vSAN Deployment without existing vCenter Server

VMware vSAN is Software-Defined Storage(SDS) solution from VMware that is fully integrated into vSphere. To enable vSAN, we need to have a minimum of three ESXi hosts, and each host needs at least one cache disk and one capacity disk. The local disks of ESXi hosts should be formatted by VMFS. Since vSAN is a vSphere clustering feature, we should also have Center Server in place before start implementing it.

If you are a System Administrator or even a Solutions Architect, you might a face a challenge to build a vSAN Cluster with minimum ESXi servers without having a vCenter in place. In many green field environments, vCenter has not been installed and you want to keep ESXi’s disks intact and unformatted. In addition, there are some customers that want to build and manage vSAN Cluster in a separate vCenter and they do not have any additional ESXi host for vCenter deployment.

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NSX-T Distributed Firewall – Part 2

In the first part of NSX-T Distributed Firewall, I explained the importance of embracing NSX-T DFW. In this post, I review how you can create and apply firewall rules to implement Micro-segmentation. To create firewall rules, first you need to define a Policy section which basically contains one or more firewall rules. A policy in NSX-T DFW can be defined as stateful or stateless. In the case of being stateless, you need to define the rules in both directions. Otherwise, the reverse traffic is not allowed to pass. On the other hand, in the default stateful mode, when you define a rule it will apply bidirectionally.

Then you need to define the rules under the policy section which evaluates the criteria of a traffic flow. DFW rules determine whether the traffic should pass or get dropped based on the protocol and ports.

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NSX-T FQDN/URL Filtering

NSX-T Distributed Firewall (DFW) is one of the most comprehensive solutions to provide micro-segmentation from layer 4 to layer 7. It can monitor all the East-West traffic on your virtual machines and build a Zero-trust model. To leverage the DFW, vNIC of virtual machines need to connect to NSX-overlay segment, NSX VLAN backed segments or vDS port group supported from vSphere 7.0. The benefit of using DFW is that firewall rules apply at the vNIC level of virtual machines. In this way, traffic does not need to traverse to a physical firewall to get identified if the traffic can pass or drop, which is more efficient. This article will focus on using DFW to enforce L7 (FQDN/URLs) filtering.

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You can give internet access to a VM or a user who login to a VM by Identity Based Firewall or even take one step further and control which specific URL/URLs are allowed to get accessed.

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Critical vCenter Server Vulnerability – Patch Immediately!

On May 25, a critical vulnerability reported which affects vCenter Server 6.5, 6.7 and 7.0 and VMware Cloud Foundation 3.x and 4.x. With access to port 443 of vCenter Server, an attacker may exploit this issue to execute commands with unrestricted privileges on the operating system that hosts vCenter Server.  This issue arise because of lack of input validation in vSAN Health Check plug-in.

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NSX-T Distributed Firewall – Part 1

Before jumping to NSX-T Distributed Firewall (DFW) concept and rule creation, I want to point out why this solution is important and what security issues can be addressed by using this powerful solution. Building a zero trust model security has been the biggest concern of network and security teams. In traditional data centers, high-level segmentation is built, which could help to prevent various types of the workload from communicating. But the main challenge of the legacy security model is data centers facing a lack of lateral prevention communication system between workloads within a tier. In other words, traffic can traverse freely inside a network segment and access the crucial information until it reaches the physical firewall to get dropped. In addition, implementing different layers of security and firewalls would cause complexity and cost.

NSX-T Distributed Firewall (DFW) is a hypervisor kernel-based firewall that monitors all the East-West traffic and could be applied to individual workloads like VM and enforce zero-Trust security model. Micro-segmentation logically divides department or set of applications into security segments and distribute firewalls to each VM.

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vCenter Server 7.0 HTML5 UI error “no healthy upstream”

After upgrading to vCenter 7 Update 1 , when I tried to browse vCenter HTML5 UI, I faced “no healthy upstream” error. I could access to vCenter Management Interface (VAMI) https://vCenter-IPaddress:5480 without any issues. I could also connect to vCenter Server through  SSH but I realized couple of vCenter Server services could not start.

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VxRail 2-Node Implementation Considerations (VxRail 7.0.100)

Starting with version 4.7.100, VxRail supports vSAN 2-Node for small and Remote-Office Branch-Office (ROBO) deployments. This solution works best for environments that needs hyperconverged compute and storage with a minimal configuration. VxRail 2-Node consists of two VxRail E560 nodes and a vSAN Witness Appliance. It is recommended to deploy the Witness appliance in another site but in case of lacking another site it can be deployed in the same site as vSAN 2-Node.

There are some considerations and requirements that you need to have it in place before starting the VxRAIL 2-Node implementation.

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vSphere 7.0 Update 1 is now Globally Available!

vSphere 7.0 introduced by VMware in March 2020 and went to GA in April 2020. Many new features like DRS & vMotion improvement and also Lifecycle Manager has been released. After half a year VMware introduced first major update on vSphere 7 and today this release went into GA. It is now publicly available, you can download it from VMware and take advantage of this latest and greatest release! Here in this blog post I will go through the new features and capabilities

3 Pillars of vSphere 7 Update 1
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NSX-T 3.0 SSL Certificate Replacement – Part 2

In Part 1 of NSX-T SSL Certificate Replacement, the process of certificate template preparation and request has been explained. This blog post will teach you how to import and replace the generated certificate into NSX-T Manager. It is really important to verify the imported certificate before replacing it. I want to point out that if you are using a Virtual IP for you NSX-T management cluster, you should have generated the SSL certificate for management cluster’s Virtual IP address.

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Configure NSX-T 3.0 RBAC with Native Active Directory Integration

One of the new features which has been added to NSX-T 3.0 is supporting RBAC with Native Active Directory. In previous version of NSX-T we had to use VMware Identity Manager (vIDM) to be able to add users and groups from Active Directory for RBAC purposes. In set posts I have already described how to install and configure vIDM with NSX-T. I still believe configuring RBAC through vIDM has some added value like Multi-Factor Authentication(MFA).

To setup NSX-T Role-based Access Control(RBAC) it’s better to create groups in Active Directory and add users into the group for two reasons. First it’s easier to add a group with couple of users as members rather than assign role to many users in NSX-T. Second, with help of Group Policy you can define a “Restricted Group” and it locks down membership to that group. As a result it provides a layer of security.

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