Welcome to the Edge, I’m at Your Service

I’ve mentioned, more than once by now, that the Edge is where the services routers exist. They do their thing, whether tied into a Tier-0 or Tier-1 router.

So what services do we have? I’ mentioned them in the last post, so let’s run through them again pretty quickly:

How much can we actually do with NAT? I mean, Source NAT and Destination NAT are pretty straightfoward functions, I think. Both have been supported in NSX for, well, quite a while now.
In NSX-T, stateful NAT is supported if the Edge is configured for Active-Standby HA.

We also support reflexive, or stateless NAT. This is useful when I’m running the Edge in Active-Active HA.

The Edge also has a firewall, much like we’re used to in NSX-V. This is a pretty straightfoward L3 firewall, and is used for the same things we use the ESG firewall for in NSX-V – controlling north/south traffic at the software-defined network perimeter.
But we get to add a new twist – the Edge firewall is available on both Tier 0 and Tier 1 routers, so tenants can have a little more control over what they allow into the tenant perimeter.

VPN Services
We also have L2 and L3 VPNs avaialble in the Edge, but they’re completely built and managed through the APIs at the moment. Sorry folks, no real VPN love in this series, just an honorable mention. No API-fu with this software-defined joker yet.

Load Balancer
Just remember, if you’re using a VM form factor Edge, it has to be Medium or Large to configure Load Balancing. Learn from my fail, where I deployed a Small Edge, and wondered for an hour or so why I couldn’t attach the LB to the Edge.

Ultimately, we recommend Large if you’re going to use Load Blaancing. Medium supports the LB function, but really only for proof of concept use cases.

The Load Balancer in NSX-T is still ultimately a function of the Edge. No real news here. The configuration is pretty straightforward, where a Load Balancer instance is created, at least one Virtual Server is attached to the Load Balancer, and the LB is attached to a Tier 1 Logical Router.
Server Pools need to be created – the Load Balancing Algorithm is defined here, with Round Robin and Least Connections settings (along with weighted versions for those), as well as a simple IP Hash algorithm. You decide whether you’re going to do TCP multiplexing.

Then you decide whether you’re doing a Transparent load balancer, or statically or dynamically mapping the NAT. Transparent load balancing is only supported if the LB is inline with the servers in the pool.
Then you statically or dynamically choose pool members. Dynamic pools use NSGroups, where static is just that – predefined and static.

Finally, you decide what health monitors you want for pool members – these can be active or passive (or both, if you really want). NSX-T ships with default Active Health Monitors for HTTP, HTTPS, ICMP, and TCP. You can create more if you want, and decide how you want them to check for health.

When you create Virtual Servers, you get to decide whether you’re load balancing L4 or L7, TCP or UDP, and what Application Profile you’re going to use, it’s IP address, associated Server Pools, and what kind of persistence you want.

Then you just toss all that together with the LB itself, and off you go! The biggest differences here (that I see) are the things we need to create to make a load balancer are somewhat consolidated, and we need to make sure we have large enough Edges to support the Load Balancer. And Application Rules are gone, but replaced with other rewrite and redirection policies called LB Rules, managed in the Virtual Server.

L2 Bridging
We can’t forget the venerable bridging capabilities. They haven’t been mentioned anywhere else yet. In NSX-T 2.1, we had to define a Bridge Cluster and populate it with ESXi Transport Nodes to get L2 bridging. That’s still around, but in NSX-T 2.2, a far better option is available (relatively speaking, of course – it’s 2018, bridging should be a niche use case these days, but it’s here if you need it).

Today, we can create Bridge Profiles and attach them to the Edge, which does a number of things for us:
* we can use Edges rather than ESXi hosts for bridging – that sounds less expensive already!
* Edges use DPDK for forwarding – so now bridging is (potentially) faster
* Edges have a firewall, which means we can limit traffic going to or from the bridged network

I think we have a winner here, for those rare occasions that L2 adjacency is necessary, especially for things like migrations from physical networks to logical.

So, there we have it, a quick rundown of things that need Services Routers on the Edge.


~$ history
Introduction: From NSX-V to NSX-T. An Adventure
NSX-T: The Manager of All Things NSX
The Hall of the Mountain King. or “What Loot do We Find in nsxcli?”
Three Controllers to Rule Them All (that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?)
Beyond Centralization: The Local Control Plane
Transport Zones, Logical Switchies, and Overlays! Oh, My!
Which Way Do We Go? Let’s ask the Logical Router!
If You’re Not Living on the Edge, You’re Taking Up Too Much Room

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