GRUB Root Password – NSX-T 3.2 Installation

As you know VMware released NSX-T 3.2 a few weeks ago! You can read a list of the most important new features in this blog post. Since then, I have got questions about an option in the installation wizard of the NSX-T Manager OVA appliance about GRUB root password and in this post, I want to address it. If you wanted to recover a lost or forgotten password of the root account of the NSX-T Manager appliance, you had to reboot the appliance and force the boot process to enter into the GRUB menu.

But to be able to do that, when everything was under control and you had the root’s password, you needed to log in to NSX managers with root and configure the GRUB Hidden Timeout. There was also a default password configured which we could use or change together with the hidden timeout configuration.

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What’s New in NSX-T 3.2

After a long wait, VMware finally announced NSX-T 3.2 on November 7th, 2021! There was a lot of buzz around this release for the past 2-3 months. In this article, we will look at the new features of this release. The new capabilities are grouped into three major areas; Security, Advanced Networking, and Simplified Operations, which I will list as the most significant enhancements in this article.

When we look at the new features and capabilities list, security enhancements are very bold. So let’s start with the security features and continue with networking and operations enhancements.

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vRealize Log Insight Upgrade Error

Upgrading vRealize Log Insight is a pretty straightforward process. You need to download the upgrade PAK file from VMware website. Then under the Administration section of the vRLI dashboard, under Management click on Cluster, and on the right panel, select Upgrade Cluster. You might have a standard non-cluster vRLI environment but doesn’t matter the upgrade process goes the same path both for standard and cluster environments. Then you just feed the wizard with the downloaded PAK file and then start the upgrade process. Super easy huh?!

It should go that easy, but as you know, when working in the field things always don’t go as planned!

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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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vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager – P1 Introduction & Deployment

If you are using vRealize Suite’s solutions like vRealize Operation, vRealize Automation, or vRealize Log Insight, then vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager(vRSLCM) comes in handy into day to day operations. This product automates the deployment, configuration, and upgrade of the vRealize Suite. If you plan to deploy any of vRealize products or even automate the Day 2 operations like certificate replacement, then vRSLCM is a go-to tool for your use case. It is also worth mentioning that some products like vRelaize Automation(vRA) use this solution as a built-in tool for the deployment process. It is recommended to deploy vRSLCM first and then deploy and other vRealize Suite products due to ease of installation and configuration orchestration. But if you already deployed any of the suite’s products, you can also add them into vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager.

In this blog post and following video tutorial, I show you how to deploy vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager with Easy Installer and lay the foundation for the rest of vRealize Suite products deployment. The license for this product is included in any edition of the vRealize Suite licensing package.

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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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HCX Enhancement for Azure VMware Solution

Earlier this month, VMware released a new version of HCX, the powerful multi-cloud migration solution. With the help of HCX, you can easily migrate your virtual workloads between private clouds and, more importantly, to public cloud environments like Azure VMware Solution(AVS). Additionally, when HCX is being used in conjunction with public cloud SDDCs like AVS, cloud migrations would be as easy as running a vMotion internally inside your data center. Sounds great, isn’t it!

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It is also important to note that many enterprises are using only site-to-site VPN as the connectivity method for on-prem to public cloud infrastructure. Because of this, formal support of HCX over VPN underlay has been asked by many organizations and customers.

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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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