NSX Advanced Load Balancer (ALB), formerly known as Avi Vantage, provides L4+L7 load balancing services to the deployments on vSphere. Tanzu Kubernetes Grid includes VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer Essentials Edition.
The management cluster deployments on Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure creates the Amazon EC2 or Azure load balancer instances automatically. They do not require the load balancing services offered by NSX ALB.
You can configure NSX Advanced Load Balancer (ALB) in Tanzu Kubernetes Grid as:
Each workload cluster integrates with NSX ALB by running an Avi Kubernetes Operator (AKO) on one of its nodes. The cluster’s AKO calls the Kubernetes API to manage the lifecycle of load balancing and ingress resources for its workloads.
As a load balancer, NSX ALB provides an L4+L7 load balancing solution for vSphere. It includes a Kubernetes operator that integrates with the Kubernetes API to manage the lifecycle of load balancing and ingress resources for workloads.
Legacy ingress services for Kubernetes include multiple disparate solutions. The services and products contain independent components that are difficult to manage and troubleshoot. The ingress services have reduced observability capabilities with little analytics, and they lack comprehensive visibility into the applications that run on the system. Cloud-native automation is difficult in the legacy ingress services.
In comparison to the legacy Kubernetes ingress services, NSX ALB has comprehensive load balancing and ingress services features. As a single solution with a central control, NSX ALB is easy to manage and troubleshoot. NSX ALB supports real-time telemetry with an insight into the applications that run on the system. The elastic auto-scaling and the decision automation features highlights the cloud-native automation capabilities of NSX ALB.
To configure the NSX ALB on your workload clusters, see Configure NSX Advanced Load Balancer.
NSX ALB also lets you configure L7 ingress for your workload clusters by using one of the following options:
This option enables NSX Advanced Load Balancer L7 ingress capabilities, including sending traffic directly from the service engines (SEs) to the pods, preventing multiple hops that other ingress solutions need when sending packets from the load balancer to the right node where the pod runs. This option is fully supported by VMware. However, each workload cluster needs a dedicated SE group for Avi Kubernetes Operator (AKO) to work, which could increase the amount of SEs you need for your environment.
Like the option above, this option avoids the potential extra hop when sending traffic from the NSX Advanced Load Balancer SEs to the pod by targeting the right nodes where the pods run, this time by leveraging the integration between NSX Advanced Load Balancer and Antrea. With this option, the workload clusters can share SE groups. However, VMware support will not assist in configuring or troubleshooting this option.
NodePort mode is the default mode when AKO is installed on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. This option allows your workload clusters to share SE groups and is fully supported by VMware. In this mode, traffic will leverage standard Kubernetes NodePort behavior, including its limitations, and will require services to be of type
This option lets workload clusters share SE groups, it is supported by VMware, and requires minimal setup. However, you will not have all the NSX Advanced Load Balancer L7 ingress capabilities.
|NSX ALB L7 ClusterIP mode||NSX ALB L7 NodePortLocal mode||NSX ALB L7 NodePort mode||NSX ALB L4 with Contour L7|
|Minimal SE groups required||N||Y||Y||Y|
|NSX ALB L7 ingress capabilities||Y||Y||Y||N|
To configure the NSX ALB L7 ingress, see Configuring L7 Ingress with NSX Advanced Load Balancer.
You can use NSX ALB as the control plane endpoint provider in Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. The following table describes the differences between NSX ALB and Kube-Vip, which is the default control plane endpoint provider in Tanzu Kubernetes Grid.
|Sends Traffic to||Single control plane node
||Multiple control plane nodes
|Requires configuring endpoint VIP||Yes
Assigns VIP from the NSX ALB static IP pool
To configure NSX Advanced Load Balancer as a cluster’s control plane HA Provider, see NSX Advanced Load Balancer.
To change a cluster’s control plane HA Provider to NSX Advanced Load Balancer, see Configure NSX Advanced Load Balancer.
NSX Advanced Load Balancer includes the following components:
VirtualServiceobjects and interacts with the vCenter Server infrastructure to manage the lifecycle of the service engines (SEs). It is the portal for viewing the health of
VirtualServicesand SEs and the associated analytics that NSX Advanced Load Balancer provides. It is also the point of control for monitoring and maintenance operations such as backup and restore.
Ingressspecifications, or other relevant custom resource definitions. When the AKO detects a change, it calls the Avi Controller API to make the change in the Avi resources, for example create a new load balancer
VirtualServiceobject and connect it with pods running in the cluster.
You can deploy NSX Advanced Load Balancer in the topology illustrated in the figure below.
The topology diagram above shows the following configuration:
For more information on the architecture of NSX ALB on vSphere, see VMware Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations on vSphere Reference Design.
Configure different SE group and VIP network set ups in different workload clusters by using
AKODeploymentConfig.spec.clusterSelector.matchLabels. For more information about how to use
AKODeploymentConfig to configure the following scenario recommendations, see Create Multiple NSX ALB Configurations for Different Workload Clusters in Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Networking.
In the topology illustrated above, NSX Advanced Load Balancer provides the following networking, IPAM, isolation, tenancy, and Avi Kubernetes Operator functionalities.
With NSX Advanced Load Balancer Essentials, all workload cluster users are associated with the single admin tenant.
Avi Kubernetes Operator is installed on Tanzu Kubernetes clusters. It is configured with the Avi Controller IP address and the user credentials that Avi Kubernetes Operator uses to communicate with the Avi Controller. A dedicated user per workload is created with the admin tenant and a customized role. This role has limited access, as defined in https://github.com/avinetworks/avi-helm-charts/blob/master/docs/AKO/roles/ako-essential.json.
You install Avi Controller on vCenter Server by downloading and deploying an OVA template. These instructions provide guidance specific to deploying Avi Controller for Tanzu Kubernetes Grid.
Follow the installer prompts to deploy a VM from the OVA template, referring to the Deploying Avi Controller OVA instructions in the Avi Networks documentation.
Select the following options in the OVA deployment wizard:
nsx-adv-lb-controllerand the datacenter in which to deploy it.
It takes some time for the deployment to finish.
When the OVA deployment finishes, power on the resulting VM.
After you power on the VM, it takes some time for it to be ready to use.
In vCenter, create a vSphere account for the Avi controller, with permissions as described in VMware User Role for Avi Vantage in the Avi Networks documentation.
For full details of how to set up the Controller, see the Performing the Avi Controller Initial setup in the Avi Controller documentation.
This section provides some information about configuration that has been validated on Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, as well as some tips that are not included in the Avi Controller documentation.
NOTE: If you are using an existing Avi Controller, you must make sure that the VIP Network that is be used during Tanzu Kubernetes Grid management cluster deployment has a unique name across all AVI Clouds.
In a browser, go to the IP address of the Controller VM.
Configure a password to create an admin account.
Optionally set DNS Resolvers and NTP server information, set the backup passphrase, and click Next.
Setting the backup passphrase is mandatory.
Select None to skip SMTP configuration, and click Next.
For Permissions, select Write.
This allows the Controller to create and manage SE VMs.
For SDN Integration select None and click Next.
For System IP Address Management Setting, enable the DHCP Enabled checkbox if your data plane networks have DHCP. Otherwise, leave the DHCP Enabled checkbox disabled.
For Virtual Service Placement Settings, leave both checkboxes unchecked and click Next.
Select a virtual switch to use as the management network NIC in the SEs. Select the same network that you used when you deployed the controller.
If you enabled DHCP for your data plane networks, enable the DHCP Enabled checkbox for your management network. Otherwise leave the checkbox disabled and configure IP Subnet and Static IP Address Pool to set the management network address range. Click Next.
For Support Multiple Tenants, select No.
There are additional settings to configure in the Controller UI before you can use NSX Advanced Load Balancer.
In the Controller UI, go to Applications > Templates > Profiles > IPAM/DNS Profiles, click Create and select IPAM Profile.
In the IPAM/DNS Profiles view, click Create again and select DNS Profile.
NOTE: The DNS Profile is optional for using Service type
LoadBalancer, but it is mostly relevant if you use AVI DNS VS as your Name Server.
Click the menu in the top left corner and select Infrastructure > Clouds.
For Default-Cloud, click the edit icon and under IPAM Profile and DNS Profile, select the IPAM and DNS profiles that you created above.
Select the DataCenter tab.
Do not update the Network section yet.
Edit the network to add a pool of IPs to be used as a VIP.
Edit the subnet and add an IP Address pool range within the boundaries, for example 192.168.14.210-192.168.14.219.
The default NSX Advanced Load Balancer certificate does not contain the Controller’s IP or FQDN in the Subject Alternate Names (SAN), however valid SANs must be defined in Avi Controller’s certificate. You consequently must create a custom certificate to provide when you deploy management clusters.
For Subject Alternate Name (SAN), enter either the IP address or FQDN, or both, of the Controller VM.
If only the IP address or FQDN is used, it must match the value that you use for Controller Host when you configure NSX Advanced Load Balancer settings during management cluster deployment, or specify in the
AVI_CONTROLLER variable in the management cluster configuration file.
Copy the certificate contents.
You will need the certificate contents when you deploy management clusters.
Finish setting up the Avi Controller by enabling the Essentials license, if required.
Your NSX Advanced Load Balancer deployment is ready for you to use with management clusters.