VMware NSX-V to NSX-T Migration Deadlines and Support
When VMware acquired Nicira in 2012 the public cloud industry was barely a $100 billion business and it would take Kubernetes (K8s) two more years to be released. Today, the public cloud is a $330 billion industry, and Kubernetes has become the container orchestrator of choice transforming the way applications are built and managed.
When VMware released NSX for vSphere (NSX-V) in 2013 it only supported vSphere based workloads severely limiting its ability to support native cloud workloads, containers, and even bare metal servers. It is worth noting that there was a less popular NSX release that pre-dated NSX-V called NSX Multi-Hypervisor of NSX-MH primarily focused on KVM-based workloads.
In 2014 VMware saw both the cloud and container markets quickly growing and decided to start development on a new NSX iteration that could support containerized, physical, and cloud workloads. In 2017 NSX-T was released to help address these challenges. NSX-T was a complete re-write and boasted a new architecture that made it possible for NSX-T to run as an agent allowing it to support workloads running in the public cloud, containers, and bare metal servers.
Supporting NSX-V customers while delivering on NSX-T’s roadmap became difficult for VMware, so in 2018 VMware announced the NSX-V End of Support Life (EOS) date of January 16, 2022, and the end of technical guidance of January 16, 2023.
This decision forces existing NSX-V customers to migrate to NSX-T. Since NSX runs at the hypervisor level, this migration was not a simple one. It would require complete removal of the NSX-V components that run in the hypervisor, a reboot of the host, and the installation of the NSX-T components.
What will change come January 2022?
Come January 2022, there will be no updates, upgrades, bug fixes, new hardware support, and server/OS updates for NSX-V customers. Not to mention, you won’t get a human on the phone for break/fix help. Online support only.
We recommend any workloads running on NSX-V be migrated to NSX-T before January 2022.
VMware Lifecycle Support Summary
VMware NSX-V to NSX-T Documentation:
Since both NSX-V and NSX-T are installed using vSphere Installation Bundles or VIBs and run as a service at the hypervisor level, they cannot coexist on the same vSphere host. This means the migration process is not as simple as clicking next, next, next. To help ease this migration complexity, VMware has provided several tools and documentation for assisting customers in migrating from NSX-V to NSX-T. Below is a list of do-it-yourself resources VMware has provided:
VMware Provided Tools and Documentation:
- NSX-T Migration Coordinator:
- You’re entitled to the Migration Coordinator if you own NSX-T Data Center licenses. It was first released as part of NSX-T 2.4.
- The Migration Coordinator supports two migration types, Parallel Migration or In-Place Migrations.
- Parallel Migrations: Parallel Migrations allow you to build a greenfield NSX-T environment in parallel to the existing NSX-V environment and then perform a lift and shift to the new NSX-T environment
- In-Place Migrations: In-place, migrations remove the need for additional hardware and allow users to migrate in -place in a coordinated fashion. The migration tool automates the placement of the host in maintenance mode, the removal of NSX-V, and the installation and configuration of NSX-T. Calling this migration process an in-place migration is a stretch. However, the process is somewhat automated which helps ease some of the work.
- vRA NSX-V to T Migration Coordinator:
- For vRealize Automation 8 customers, VMware has added one module to the already existing vRA Migration Assistant. The purpose of this tool before 8.3 was solely focused on migrating customers from vRA 7.X to vRA 8.X. The NSX-V to NSX-T module has been added, which helps customers migrate from NSX-V to NSX-T from the perspective of vRA. VRA heavily integrates with NSX, and this tool automates the migration from NSX-V to NSX-T after NSX-T has been installed and configured.
- NSX-V to T Migration Documentation:
- Migration Coordinator
- Blog: https://blogs.vmware.com/networkvirtualization/2020/01/migration-from-vmware-nsx-v-to-t.html/
- NSX Migration Coordinator Guide: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-T-Data-Center/3.1/migration/GUID-7899A104-2662-4FC9-87B2-F4688FAEBBBA.html
- NSX-T Data Center
- Installation and Configuration: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-T-Data-Center/3.1/installation/GUID-3E0C4CEC-D593-4395-84C4-150CD6285963.html
- Administrator Guide: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-NSX-T-Data-Center/3.1/administration/GUID-FBFD577B-745C-4658-B713-A3016D18CB9A.html
- VRA Migration Assistant
- vRA NSX-T to NSX-V Migration Guide: https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.4/vrealize-automation-v2tmigration/GUID-0D1B5D79-66B6-4732-9E04-E6DBD74C9DB5.html
- Migration Coordinator
- NSX-T Entitlement for NSX-V Customers
- When NSX-T 1.0 was released VMware entitled all NSX-V customers to NSX-T. This means that after converting the licenses in their portal customers could deploy NSX-T without having to re-purchase the product. In essence, any NSX-V customer is entitled to both NSX-V and NSX-T and it is their choice which they deploy. However, a license conversion is necessary via the VMware customer portal to obtain the required keys.
- NSX Enterprise Free Upgrade
- When NSX-T was released, VMware released a new edition of NSX called NSX Enterprise Plus. NSX Enterprise Plus includes access to vRNI, NSX Intelligence, Federation, and E-VPN. Per the below KB article, customers that own NSX-V Enterprise and vRealize Network Insight Advanced or greater are entitled to a free upgrade to NSX Data Center Enterprise Plus. In order to take advantage of this please follow this KB article: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/55057
- NSX-V Enterprise Customers
- NSX-V Enterprise customers that don’t own vRNI advanced or greater can still upgrade to NSX-T. The functionality in NSX-Enterprise is similar to what is provided in NSX-T Advanced. These customers are able to upgrade their keys in the VMware portal from NSX-V Enterprise to NSX-T Advanced.
Why work with a partner:
NSX has become a platform that sits at the heart of the data center. It has integrations into firewall appliances, load balancers, anti-virus software, to name a few of the integration points. NSX can also provide overlay networks that stretch virtual routers across data center boundaries creating a layer two over layer three network. It also provides east/west traffic micro-segmentation, distributed IDS/IPS, and Network Detection and Response capabilities.
All this integration and functionality means more migration complexity. Not to mention the ever-changing NSX-T solution set. For example, up until recently, NSX-V and NSX-T load balancing capabilities have been provided via an NGINX-based load balancer. Although this load balancer is still available in the product today, the NGINX load balancer will soon go end of life, clearing the way for the AVI Networks to debut inside the NSX Manager UI. AVI Networks was an acquisition VMware made to help bolster its load balancing capabilities in containers and in the public cloud. VMware has plans to eventually do away with the NGINX load balancer in favor of AVI. As a result, VMware is allowing ALL NSX-T customers to leverage a modified version of the AVI load balancer with a similar feature set to the NGINX-based load balancer.
Because partners work with many customers and perform these migrations time and time again, they have an advantage in understanding all of the moving pieces of NSX-V to T migrations. VMware’s decision to eventually end of life the NGINX load balancer available in NSX Data Center today in favor of AVI Networks is just one example of the many ‘gotchas’ related to this migration.