NSX Controller is an advanced distributed state management system that provides control plane functions for NSX logical switching and routing functions. It serves as the central control point for all logical switches within a network and maintains information about all hosts, logical switches (VXLANs), and distributed logical routers. Controllers are required if you are planning to deploy 1) distributed logical routers or 2) VXLAN in unicast or hybrid mode.

About this task

No matter the size of the NSX deployment, VMware requires that each NSX Controller cluster contain three controller nodes. Having a different number of controller nodes is not supported.

The cluster requires that each controller's disk storage system has a peak write latency of less than 300ms, and a mean write latency of less than 100ms. If the storage system does not meet these requirements, the cluster can become unstable and cause system downtime.


VMware recommends that you deploy NSX for vSphere controllers on low-latency disks. To minimize disk issues causing controller timeouts, ensure the /var disk is not shared or virtualized and that the disk is not full or almost full. In addition, ensure that NTP is configured correctly on all controllers and that timestamps are synchronized in case log analysis is required.


  • Before deploying NSX Controllers, you must deploy an NSX Manager appliance and register vCenter with NSX Manager.

  • Determine the IP pool settings for your controller cluster, including the gateway and IP address range. DNS settings are optional. The NSX Controller IP network must have connectivity to the NSX Manager and to the management interfaces on the ESXi hosts.


  1. Log in to the vSphere Web Client.
  2. Navigate to Home > Networking & Security > Installation and select the Management tab.

    For example:

  3. In the NSX Controller nodes section, click the Add Node (add) icon.
  4. Enter the NSX Controller settings appropriate to your environment.

    NSX Controllers should be deployed to a vSphere Standard Switch or vSphere Distributed Switch port group which is not VXLAN based and has connectivity to the NSX Manager, other controllers, and to hosts via IPv4.

    For example:

  5. If you have not already configured an IP pool for your controller cluster, configure one now by clicking New IP Pool.

    Individual controllers can be in separate IP subnets, if necessary.

    For example:

  6. Type and re-type a password for the controller.

    Password must not contain the username as a substring. Any character must not consecutively repeat 3 or more times.

    The password must be at least 12 characters and must follow 3 of the following 4 rules:

    • At least one upper case letter

    • At least one lower case letter

    • At least one number

    • At least one special character

  7. After the first controller is completely deployed, deploy two additional controllers.

    Having three controllers is mandatory. We recommend configuring a DRS anti-affinity rule to prevent the controllers from residing on the same host.


When successfully deployed, the controllers have a Connected status and display a green check mark.

If the deployment was not successful, see Deploying NSX Controllers in the NSX Troubleshooting Guide.