Using NSX-T to Test NSX-T and Virtual Machine Recovery with Automation – Practical

Part 1 – Windows SFTP Backup Targets

Part 2a – Using NSX-T to Test NSX-T and Virtual Machine Recovery with Automation – Concept

Part 2b –Using NSX-T to Test NSX-T and Virtual Machine Recovery with Automation – Practical

In Part 2a, the Healthcare organization admins had created several scripts using VMware PowerCLI, PowerShell Core 6, OVF Tool, and NSX-T Policy REST APIs.  Those scripts are located at the following GitHub link for other community admins to consume as well.

The original requirements that were put forth for the admins to provide a design for were:

Requirements:

  1. Use NSX-T to build a production replica network to test restores of the NSX-T Manager and show virtual machines can also be restored and tested on the same network
  2. Use Veeam to restore the following virtual machines:
    1. Backup Server – Will be used to run automation scripts from
    2. Active Directory – Will be needed for DNS purposes
    3. SFTP Server – Hosts the NSX-T backups that restores will be tested from
  3. Deploy a new NSX-T Manager to test the restore process to it
  4. Use automation wherever possible to continue expanding automated techniques

To meet these requirements the admin had designed the following topology to meet these requirements:

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  • Standalone Tier-1 Gateway – not connected to any Tier-0 Gateway, preventing northbound communications that would conflict with the production networking
  • Restore Network Segment – Provides a logical network for the restored VMs to attach to
  • Restored Domain Controller – One of the organizations domain controllers that will provide DNS for the replica network and the VMs attached
  • Restored Backup Server – Hosts the PowerShell scripts that are necessary for scripting part of the deployment on the restored NSX-T Manager. Some of the scripts will need to be run from the Production Backup Server and some of them from the Restored Backup Server since there will be no outside communications to the Restore environment other than vCenter Server direct console access
  • Restored SFTP Server – Hosts the backups of the NSX-T Manager
  • Restored NSX-T Manager – Will be used to test its own restores. NSX-T Manager restores requires that the new NSX-T Manager have the same IP address as the production copy.  To test this appropriately, we have to create a copy of the production network and IP addressing
  • vCenter Server B – Manages the Compute Cluster B
  • Compute Cluster B – Provides a non-production host for the restored systems to be placed on that’s not managed by the production vCenter Server A.

For further details on reasonings for this topology, you can take a look at Part 2a referenced at the top of this thread.

With the scripts created, it’s now time for the admin to work through the workflow processes and test that this strategy will meet the requirements in practice.  This is a review of the workflow process:

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Step 1 – Copy scripts to BACKUP-01a – GitHub download and copy

The scripts just need to be pulled down from GitHub and copied to a location on the BACKUP-01a server

Step 2 – Copy NSX-T OVA to BACKUP-01a – Download and copy

Another straightforward step with downloading the NSX-T OVA that’s the exact version of the current NSX-T Manager and copying it to a location on BACKUP-01a

Step 3 – Install PowerShell Core 6, PowerCLI, and OVFTool – Download installs and install

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Step 4 – Perform a Backup of the NSX-T Manager – Native Backup Tool

A pretty simple step by just going into the NSX-T Manager and the Backup & Restore tab and pressing the ‘BACKUP NOW’ button and verifying its completion.

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Step 5 – Backup SFTP-01a, AD-01a, BACKUP-01a – Single Veeam Backup Job

Once all of the components to perform the remaining workflows are done and installed and configured, the backups of the necessary virtual machines, especially the BACKUP-01a machine, can occur.

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Step 6 and 7 – Deploy Testing Tier-1 Gateway and Segment – NSX-T Policy API via PowerCLI

From the BACKUP-01a production server, the admin runs the 01_NSXT_DEPLOY.ps1 to build the Tier-1 Gateway and Segment and then it will start the OVF Tool to deploy the NSX-T Manager OVA file to the Compute Cluster B.

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Tier-1 Gateway has been created, not linked to a Tier-0 Gateway to prevent Northbound connectivity with the overlapping production network and ‘nsxt-restore-segment’ created for the virtual machines and new NSX-T Manager to attach to.

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The admin can also see that the new NSX-T Manager, connected to the ‘nsxt-restore-segment’ is being deployed.

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Step 8 – Adjust NSX-T CPU/Mem Resources and Power-On – PowerCLI

Once the new NSX-T Manager is deployed, the admin wants to adjust the memory reservation so that they can start the NSX-T Manager without running into memory constraints since the test environment is rather limited.  The deployed NSX-T Manager is in ‘small’ form factor, but still has a 16GB Memory reservation on it.  From the BACKUP-01a production server, the admin runs the 02_NSXT_RESERVATION_ADJUST.ps1 to adjust the memory reservation down to 8GB and then power on the appliance.

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Step 9 – Restore VMs to NSX-T Testing Segment – Veeam Restore Job

To get the virtual machines necessary to help in the NSX-T restore process and to prove that the admins can restore NSX-T and virtual machines from native and Veeam backups respectively, the admin runs a restore entire VM job of the three VMs previously backed up, and…

  • Points the Veeam restores to the Compute Cluster B host
  • Places them on the VM Network
  • Appends ‘_restored’ to each of their VM names
  • Leaves them powered Off. They’re left powered off so that once restored, the admin can adjust their network configurations to be attached to the ‘nsxt-restore-segment’.

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Step 10 – Change Restored VMs networking to NSX-T Testing Segment – vCenter Server network vMotion

The restored VMs can easily be moved in bulk to the ‘nsxt-restore-segment’ by using the Migrate VMs to Another Network option.

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Once the VMs are restored and moved to the ‘nsxt-restore-segment’, they can be powered on and the next step can proceed.

Step 11 – Add NSX-T Restore Config – NSX-T Policy API via PowerCLI

Now that the restored VMs are all added to the ‘nsxt-restore-segment’ and the new NSX-T Manager is online and attached as well, the admin can access these VMs by using the vSphere Client and using a direct console to the BACKUP-01a_restored VM.  It’s critical to run the remaining scripts from that machine, as there is no outside network access to the new NSX-T Manager appliance, as intended.

Consoling into the BACKUP-01a_restored server, the admin can make some checks to see if network connectivity is indeed limited to the ‘nsxt-restore-segment’.  Taking a quick look at the IPCONFIG of the BACKUP-01a_restored server, the admin can see that they cannot PING the default gateway of the network, however they are able to PING the other VMs and the NSX-T Manager (which has the same IP address as the Production NSX-T Manager).

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The admin can also log into the UI of the NSX-T Manager from the BACKUP-01_restored server as well and can see that this is a brand-new deployment with no configurations.

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The admin can also see that the Restore configuration is no longer configured as well.  The next step is to get the configuration for restoring the NSX-T Manager put back into the new NSX-T Manager.  This NSX-T Manager is already the same IP and Name as the production version, which is a requirement for restoration.

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With connectivity to the NSX-T Manager, and confirmation that there’s no configurations, the admin can proceed with running the PowerCLI script to add the Restore Configuration into the NSX-T Manager from script 03_NSXT_RESTORE_CONFIG.ps1.

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A quick run of the script and a refresh of the NSX-T Manager UI, and the admin can see that the SFTP server configuration is back and all of the backups that have been taken are showing up as well.

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After checking the backup files, the admin picks the first one in the list of Available Backups and clicks on the restore button to apply the configuration.  During the restore process, since this is not a full restore and components such as Edge Nodes and Transport Node hosts are not contactable, the admin may get a few error messages that they can skip through.  Once the restore is done, the admin can take a look at the restored configuration and see that the NSX-T Manager configuration matches the production instance and the restore was successfully finished and validated.

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With a successful test and the requirements accomplished, the admin can now perform the final steps running the last two scripts on the BACKUP-01a production server.  One of the scripts, 04_NSXT_RESTORE_CLEANUP.ps1 will shutdown and then forcibly delete all of the restored virtual machines and the NSX-T Manager.  The last script, 05_NSXT_DEPLOY_CLEANUP.ps1, runs a Policy API REST command to remove the Tier-1 Gateway and Segment to bring the entire deployment back to its original, clean state.

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The last 2 posts have shown the Healthcare organization the power of using NSX-T and how it can be used with even a small amount of automated techniques to accomplish several use case examples and provide a real value to the organization that requires them to test their backups.

Using NSX-T to Test NSX-T and Virtual Machine Recovery with Automation – Conceptual

The Healthcare organization, last post, configured their NSX-T Manager to send its backups to an SFTP backup server so they can perform restores if necessary.  The Healthcare organization also utilizes Veeam Backup and Recovery to provide virtual machine-based backups for their virtual infrastructure.  Unfortunately, the NSX-T Manager is not supported to be backed up using Veeam, and requires a new fresh NSX-T Manager installation deployed and a backup configuration restored to it and the Healthcare organization would like to test restores of the NSX-T Manager.

Configuring and actually backing up the NSX-T Manager configuration or a virtual machine is one thing, actually being able to test the backups is another.  A backup is no good if you can’t restore from it.  The organization has found a way to test both their NSX-T backups and their virtual machine backups at the same time to meet the requirements.  Taking some pointers from what they’ve learned previously around using automation tools, they plan to expand their automation learning with this same process.

NSX-T can provide exact copies of production environments running on top of the same underlying physical network with no changes to the physical network.  The Healthcare organization has placed a very large bet on NSX-T being their networking and security platform for their infrastructure, and looking to use this capability to provide an isolated backup environment to test restoring their backups.  Keeping an automation mindset in place, the Healthcare organization admins take a look at the requirements they’ll need to accomplish the tasks:

Requirements:

  1. Use NSX-T to build a production replica network to test restores of the NSX-T Manager and show virtual machines can also be restored and tested on the same network
  2. Use Veeam to restore the following virtual machines:
    1. Backup Server – Will be used to run automation scripts from
    2. Active Directory – Will be needed for DNS purposes
    3. SFTP Server – Hosts the NSX-T backups that restores will be tested from
  3. Deploy a new NSX-T Manager to test the restore process to it
  4. Use automation wherever possible to continue expanding automated techniques

The following topology is drawn out by the admin that will ensure that they can rebuild a production network replica while not overlapping with the actual production networking.  This topology consists of the following constructs to build out the production replica network:

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  • Standalone Tier-1 Gateway – not connected to any Tier-0 Gateway, preventing northbound communications that would conflict with the production networking
  • Restore Network Segment – Provides a logical network for the restored VMs to attach to
  • Restored Domain Controller – One of the organizations domain controllers that will provide DNS for the replica network and the VMs attached
  • Restored Backup Server – Hosts the PowerShell scripts that are necessary for scripting part of the deployment on the restored NSX-T Manager. Some of the scripts will need to be run from the Production Backup Server and some of them from the Restored Backup Server since there will be no outside communications to the Restore environment other than vCenter Server direct console access
  • Restored SFTP Server – Hosts the backups of the NSX-T Manager
  • Restored NSX-T Manager – Will be used to test its own restores
  • vCenter Server B – Manages the Compute Cluster B
  • Compute Cluster B – Provides a non-production host for the restored systems to be placed on that’s not managed by the production vCenter Server A.

Before any automation can begin, the admin needs to understand all of the workflow steps that will be necessary and how to perform them so they can put automation around each workflow process.

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NSX-T 2.4.x provides a hierarchical intent-based Policy API for customers to use for automation techniques.  The admin takes a look at the NSX-T API official documentation on the Policy API and finds a few REST API commands that could be useful for creating the necessary constructs.  From the configuration of the backup of the NSX-T Manager in the previous post, the admin can also use the information collected there and REST API commands to automate adding the restore configuration into the NSX-T Manager that will be deployed.

The NSX-T Manager comes from the VMware download site as an OVA type of download.  Using a tool such as the OVFTOOL, could be used to help automate the process of deploying the NSX-T Manager to the new network that will be created.

To wrap all of these different automation techniques into scripts that the admin can use, they’re planning to use PowerCLI and PowerShell Core 6 to build scripts that can be run to automate as much of this process as possible.

The admin performs the following actions to be able to use PowerShell Core 6 and VMware PowerCLI on the Backup Server.  The Backup Server will host the scripts and also be the server where the scripts are run from, both in production and in the restored segment.

Install Prerequisites:

The post isn’t going to go into how to install these items as they are fairly simple to install with mostly click, click, next.

Each of these processes will be necessary to meet all of the requirements.  There are specific portions of the workflow where processes can be joined together into singular scripts and the admin will attempt to do so within their experience.

The first and second workflow process in the table consists of building a Veeam Backup Job around all of the virtual machines needed, and ensuring that NSX-T is sending backups to the SFTP server.

Requirement 2 – Use Veeam to restore the following virtual machines

  • Backup Server – Will be used to run automation scripts from
  • Active Directory – Will be needed for DNS purposes
  • SFTP Server – Hosts the NSX-T backups that restores will be tested from

Regardless of the order of the requirements, first and foremost to test the restore process, the admin needs to ensure that they have backups of the systems that they’re planning to perform restore testing.  The admin also hops into the NSX-T Manager console and checks that the latest backup job has completed or can press the ‘BACKUP NOW’ button to start a latest backup to the SFTP server.

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For the process of testing backups in this use case, the admins have configured a separate backup job in Veeam that has the 3 virtual machines that will be used for this testing procedure.

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The admin waits to start the backup job in Veeam until the scripts are all built as they’ll be needed once the Backup Server is restored.  The admin can start to take a look at how to build an NSX-T isolated copy of the production network.

Requirement 1 – Use NSX-T to build a production IP-based isolated network to test restores to NSX-T and show virtual machines can also be restored and tested on the same network

Requirement 3 – Deploy a new NSX-T Manager to test the restore process to it

Requirement 4 – Use automation wherever possible to continue expanding automated techniques

The process of building the production replica network can be accomplished using the NSX-T REST API.  The admin has taken a look at the NSX-T REST API official documentation and found an example of using the hierarchical intent-based API to build the Tier-1 Gateway and the Segment that will be used.  The next process is around using the OVF Tool to deploy the NSX-T Manager to the same segment previously created.  Since these processes can be called from PowerCLI, the admin decides to combine these two workflows into one script.

The code that was built for this resembles the following:

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This script builds the Tier-1 Gateway and Segment using the NSX-T Policy API, then immediately jumps to using the OVF Tool to deploy the new NSX-T Manager to the previously created Segment.  You can find the actual script over here – github link.  For ease of reading, the OVF arguments were word wrapped.  Those need to be in one-line, normally.

The next process is around changing the Memory resources of the NSX-T Manager.  Typically, the NSX-T Manager has a memory reservation to ensure enough memory is available for it to run.  Given this is a testing environment restore, the admin wants to remove this reservation so they can start the NSX-T Manager without running into issues.  The admin builds another script to adjust this and start the VM.

The code that was built for this resembles the following:

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This script adjusts the memory reservation down to 8GB and then starts the NSX-T Manager VM.

The next piece of scripting that the admin chooses to do is around putting in the Restore Configuration for the NSX-T Manager into the new NSX-T Manager virtual machine using PowerCLI and the REST API.  The code that was built for this resembles the following:

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This script sends a REST API command to put in the Restore Server configuration into the NSX-T Manager so it can now see the NSX-T Backups on the restored SFTP-01a and can choose which one the admin wants to test the restore to.

The final script the admin decides to build is around clean up of all of the virtual machines and networking components created to test with.  The code built for this resembles the following:

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This script powers down and deletes all of the restored virtual machines and the NSX-T Manager, and then runs the NSX-T Policy API to remove the Tier-1 Gateway and testing Segment created resetting the infrastructure back to its original configuration.

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There are obviously several areas where the scripting can be improved and even further simplified.  This is a good first start for the admin to meet the requirements and grow their automation skills and further refine the scripting.  In the next post, the admin will put all of these scripts and processes to work and test the full process.  The screenshots of the script code may be tough to read, so the admin has uploaded all of the scripts to this location – https://github.com/vwilmo/NSXT_RESTORE_TESTING 🙂

 

NSX-T Backup and Restore Configuration and Automation | Part 1 – Windows SFTP Backup Targets

Now that the Healthcare organization has completed their journey of migrating from NSX Data Center for vSphere over to NSX-T Data Center, it’s time to do a bit of day 2 configuration, specifically configuring the backups of the NSX-T Manager.

The infrastructure admins that are currently in charge of running the NSX-T environment for the organization are expanding their scripting knowledge a bit and working on automating many of the configurations and operations that NSX-T Data Center requires.  The first area where some simple scripting can help is around configuration and management of NSX-T Backups.

Typically, the admin could go into the NSX-T Manager UI and perform these configurations via the UI.

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Since the admins are wanting to expand their knowledge in scripting and using REST APIs, and the plan is to bring this knowledge forward into performing and checking NSX-T restores later, they’ve opted to use a different approach.

Requirements:

  • Setup Backup configuration for the NSX-T Manager with an eye on automation
  • At least 3 backups per day and automatic backups after configuration changes
  • Maintaining at least 30 days of backups for the NSX-T Manager

Requirement 1 – Setup Backup configuration for the NSX-T Manager with an eye on automation

Requirement 2 – At least 3 backups per day and automatic backups after configuration changes

The first two requirements can be handled with one straightforward approach.  The organization currently has a Cerberus SFTP server that backs up configuration from other devices on their network.  It’s a FIPS 140-2 compliant software package that will work well with NSX-T.  This software package runs on a Windows Server 2016 machine for the organization to store the backups.  Consulting the official NSX-T documentation for Backup and Restore, the admin finds the required items to be able to perform the configuration.  The information is put into a chart for documentation purposes so that they can be tracked and the infrastructure and security team know the settings being used.  

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Now that the settings have been documented accordingly, the admin can take a further look at how to configure the settings in NSX-T.  The admin has decided that they will take the following approach around automating the installation of the configuration.  They will use the NSX-T REST API to perform the configuration using the documented settings.  To be able to do this a few things will need to happen.

  • Installation of a REST API client – Postman
  • Code example from the NSX-T Data Center API Guide for configuration and testing backups

This post will not go into the installation of Postman, it’s a simple installation.  The following configuration is however needed to properly ensure Postman will call the NSX-T Manager REST API.

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After consulting the NSX-T Data Center API Guide, the following code was pulled that should provide the necessary single API call to configure the NSX-T Manager backup schedule.

Example code for backup configuration:

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Taking the information collected during the documentation process, the admin can now substitute in the organization-specific configuration that will be used for the body of the REST API call.

Organization-specific code for backup configuration:

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When the admin pastes the above configuration into the body of the REST API PUT command and sends the command, they receive a Status 200 OK meaning the command was realized and accepted.

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There are several ways that the admin can check the work, but the Status 200 OK will display the result from the command in the Body section from the response.  It is also possible to change the same command from PUT to GET and resend it to get the same result.

With the configuration in place, the admin can issue another command via the REST API that will initiate a backup from the NSX-T Manager to the SFTP server.

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Running this command will take some time to send the request and get a response as the actual process of performing the backup needs to take place and send back a Status 200 OK which is only sent when the backup actually completes successfully.  As you can see from the Postman output below, the request took 1 minute and 1.08 seconds to actually perform the command.

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The admin can now go into the NSX-T Manager UI and check the configuration and backup status visually as well and it appears that all is configured properly and backing up to the SFTP server as they’d expect it to.

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The admin also takes a quick look at the SFTP server and the backup directory to check that files have been created.

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Requirement 3 – Maintaining at least 30 days of backups for the NSX-T Manager

To meet the last requirement, while still maintaining Requirement 1 around an eye for automation, the admin needs to find a way to only keep 30 days of backups for the NSX-T Manager.  The official NSX-T documentation has several scripts that can be run on Linux-based systems and coupled with a cron job, can be used to clean up the backup directory on an automatic and scheduled basis.  However, there are no scripts supplied for Windows-based SFTP systems and the Healthcare organization is using a Windows machine for their SFTP server.  The admin decides to create their own script using PowerShell and using a Windows Scheduled task to provide the same benefit.

Taking a look at the SFTP server, the admin can see that there are several folders created for the backup files.

  • ccp-backups – Contains .tar files of the Control Plane backup for NSX-T
  • cluster-node-backups – Contains .tar files in date specific folders for the NSX-T Manager/Policy/Controller Cluster and each individual NSX-T Manager backup
  • inventory-summary – Contains .json files for every inventory object in the NSX-T Manager backup

Each of these folders contains multiple files after a backup occurs for NSX-T.  Below is an example:

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The admin determines that the easiest way to handle this is to use PowerShell to create a script that will automatically look for files older than 30 days and remove the folders and files within the folders appropriately.  The code looks like this and can be found on GitHub as well.

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The admin tests this script by changing the $Daysback variable in the script to -0 as that will delete all of the backups that have been taken thus far.  Running the script, the admin can see that all of the backups have been removed and the folder structure for the backups is still intact.

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After running the backup again, the admin can see that the new backup files are present in the folder.

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With the script working as intended, the admin can now create a Windows scheduled task to call the PowerShell script on a nightly basis to clean up the SFTP backup directory

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With the task created, the admin runs the task manually and verifies that the current backup is removed as intended.  The admin can now run a current backup of the configuration and change the $Daysback variable to -30 again.

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The requirements have been fulfilled and the admin can now move onto the next task which is testing the backup and restore process in Part 2.

NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center Migration – Part 3

Planning and preparation are complete and the Healthcare organization is now ready to proceed with Part 3 of the NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center migration.

Researching the process for migration from NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center involves the following processes.  These efforts will be covered over a series of blog posts related to each step in the processes:

  • Understanding the NSX Data Center for vSphere Migration Process – Part 1
    • Checking Supported Features
    • Checking Supported Topologies
    • Checking Supported Limits
    • Reviewing the Migration Process and the prerequisites
  • Preparing to Migrate the NSX Data Center for vSphere Environment – Part 2
    • Prepare a new NSX-T Data Center Environment and necessary components
    • Prepare NSX Data Center for vSphere for Migration
  • Migration of NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center – Part 3

As they started the process in part 1, consulting the official documentation on the processes and what steps to perform are recommended.

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-T-Data-Center/2.4/migration/GUID-78947686-CC6C-460B-A185-7E2EE7D3BCED.html

MIGRATION OF NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE TO NSX-T DATA CENTER

The migration to NSX-T Data Center is a multi-step process.  The steps are outlined below:

  • Import the NSX Data Center for vSphere Configuration
  • Resolve Issues with the NSX Data Center for vSphere Configuration
  • Migrate the NSX Data Center for vSphere Configuration
  • Migrate NSX Data Center for vSphere Edges
  • Migrate NSX Data Center for vSphere Hosts
  • Finish the NSX Data Center for vSphere Migration

Upon further review of each step, the organization deployed two NSX-T Data Center Edge Nodes which will be used as replacements for the NSX Data Center for vSphere Edge Services Gateways.  These Edge Nodes were deployed using the official documentation and added to the NSX-T Manager.

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IMPORT THE NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE CONFIGURATION

To begin the process, the organization needs to enable the Migration Coordinator on the NSX-T Manager that they deployed.  A quick SSH session into the NSX-T Manager using the admin account, will provide the means to run the command necessary to start the Migration Coordinator service and enable the user interface that will be used for the migration in the NSX-T Manager:

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Now that the Migration Coordinator service is running, the user interface in the NSX-T Manager will be enabled.

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The next step in the process is to authenticate to the NSX Manager and the vCenter Server.

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With the NSX Data Center for vSphere Manager and vCenter Server added in, the organization can start the import configuration step.

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The organization sees ‘Successful’ on importing the existing configuration into NSX-T Data Center.  There is an option to ‘View Imported Topology’ which will give them a nice visual diagram of the configuration details that were imported.

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A successful import allows the organization to proceed with the next step in the migration process

RESOLVE ISSUES WITH THE NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE CONFIGURATION

Moving to the next step, the organization is presented with all of the ‘issues’ that need to be resolved to move forward with the migration process. The total number of inputs that need to be resolved are listed and once resolved, will also be listed.

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Several of the issues appear to be items that the organization does have already have configured.  Each issue has a recommendation by the Migration Coordinator for the organization to consider and move forward with the migration process.  The more important issues listed, are the ones that deal with the ‘EDGE’ as those issues will result in new NSX-T Data Center Edge Nodes being deployed to replace the existing Edge Services Gateways.

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After selecting the EDGE category of issues to resolve, the organization was met with the following items to remediate before it was able to proceed to the next step.

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  • IP addresses for TEPs on all Edge transport nodes will be allocated from the selected IP Pool. You must ensure connectivity between Edge TEPs and NSX for vSphere VTEPs.

This issue requires putting in the TEP_POOL that was created for the Edge Nodes already.

  • An NSX-T Edge node will provide the connectivity to replace NSX-v edge. Enter an IP address for the uplink.

This issue requires putting in a valid uplink IP address for the NSX-T Edge Node.  The organization will want to use the same IP address that the NSX Data Center for vSphere Edge Services Gateway is currently using since the TOR is statically routed to that IP address.

  • An NSX-T Edge node will provide HA redundancy for NSX-v edge. Enter an IP address for the uplink on this Edge node. This IP address must be in the same subnet as the uplink of the other NSX-T Edge used to replace this edge.

This issue requires putting in a valid IP address for the HA redundancy that the Edge Node will provide

  • An NSX-T Edge node will provide HA redundancy for edge replacing NSX-v edge. Enter an unused fabric ID for Edge node. See System > Fabric > Nodes > Edge Transport Nodes.

This issue requires selecting the UUID that was imported from the NSX-T Edge Nodes and selecting which one will be the replacing the NSX Data Center for vSphere Edge Services Gateway

  • An NSX-T Edge node will provide the connectivity to replace NSX-v edge. Enter an unused fabric ID for this Edge node. See System > Fabric > Nodes > Edge Transport Nodes.

This issue is similar to the one above but requires selecting the second NSX-T Edge Node UUID instead.

  • An NSX-T Edge node will provide the connectivity to replace NSX-v Edge. Enter a VLAN ID for the uplink on this Edge node.

This issue requires putting in the VLAN ID of the uplink adapter that will be used.

With all of the items resolved, the organization is ready to proceed with the actual migration process. Given that there will be some data plane outages that will need to occur during this process, the Edge Services Gateways will need to migrate to NSX-T Gateways, the organization has decided to perform the actual migration process during a scheduled maintenance window.

MIGRATE THE NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE CONFIGURATION

Pressing start, the Migration Coordinate begins migrating the configuration over to the NSX-T Data Center Manager.  This part of the process does not incur an outage as it’s a copy of the configuration.

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Once the configuration has been copied over, the organization can now see all of the components that have been created in NSX-T Data Center from the configuration imported.

NETWORKING

The organization can see that a new Tier-0 Gateway has been created and has the routing configuration that the Edge Services Gateways had.

networking

networking2networking3

GROUPS

The organization checks the new Group objects and can see that those new Inventory objects have been created

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SECURITY

Lastly, the organization checks the security objects, specifically that their Distributed Firewall and Service Composer rulesets are migrated over properly.

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MIGRATE NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE EDGES

The next part will incur an outage as this is the process of migrating the NSX Data Center for vSphere Edge Services Gateways over to the NSX-T Data Center Edge Nodes.  This will involve moving the IP addressing over.

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Once the Edges have been migrated over, the organization can see that a new Transport Zone is created, Edge Node Cluster created, and N-VDS switch is created.

MIGRATE NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE HOSTS

The next step involves swapping the ESXi host software components for NSX Data Center for vSphere out with NSX-T Data Center.

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With the ESXi hosts now migrated the organization has now been successfully migrated from NSX Data Center for vSphere over to NSX-T Data Center.

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Now that the Healthcare organization has migrated over to NSX-T Data Center, they can start the decommissioning of the NSX Data Center for vSphere components that are no longer needed.  The topology of their data center environment with NSX-T Data Center now looks like this.

finish_topology

NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center Migration – Part 2

Part 2 of the NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center migration for the Healthcare organization is around preparing the new NSX-T Data Center environment by deploying, installing, and configuring the necessary components.

Researching the process for migration from NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center involves the following processes.  These efforts will be covered over a series of blog posts related to each step in the processes:

  • Understanding the NSX Data Center for vSphere Migration Process – Part 1
    • Checking Supported Features
    • Checking Supported Topologies
    • Checking Supported Limits
    • Reviewing the Migration Process and the prerequisites
  • Preparing to Migrate the NSX Data Center for vSphere Environment – Part 2
    • Prepare a new NSX-T Data Center Environment and necessary components
    • Prepare NSX Data Center for vSphere for Migration
  • Migration of NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center – Part 3

As they started the process in part 1, consulting the official documentation on the processes and what steps to perform are recommended.

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-T-Data-Center/2.4/migration/GUID-78947686-CC6C-460B-A185-7E2EE7D3BCED.html

PREPARE A NEW NSX-T DATA CENTER ENVIRONMENT AND NECESSARY COMPONENTS

Preparing a new NSX-T Data Center environment involves deploying the NSX-T Manager.  Installation of the NSX-T Manager is beyond the scope of this blog post as the official documentation has the necessary steps involved.  The key piece of information for this part of the migration process is to deploy the NSX-T Manager appliance(s) on ESXi hosts that are NOT part of the NSX Data Center for vSphere environment that’s being migrated.  The Healthcare organization deployed the new NSX-T Manager on the same hosts that the NSX Data Center for vSphere Manager is currently deployed on.

before_topology.with.nsxt

The next step is to add the vCenter Server that is associated with the NSX Data Center for vSphere environment.  NSX-T Data Center has a completely separate user-interface to manage the NSX-T installation, that will not conflict with the NSX Data Center for vSphere user-interface that’s added as a plug-in to the vSphere Client.  The steps to add the vCenter Server, Compute Manager, into NSX-T are documented in the same official documentation as part 2 of the migration process.  Once added into NSX-T, this is what the organization sees:

nsxt_compute_manager_added

There is a recommendation to add more NSX-T Managers to form a cluster for a proper production deployment, but since the Migration Coordinator is only run on one of the NSX-T Manager appliances, they can be added later.

The last step to prepare the NSX-T side of the migration process for the organization is to create an IP Pool for the Edge Tunnel Endpoints (TEP).  The organization already has a VLAN network for the VXLAN Tunnel Endpoints on the ESXi hosts for NSX Data Center for vSphere.  The VLAN is constrained using an IP range and part of the VLAN network will be assigned for the Edge TEPs as well as the host TEPs that will need to be created as well.

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A TEP pool is created that the organization will reference during the migration

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An IP range of addresses in the VLAN network is allocated and ensured not stepped on by any other devices in the range.

PREPARE NSX DATA CENTER FOR VSPHERE FOR MIGRATION

With the NSX-T Data Center environment setup and the steps followed, the next part of the migration process involves preparing the NSX Data Center for vSphere environment.

The first step involves configuring any hosts that might not already be added to a vSphere Distributed Switch.  The Healthcare organization has moved all of the data center hosts over to a vSphere Distributed Switch so this part of the process is not applicable to them.

The second step of this part of the migration process involves checking the Distributed Firewall Filter Export Version of the virtual machines.  This involves checking the ESXi hosts where these workloads reside and running a few simple commands.  Checking the vSphere Client, the workloads and the hosts they reside on can be seen so the organization knows which hosts to check filter export versions.

vcenter_vm_inventory

Now that the information on the virtual workload is confirmed, a simple SSH session into the ESXi host will determine if the export version is correct or needs to be modified to support the migration process.

export_filter_check

The check of the workload shows that the Distributed Firewall Filter Export Version is the correct version for this workload.  The organization can now check all of the other workloads to ensure this is the case with those as well.  This is the last step in part 2 of the process and once fully completed the Healthcare organization can moved to Part 3 and begin the actual migration process.

 

 

NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center Migration – Part 1

It’s been well over a year since the last post discussing the usage of VMware NSX with the Healthcare organization.  In that time, they’ve deployed NSX controllers, and a small amount of VXLAN networks with a few workloads attached as well as continued their micro-segmentation journey, building security around their important workloads.  The release of NSX-T Data Center and the added benefits and support, have led the organization to look into migrating from NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center.  NSX-T Data Center 2.4 now includes an NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center Migration Coordinator that can help transition NSX Data Center for vSphere deployments over to new or existing NSX-T Data Center deployments.  The Healthcare organization has decided to pursue making use of the tool and moving their organization from NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center.

Researching the process for migration from NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center involves the following processes.  These efforts will be covered over a series of blog posts related to each step in the processes:

  • Understanding the NSX Data Center for vSphere Migration Process – Part 1
    • Checking Supported Features
    • Checking Supported Topologies
    • Checking Supported Limits
    • Reviewing the Migration Process and the prerequisites
  • Preparing to Migrate the NSX Data Center for vSphere Environment – Part 2
    • Prepare a new NSX-T Data Center Environment and necessary components
    • Prepare NSX Data Center for vSphere for Migration
  • Migration of NSX Data Center for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center – Part 3

With these processes in mind, it makes sense to start with by first taking a look at the official documentation on how to migrate from NSX for vSphere to NSX-T Data Center, the organization begins to document the functionality it’s currently using to compare it to the list of supported functions that the migration tool supports.

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-T-Data-Center/2.4/migration/GUID-78947686-CC6C-460B-A185-7E2EE7D3BCED.html

CHECKING SUPPORTED FEATURES BY THE MIGRATION COORDINATOR

The organization has reviewed the supported features and listed them in a chart as they reviewed them to document the items, they will need to pay attention to and are relevant to their NSX Data Center for vSphere deployment:

table1

Going through the supported features, a few things were found that the organization was using that it had to make slight changes to facilitate the migration.

table2

CHECKING SUPPORTED TOPOLOGIES BY THE MIGRATION COORDINATOR

The Healthcare organization built out the following diagram to show and document the infrastructure they had built as they continued to add new features of NSX Data Center for vSphere in their environment.  This diagram is very beneficial for checking against the supported topology that the Migration Coordinator supports.

before_topology

The Healthcare organization’s network topology contains the following configurations which we can use to compare against the supported topology for the Migration Coordinator to find one that matches.

table3

The network topology leans toward following the Migration Coordinator supported topology that’s represented in this diagram from the official documentation. 

before_topology_supported

The supported topology from the official documentation supports the configurations that match the organizations current NSX Data Center for vSphere topology.

CHECKING SUPPORTED LIMITS BY THE MIGRATION COORDINATOR

The next step in the process is to review the supported limits of the Migration Coordinator against the currently configurations in the existing NSX Data Center for vSphere environment.  The Healthcare organization is a rather small deployment so their current configurations should fall into the supported limits of the Migration Coordinator.  The organization documented the following configuration information for the migration process to ensure they were within the limits:

table4

REVIEWING THE MIGRATION PROCESS AND THE PREREQUISITES

The last step in part 1 of the Migration process is to review the prerequisites that are necessary to facilitate the migration to NSX-T Data Center.  Reviewing the official documentation, the following items are required to migrate properly:

  • Deploy a new NSX-T Data Center environment
  • Import the configuration from the NSX Data Center for vSphere environment
  • Resolve issues with the configuration and deploy NSX-T Edge Nodes
  • Migrate Configuration
  • Migrate Edges
  • Migrate Hosts

After taking a look at the first part of the process, the Healthcare organization is ready to proceed to step 2 which will involve modifying their infrastructure to support the NSX-T Data Center environment they will be migrating to.

The VMware NSX Platform – Healthcare Series – Part 7.1: Secure End-User VDI Practical

In the last post we broke down each of the six use cases that the VMware NSX platform can provide for Secure End-User computing environments.  Each of these use cases providing a Healthcare organization a different business value depending on their needs.

As we start to break each use case down, the first one we’ll be looking at is around Micro-segmentation of a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment that a Healthcare organization may run.

practical_pic1

Speaking with my Healthcare customers running VDI systems, there wasn’t many security-based controls to protect traffic between each desktop.  These systems were fully allowed to communicate with each other regardless of an actual need to.  Not only that, but those VDI systems could scale up or down as demanded.  The security posture must be able to scale up and down in a similar fashion.  These use cases for NSX are quite simple and easy to implement.  By blocking unnecessary communications between these systems, we can ensure that if one desktop is compromised, could transition and compromise other desktops.  Several times in discussions, my Healthcare customers were using one or more technologies as they transitioned from one to the other or as part of a legacy acquisition.  We’ll take the top two VDI software providers, Citrix and Horizon and show that it doesn’t matter which one a customer is using, both can be secured in an identical fashion.

Healthcare organizations also had different types of uses for example, clinicians and HR users.  There could be a need to create separate pools for each of these different types of users.  There are other ways to address this problem with other products and utilizing a single pool but in this case, we’re focusing on customers with this model.  In a later blog we’ll also explore how Identity-based Firewall in NSX can help as well.

Let’s look at our use case.

Use case – Augment an existing VDI deployment using VMware Horizon with NSX and secure traffic between each system and providing isolation for desktop pools

  • Block all VDI to VDI
  • Isolate HR and Clinician Desktop pool from each other
  • Maintain the existing infrastructure as much as possible and without major changes 

Technology used –

Windows systems:

  • External Client-01a – Windows 10 – HR User
  • External Client-02a – Windows 10 – Clinician User
  • EMR-VDI-01a > EMR-VDI-02a (HZN)
  • HR-VDI-01a > HR-VDI-02a (CTX)
  • Allow EMR-VDI pool to expand and contract based on Clinician need

VMware Products

  • vSphere
  • vCenter
  • NSX
  • Horizon View

Citrix Products

  • XenDesktop 

Applications in question –

Open Source Healthcare Application:

  • OpenMRS – Open Source EMR system
    • Apache/PHP Web Server
    • MySQL Database Server

Open Source HR Application:

  • IceHRM – Open Source HR system
    • Apache/PHP Web Server
    • MySQL Database Server

Environment –

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In this environment, the customer has a Citrix VDI environment and a Horizon VDI environment.  They are in the middle of a transition from one platform to another, however security needs to remain consistent.  The HR VDI systems need to be able to access the HR application, and the Clinicians need to be able to access the EMR application.  Neither should be able to talk to the other application and neither pool of desktops should be able to talk to each other.

practical_pic3

We also need to provide a security posture for when the EMR Desktop pool needs to expand due to Clinician need.

We’ll start by building out our NSX grouping constructs and putting in each of the different objects into their respective containers.  We’ll also mock up our firewall rule sets

NSX Groupings:

practical_pic4

The groupings are shown here for use in our rule sets.  Each of these NSX Security Groups will enable the DFW rule sets to scale as the environment scales without the need to make modifications to the DFW rules.  If more VDI systems are created, they will simply land in their appropriate Security Group, and the DFW policy will be applied.  We’ll be exploring the concept of automation for VDI in another post.

HR Application Communications:

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EMR Application Communications:

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VDI Communications:

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The rule sets are simple to segment out each of the different VDI systems from their appropriate application servers.  Also, by nesting all VDI VMs into one Security Group, we can keep the block communications between the systems to one rule.  With all the necessary components to create our security policy, we can start putting it into the NSX DFW.

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All the rules are in place; we can now perform verification to see that our rules are working and the requirements have been achieved.

HR users can get to their HR application and EMR users cannot get to the HR application

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EMR users can get to their EMR application and HR users cannot get to the EMR application

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VDI desktops are not allowed to talk to each other

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Now that we’ve verified that the HR user and the Clinician can access their VDI desktops and the relevant applications they need, we’ll scale up the EMR VDI systems by adding one more desktop and attempt to connect to the newest desktop the same as we did in the previous verification.

practical_pic12

Currently, there are only two VDI desktop machines in our pool.  We’ll increase that to 3 as a customer may need a new desktop should more clinicians need to login during rush periods, where not enough desktops are online already.  The main consideration here, is that we want to keep the same security posture as above, regardless of how many desktops we have in the pool.

practical_pic13

With the pool increased, our dynamic criteria has added the newly built machine into the Security Group as it should.  All the rules associated with this Security Group will now apply to this newly built VDI desktop as well.  Let’s verify.

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Our pings to the other VDI systems, including the new one we just built drop as we’d expect them to drop.  This fulfills the requirements of the customer.

Micro-segmentation for Secure End-User starts with securing VDI desktops.  Regardless of the implementation technologies, Horizon or Citrix, NSX can provide a security posture surrounding the VDI desktops and the application systems they require access to.  In future posts I’ll be showing how NSX can provide ever further value for the other Secure End-User use cases.