NSX Advanced Load Balancer configuration for vSphere with Tanzu

One of the pre-requisites for vSphere with Tanzu is the ability to provide a Load Balancer to the environment. THe options as of vSphere 7.0 U1 included NSX or HAProxy appliance. In vSphere 7.0 Update 2, a new option for load balancer is available for the deployment of Workload Management. The NSX Advanced Load Balancer (ALB) also known as AVI, is available for download in OVA format from my.vmware.com. Deploying ALB will allow for communication between users, service engines, load balancer type services with supervisor and TKG clusters.

Let’s jump into it. First download the OVA for NSX Advanced Load Balancer from my.vmware site.

Once the OVA has been downloaded, proceed to your vCenter and deploy the OVA by supplying a management IP address.

Supplying a sysadmin login authentication key is not required.

Once the appliance has been deployed and powered on, login to the UI using the supplied management IP/FQDN.

Create username and password. Email is optional.

Add DNS , NTP, and backup passphrase information.

If you provided email address, you would also need to provide email settings.

You will also need to identify which Orchestrator Integration will be used. Select VMware vCenter/vSphere.

The appliance needs to know how to connect to your vCenter. Supply the username, password and vCenter information so that ALB can connect to vCenter. For permissions, you can leave “Write” selected, as this will allow for easier deployment and automation between ALB and vCenter. Leave SDN Integration set to “None”.

Select the Management PortGroup, IP subnet, gateway, and IP address pool to be utilized. This IP Pool is a range of IP to be used to connect the Service Engine (SE) VMs.

After the initial configuration, we will need to either import a certificate or create a self-signed certificate to be used in Supervisor cluster communication. For PoCs, creating a self-signed certificate is perfectly fine.

Log in to the appliance using the user/password combination specified during initial deployment.

Navigate to Administration by selecting this option from the drop-down menu on the upper left corner.

In the administration pane, select Settings.

Click on the caret under SSL/TLS Certificate to expand the options. Click on “Create Certificate” green box.

Create a self-signed certificate by providing the required information. Make sure to add Subject Alternate Name(s).

The next step is to configure the data network. Change from the administration tab to Infrastructure by selecting the option from the drop-down menu on the upper left corner.

From the Infrastructure pane, click on Networks. ALB will talk to vCenter and retrieve available networks.

Ideally, you’ll want to create a separate PortGroup for your data network. In this example, this is the Frontend network. The Load Balancer VIPs will be assigned to Service Engines from this network. These VIPs are the interfaces that connect users to clusters and Kubernetes services.

Select the Port Group for the data network, specify an IP address, and add a static IP address pool to be used.

Because service engines (SE) don’t have interfaces on the workload network that Kubernetes cluster nodes are connected to, we need to specify a route. Note: VIPs are on a network accessible to the client, but the workload network may not be, so these routes enable traffic to get to the clusters.

To add a route, Navigate to Infrastructure > Routing > Create

In this example, the is the Workload Network, and the next hop is the gateway for the VIP network.

Next, we need to create an IPAM Profile. This is needed to tell the controller to use the Frontend network to allocate VIPs via IPAM.

Navigate to Templates > Profiles > IPAM/DNS Profiles > create

Via IPAM profile, change the cloud for usable network to Default-Cloud, and set the usable network to the VIP network, in this case vDS-WCP-Frontend.

At this point your NSX Advanced Load Balancer Appliance is ready to be used during the configuration of Workload Management.

Dave Morera

VCF Lab Tips: NSX Cluster size

VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) is quickly becoming the go-to for many companies. The operations efficiency it brings, along with its best practices driven architecture is a no-brainer when it comes to value. As with any purchases, many people like to kick the tires on a new product, or just want to get familiar with it via Proof of Concepts, virtual labs, home labs, etc. Testing VCF is a great way to learn it, but because it uses best practices (VMware Validated Designs), some decisions are made for you, one of them is the NSX Cluster.

To make matters simple, I will refer to VCF 4.0+, where NSX-T is used for Management and VI Workload Domains… no more NSX-V. To deploy VCF we use a worksheet we can download from my.vmware.com 

This worksheet will deploy 3 NSX-T Managers and create a cluster under a Virtual IP (VIP). The NSX-T Managers are “t-shirt” sizes, by default deploying Medium NSX-T Appliances, but they can be changed to either Large or Small on the worksheet.


As you can see from the worksheet, it requires 3 NSX-T Managers to be deployed. So here is where we can use other avenues to reduce that resource consumption.

TIP 1:

If you wish to deploy all 3 NSX-T Managers, you can change the size to small on the worksheet in order to reduce the resource footprint, prior to VCF bring-up.


TIP 2:

This second option allows for setting the size to small and at the same time allows to also create a single node cluster. This can be done by using a json file during VCF bring-up rather than using the worksheet. Within the json file, remove any additional entries of NSX-T Managers and leave only one node.

For additional information on how to obtain the json file, you can find the procedure here.


TIP 3:

Another option relates to a post bring-up procedure. In the case that VCF has already been stood up, and resources want to be minimized within the lab, the option to remove nodes from the NSX Cluster would be a viable solution. Removing nodes from the NSX cluster can be done from CLI within the NSX cluster.

It is necessary to SSH into one of the cluster nodes in order to remove nodes from the NSX cluster. If unable to SSH, verify that the AllowRootAccess is enabled and StrictMode is set to no. Then restart the ssh service with the following command:

/etc/init.d/ssh restart

Then ssh into that node using the admin account. Once logged in, there are a list of command available, including get and detach.


Use the GET command to get the ID of the cluster nodes.

get cluster status


Use the ID along with the detach cmd to remove a specific node. Repeat the process to remove the the second node until there is only one left.

detach node <node-id>


I want to reiterate that this is a good resource saving workaround on a LAB environment. For production environments, please follow the already applied recommendations/best practices for deploying VCF.