VMware NSX for vSphere, the network virtualization platform, is a key solution in the SDDC architecture. The NSX for vSphere platform consists of several components that are relevant to the network virtualization design.

NSX for vSphere Platform

NSX for vSphere creates a network virtualization layer. All virtual networks are created on top of this layer, which is an abstraction between the physical and virtual networks. Several components are required to create this network virtualization layer:

  • vCenter Server

  • NSX Manager

  • NSX Controllers

  • NSX Virtual Switch

These components are separated into different planes to create communications boundaries and provide isolation of workload data from system control messages.

Data plane

Workload data is contained wholly within the data plane. NSX logical switches segregate unrelated workload data. The data is carried over designated transport networks in the physical network. The NSX vSwitch, distributed routing, and the distributed firewall are also implemented in the data plane.

Control plane

Network virtualization control messages are located in the control plane. Control plane communication should be carried on secure physical networks (VLANs) that are isolated from the transport networks used for the data plane. Control messages are used to set up networking attributes on NSX Virtual Switch instances, as well as to configure and manage disaster recovery and distributed firewall components on each ESXi host.

Management plane

The network virtualization orchestration happens in the management plane. In this layer, cloud management platforms such as VMware vRealize Automation can request, consume, and destroy networking resources for virtual workloads. Communication is directed from the cloud management platform to vCenter Server to create and manage virtual machines, and to NSX Manager to consume networking resources.