, adding context to your Security Policy, and the NSX Service Composer and Application Rule Manager. Episode 2: Micro-segmentation Preparation and Planning with vRNI, covered how to perform Plan Security around Applications, build rulesets from Recommendations from vRNI, and verify rules compliance.

There is no need to watch Episodes 1 and 2 to understand Episodes 3 and 4 as each episode has its own topic. Episodes 1 and 2 can be accessed here.

 

Upcoming

Continue reading

Fortinet FortiGate-VMX and NSX use cases

NSX is an extensible platform; other vendors security solutions can be added to it by means of the Northbound REST API, and two private APIs: NETX for network introspection, and EPSEC for guest introspection.

Fortinet’s FortiGate-VMX solution uses the NSX NETX API to provide advanced layer 4-7 services via service insertion, also called service chaining.  This enables the additional inspection of VM traffic prior to that traffic reaching the vSwitch.  This enhances micro-segmentation where there is need for greater application recognition, anti-malware, and other Next Generation Firewall features.  The scale-out nature of NSX is maintained as NSX handles the instantiation of FortiGate service VMs on the hosts within the deployed cluster retaining its operational advantages, if the cluster grows additional FortiGate-VMX service machines will be created as needed.

 

 

One of the primary advantages to FortiGate-VMX is the availability of VDOMs for multi-tenancy in a service provider or enterprise environment – this enables segmenting traffic by organization, business group, or other construct in addition to application.  The segregation includes the administration, VDOMs are managed independently of one another, this can also be used to split the different security functions such as anti-virus, IPS, and application control into isolated units or only Continue reading

VMware AppDefense & CB Defense Demo

As you may have heard, VMware and Carbon Black have come together to deliver best-in-class security architected for today’s data centers.

In this demo, you’ll see an example of how CB Defense and VMware AppDefense combine to enforce known good application behavior and detect threats using industry leading detection and response technology.

For this demo, we’ll show how an advanced security breach can come in under the guise of an innocuous application (Powershell) and often go undetected.  We’ll walk through the steps that security teams can now take to respond and address the attack all in one application.

 

The post VMware AppDefense & CB Defense Demo appeared first on Network Virtualization.

VMware Cloud on AWS with NSX: Connecting SDDCs Across Different AWS Regions

I prior shared this post on the LinkedIN publishing platform and my personal blog at HumairAhmed.com. In my prior blog post, I discussed how with VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC on AWS) customers get the best of both worlds for their move to a Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) – the leading compute, storage, and network virtualization stack for enterprises deployed on dedicated, elastic, bare-metal, and highly available AWS infrastructure. Another benefit of VMC on AWS, and the focus of this post, is that you can easily have a global footprint by deploying multiple VMC SDDCs in different regions. Continue reading

Terminology Tuesday Presents: Data Gravity

Data Gravity is a concept first coined by Dave McCrory to describe the tendency of data to attract more data, applications and services.  As you may have guessed from the name, this principle has many parallels to Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation.

 

The basic premise is that a singular piece of data isn’t meaningful but with more data (metadata as it’s generally called) additional context (and therefore more meaning) can be derived.  When all that data is bundled with more applications and services, one can harness a considerable amount of power as evidenced by today’s trends towards data and analytics.

 

For example, let’s take this piece of data: 0.  Although we know what zero means conceptually, we don’t have any way to determine how we should feel about it.  Without any context just knowing the number 0 is essentially worthless.  If, for instance you were to know the additional data of “inventory of toy Elmos” + [insert where you live] you’d know that you need to make an only order and ASAP.

 

Data for larger institutions is just like this, except the concept of “friction” plays a larger role.  Data Friction Continue reading

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