Deploying NSX 6.3 in a vSphere 6.5 Environment (Part 1)

Deploying NSX 6.3 in a vSphere 6.5 Environment (Part 1):

Today, I’m going to go through the steps for deploying NSX 6.3 in my homelab.  My homelab consists of 4 Intel NUCs, with one of those running in a management cluster.  I only have 1 NIC per host at this point, but I’m thinking of adding a USB NIC to each of the systems in the VM cluster, to give me some more flexibility around networking.  Specifically, I’d like to have a standard switch that has the host management vmkernel address, so I can muck with the networking without taking my hosts offline.

I’m running a mixed environment of vCenter 6.5 and ESXi 6.0 at home and had previously deployed NSX but had to rip it out to upgrade to 6.5.  It was an interesting experience removing NSX and one that you’d probably never do in a production environment.  However, it did demonstrate for me how deeply integrated this is once installed.

Here are the initial steps:

Download the OVA from vmware.com.

Deploy the OVA and give your NSX Manager a name:

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Pick a place to put it. I’m putting the VM on my VSAN datastore:

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Pick a network for the management interface. This isn’t the NSX networks that will be defined later.  It should be a network that can communicate with the vCenter server.  You’ll set an IP address in the next step:

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Set the parameters for the NSX manager. You’ll set IP address, hostname and DNS server here.  Also, set the passwords for both the “admin” user and the “privilege” mode of the CLI.  This is much like the enable mode on a Cisco network device.

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Once you’ve set these, click next a couple times and then Finish to start the deployment. It will take few minutes.  When the deployment is finished, power on the VM to complete the initial setup.  If you want, you can watch the boot process with the VM Console and when it’s finished you’ll be ready for the next configuration steps.  When the deployment is finished, the NSX Manager VM should show the login prompt:

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Next, login to the web interface of the NSX Manager using the “admin” username and the password you setup in the initial OVA screens. Once you’ve logged in you’ll see the NSX Appliance Management page:

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From here, click on “Manage vCenter Registration” and input both the Lookup Service URL and vCenter Server addresses. You’ll be asked to accept certificates in both cases. Accept those and this will register the NSX environment with your vCenter installation.

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Also, make sure your NTP settings are correct, by clicking the Manage Appliance Settings button on the home page.  NTP and time in general is VERY important for things like SSO and SSL to work correctly.  One piece of advice I have is that if you’re ever having issues with services not working correctly, or login issues, check the time first.

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If all went well, you should see Connected and nice, green circles (and all sysadmins have a Pavlovian desire to see green circles, don’t we!).

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Now, you should be able to login to your vSphere Web Client and see the NSX icon showing up as Network and Security on the Home Page. If you don’t see it, logout and log back in.  We all know how much the Web Client likes a Refresh!  Unfortunately, this is one of those areas that isn’t supported in the new HTML5 client, but hopefully that will change in the future as VMware rolls more functionality into that client and eventually (one can hope!) moves us into a Flash-free future.

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That completes the initial deployment of the NSX manager.  Your NSX Manager is deployed and registered, but there are a few more steps we need to complete in order to have a fully functional SDN solution.  Next time, we’ll go through the initial configuration of the application, including host preparation and creating the networking requirements.  Also, we’ll need to apply licensing at some point to the installation.