VMware NSX for vSphere creates the network virtualization layer 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

All virtual networks are created on top of the network virtualization layer, which is an abstraction between the physical and virtual networks. Creating this network virtualization layer requires the following components:

  • vCenter Server

  • NSX Manager

  • NSX Controllers

  • NSX logical switch

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

Data plane

The data plane handles the workload data only. NSX logical switches separate unrelated workload data. Data is carried over a designated transport network in the physical network. NSX logical switches, distributed routing, and distributed firewall are also implemented in the data plane.

Control plane

The control plane handles network virtualization control messages. Control messages are used to set up networking attributes on NSX logical switch instances, and to configure and manage distributed routing and firewall components on each ESXi host. Control plane communication is carried on secure physical networks (VLANs) that are isolated from the transport networks used for the data plane.

Management plane

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