Virtualization has changed the way data centers are built. Modern data centers utilize physical servers and hardware as hypervisors to run virtual machines. Virtualizing these functions enhances flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and improve the scalability of the data center. VMware is a leader in the virtualization platform market space. It allows for multiple virtual machines to run on a single physical machine.

One of the most important elements of each data center, including virtualized ones, is the network. Companies that require large or complex network configurations prefer using software-defined networking (SDN).

SDN or Software-defined-networking is an architecture to make networks agile and flexible. It improves network control by equipping companies and service providers with the ability to rapidly respond and adapt to changing technical requirements. It’s a dynamic technology in the world of virtualization.

VMware

In the virtualization market space, VMware is one of the biggest names, offering a wide range of products connected to their virtual workstation, network virtualization, and security platform. VMware NSX has two variants of the product called NSX-V and NSX-T.

In this article, we explore VMware NSX and examine some differences between VMware NSX-V and VMware NSX-T.

What is NSX?

NSX refers to a specialized software-defined networking solution offered by VMware. Its main function is to provide virtualized networking to its users. NSX Manager is the centralized component of NSX, which is used for the management of networks. NSX also provides essential security measures to ensure that the virtualization process is safe and secure.

Businesses seeing the scale and complexity of their networks growing rapidly will need greater power invested in visibility and management. Modernization can be achieved in the implementation of a top-grade data center SDN solution with agile controls. SDN empowers this vision by centralizing and automating management and control.

What is NSX-T?

NSX-T by VMware offers an agile software-defined infrastructure for building cloud-native application environments. It aims to provide automation, simplicity in operations, networking and security.

NSX-T supports multiple clouds, multi-hypervisor environments, and bare-metal workloads. It also supports cloud native applications. NSX-T supports network virtualization stack for OpenStack, Kubernetes, KVM, and Docker as well as AWS native workloads. It can be deployed without a vCenter Server, and it’s adopted for heterogeneous compute systems. NSX-T is considered the future of VMware.

What is NSX-V?

NSX-V architecture features deployment reconfiguration, rapid provisioning, and destruction of the on-demand virtual networks. It integrates with VMware vSphere and is specific to hypervisor environments. Such design utilizes the vSphere distributed switch, allowing a single virtual switch to connect multiple hosts in a cluster.

NSX Components

The primary components of VMware are NSX Edge gateways, NSX Manager, and NSX controllers.

NSX Manager is a primary component that works to manage networks, from a private data center to native public clouds. With NSX-V, the NSX Manager works with one vCenter Server. In the case of NSX-T, the NSX Manager can be deployed as ESXi VM or KVM VM and NSX Cloud. NXT-T Manager runs on the Ubuntu operating system while NSX-V is on Photon OS. The NSX controller is the central hub, controlling all logical switches that are within a network, and secures information of all virtual machines, VXLANs, and hosts.

NSX Edge

NSX Edge is a gateway service that allows VMs access to physical and virtual networks. It can be installed as a services gateway or as a distributed virtual router and provides the following services: Firewalls, Load Balancing, Dynamic routing, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Network Address Translation (NAT), and Virtual Private Network (VPN).

NSX Controllers

NSX Controllers is a distributed state management system that overlays transport tunnels, it controls virtual networks that are deployed as a VM on KVM or ESXi hypervisors. It monitors and controls all logical switches within the network, and manages information about VMs, VXLANs, switches, and hosts. Structured with three controller nodes, it ensures data redundancy if one NSX Controller node malfunctions or fails.

Features of NSX

There are many similar features and capabilities for both NSX types. These include:

  • Distributed routing
  • API-driven automation
  • Detailed monitoring and statistics
  • Software-based overlay
  • Enhanced user interface

There are many differences as well. For example, NSX-T is cloud-based. It is not focused on any specific platform or hypervisor. NSX-V offers tight integration with vSphere. It also uses a manual process to configure the IP addressing scheme for network segments. APIs are also different for NSX-V and NSX-T.

To better understand these concepts, view the VMware NSX-V vs NSX-T table below.

VMware NSX-V vs NSX-T – Feature Comparison

Comparison of Features NSX-V NSX-T
Basic Functions NSX-V offers rich features such as deployment reconfiguration and rapid provisioning and destruction of any on-demand virtual network.

 

This allows a single virtual switch to connect to multiple hosts in a cluster, by utilizing the vSphere distributed switch.

NSX-T provides users with an agile software-defined infrastructure. It can be used for building cloud-native application environments.

 

It also provides simplicity when it comes to operations in networking and security.

 

Multiple clouds, multi-hypervisor environments, and bare-metal workloads are all supported by its data structure.

Origins Originally released in 2012, NSX-V is built around the VMWare vSphere environment. NSX-T also originates from the vSphere ecosystem, designed to address some of the use cases not covered by the NSX-V.
Coverage NSX-V is designed for the sole purpose of allowing on-premises (physical network) vSphere deployments.

 

A single NSX-V manager can work only with a single VMware vCenter server instance. It is only applicable for VMware Virtual Machines.

 

This leaves a significant coverage gap, leaving out organizations and businesses using hybrid infrastructure models.

NSX-T extends its coverage to include multi-hypervisors, containers, public clouds, and bare metal servers.

 

Since it is decoupled from VMware’s hypervisor platform, it can easily incorporate agents. This is done to perform micro-segmentation even on non-VMware platforms.

 

The NSX-T’s limitations include some feature gaps. It also leaves out certain micro-segmentation solutions like Guardicore Centra.

Working with NSX Manager NSX-V works with only one vCenter Server. It runs on Photon OS. NSX-T can be deployed as ESXi VM or KVM VM and NSX Cloud. It runs on the Ubuntu operating system.
Deployment NSX-V requires registration with VMware as the NSX Manager needs to be registered.

 

The NSX Manager calls for extra NSX Controllers for deployment.

NSX-T requires the ESXi hosts or transport nodes to be registered first.

 

The NSX Manager acts as a standalone solution. NSX-T requires users to configure the N-VDS which includes the uplink.

Routing NSX-V uses network edge security and gateway services which are used to isolate virtualized networks.

 

NSX Edge is installed both as a logical distributed router as well as an edge services gateway.

NSX-T routing is designed for cloud environments and multi-cloud use. It is designed for multi-tenancy use cases.
Overlay encapsulation protocols VXLAN – NSX-V uses the VXLAN encapsulation protocol GENEVE – NSX-T uses GENEVE which is a more advanced protocol
Logical switch replication modes Unicast, Multicast, Hybrid Unicast (Two-tier or Head)
Virtual switches (N-VDS) used vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS) Open vSwitch (OVS) or VDS
Two-tier distributed routing Not Available Available
APR Suppression Available Available
Integration for traffic inspection Available Not Available
Configuring IP addresses scheme for network segments Manual Automatic
Kernel Level Distributed Firewall Available Available

Deployment Options

The process of deployment looks quite similar for both, yet there are many differences between the NSX-V and NSX-T features. Here are some critical differences in deployment:

  • With NSX-V, there is a requirement to register with VMware. An NSX Manager needs to be registered.
  • NSX-T allows pointing the NSX-T solution to the VMware vCenter for registering the ESXi hosts or Transport Nodes.
  • NSX-V Manager provides a standalone solution. It calls for extra NSX Controllers for deployment.
  • NSX-Manager integrates controller functionality and NSX Manager in the virtual appliance. NSX-T Manager becomes a combined appliance.
  • NSX-T has an extra configuration of N-VDS which should be completed. This includes the uplink.

Routing

The differences in routing are evident between NSX-T and NSX-V. NSX-T is designed for the cloud and multi-cloud. It is for multi-tenancy use cases, which requires the support of multi-tier routing.

NSX-V features network edge security and gateway services, which can isolate virtualized networks. NSX Edge is installed as a logical distributed router. It is also installed as an edge services gateway.

Choosing between NSX-V and NSX-T

The major differences are evident as seen in the table above, and help us understand the variables in NSX-V vs. NSX-T systems. One is closely associated with the VMWare ecosystem. The other is unrestricted, not focused on any specific platform or hypervisor. To identify for whom each software is best, take into consideration how each option will be used and where it will run:

Choosing NSX-V:

  • NSX-V is recommended in cases where a customer already has a virtualized application in the data center. The customer might want to create network virtualization for the current application.
  • For customers who value the presence of several tightly integrated features which would be most beneficial in this case.
  • If a customer is considering a virtualization application for a current application, NSX-V is recommended.
Use Cases For NSX-V:
Security – Secure end-user, DMZ anywhere
Application continuity – Disaster recovery, Multi data center pooling, Cross cloud

 

Choosing NSX-T:

  • In cases where a customer wants to build modern applications on platforms such as Pivotal Cloud Foundry or OpenShift, NSX-T is recommended. This is due to the vSphere enrollment support (migration coordinator) it provides.
  • You plan to build on modern applications, like OpenShift or Pivotal Cloud.
  • There are multiple types of hypervisors available.
  • If there are any network interfaces to modern applications.
  • You are using multi-cloud-based and cloud networking applications.
  • You are using a variety of environments.
Use Cases For NSX-T:
Security – Micro-segmentation
Automation – Automating IT, Developer cloud, Multi-tenant infrastructure

Note: VMware NSX-V and NSX-T have many distinct features, a totally different code base, and cater to different use cases.

Conclusion: VMware’s NSX Options Provide a Strong Network Virtualization Platform

NSX-T and NSX-V both solve many virtualization issues, offer full feature sets, and provide an agile and secure environment. NSX-V is the proven and original software-defined solution. It is best if you need a network virtualization platform for existing applications.

NSX-T is the way of the future. It provides you with all of the necessary tools for moving your data, no matter the underlying physical network, and helps you adjust to the constant change in applications.

The choice you make depends on which NSX features meet your business needs. What do you use or prefer? Contact us for more information on NSX-T pricing and NSX-V to NSX-T migration. Keep reading our blog to learn more about different tools and how to find best-suited solutions for your networking requirements.