Working With NSX – Deploying NSX Manager

I’ve recently embarked on a learning journey with VMware’s NSX network virtualization product as part of a group of individuals focused on running through the hands-on, expert level certification for NSX. Early on, I decided to document my experience on the blog. More often than not, Wahl Network ends up being my second brain and I refer to it often. This series, entitled Working With NSX, will focus on the administrative side of NSX in various lab environments.

To kick things off, I’m going to walk through the initial setup and configuration of the NSX Manager, which is a required first step.

Deploying the NSX Manager OVA

The NSX Manager OVA deploys without much fuss. I have a Staging folder used for any new workloads; let’s select that folder from within the vSphere Web Client and deploy a new OVF/OVA template as shown below.

Deploying the OVA into my Staging area
Deploying the OVA into my Staging area

Next, navigate to the location of the NSX Manager OVA file, which I have located on an SMB share that sits on my Synology array.

Browsing to the NSX Manager OVA file
Browsing to the NSX Manager OVA file

Now that the wizard has access to my OVA file, it’s time to begin walking through the long list of placement questions. I would advise checking the box next to “accept extra configuration options” so that you can provide the custom fields for passwords, IPs, and the like towards th e end.

Make sure to accept the extra configuration options
Make sure to accept the extra configuration options

I’ll skip past the mundane questions that request a name, folder, cluster, datastore, and network – these will vary depending on your environment and are nothing special. Section 2E of the wizard, called Customize Template, includes the special fields that must be completed. Make sure to pick a snazzy password that you will also remember (or stick inside of a password vault).

Fill in all of the configuration items
Fill in all of the configuration items

Once done with item 2E, advance to the ready to complete screen and click finish. That’s it. NSX Manager should now be deployed into your environment. If you haven’t already, power it on.

NSX Manager uses 4 vCPUs and 12 GB of RAM out of the box. I’ve lowered that to 8 GB of RAM in my environment without any noticeable detriment.

Configuring NSX Manager

Navigate to the HTTPS address of the IP address assigned during the OVA deployment phase and log in as the admin user. The password was also decided during the OVA deployment wizard – I hope you haven’t forgotten it already. 🙂

From the main menu, select Manage vCenter Registration.

I really dig how simple this menu is
I really dig how simple this menu is

There are two entries that should be filled out, although only one is mandatory.

  • Lookup Service – “For vCenter versions 5.1 and above, you may configure Lookup Service and provide the SSO administrator credentials to register NSX Management Service as a solution user. It is also recommended to set the NTP server for SSO configuration to work correctly.
  • vCenter Server – “Connecting to a vCenter server enables NSX Management Service to display the VMware Infrastructure inventory. HTTPS port (443) needs to be opened for communication between NSX Management Service, ESX and VC.

Below is a completed configuration using the Wahl Network lab:

Providing the Lookup Service and vCenter Server credentials
Providing the Lookup Service and vCenter Server credentials

You’re done. Feel free to wander around the NSX Manager GUI for a while, but there’s nothing else to do here.

The vCenter Server will light up for a few minutes as the NSX bits are loaded. My little HP Microserver G7 took about 10 minutes to completely finish the process. Just be aware that it happens.

The Networking & Security Plug-in

I logged out of the vSphere Web Client and then back in; once completed, this little Networking & Security gem was waiting for me. There’s also an icon in the Home Inventory section.

The Networking & Security menu item appears
The Networking & Security menu item appears

From within the Networking & Security section, click on the Installation menu item and then select the Management tab (the default one). Make sure you see the new NSX Manager added to your inventory. Mine took about 15 minutes total to show up, but my management ESXi host is rather slow.

Verify the NSX Manager is present
Verify the NSX Manager is present

NSX Manager is now up and running and ready to do your bidding. The next section focuses on Assigning User Permissions.