VMware vRealize Network Insight Overview

This post will walk through the installation and configuration of VMware vRealize Network Insight (vRNI). The latest version is currently v3.5.0, you can see what’s new in v3.5.0 in this VMware blog post. Network Insight integrates with NSX to deliver intelligent operations for software defined networking. The key features and use cases of vRNI include 360 degree visibility and end-to-end troubleshooting across converged infrastructure and physical and virtual networks, performance optimization and topology mapping, physical switch vendor integration, advanced monitoring to ensure health and availability of NSX, rich traffic analytics, change tracking, planning and monitoring of micro-segmentation, and best practice compliance checking. The VMware graphic below shows where vRNI sits in the Software Defined Data Center.

vrni1

Resources

Requirements

  • At least v5.5 of vCenter Server is required, Network Insight versions 3.3.0 and above support vCenter Server 6.5 and 6.5 U1.
    • HTTPS connectivity to vCenter is required to fetch virtual environment information.
  • Distributed switches must be vDS v5.5 or above. The configuration of NetFlow is a requirement but this can be done automatically when adding vCenter as a data source.
  • The screenshot below shows the compatible versions of NSX with Network Insight v3.3.0 through to v3.5.0. For the latest version of NSX (v6.3.3) Network Insight v3.5.0 is needed.
    • HTTPS connectivity to NSX Manager, SSH connectivity to NSX Controller(s), and SSH or Central CLI connectiity to NSX Edge(s) is also required.

NSX_NetworkInsight

Installation

The installation consists of deploying the vRealize Network Insight Platform OVA; preconfigured with 8 vCPU, 32 GB RAM, and 750 GB HDD. Plus the vRealize Network Insight Proxy OVA; preconfigured with 4 vCPU, 10 GB RAM, and 150 GB HDD. Disks can be thin provisioned. A memory and CPU reservation at 50% of the specifications listed is recommended for production environments. The deployment can also be automated using PowerCLI, covered in this blog post by William Lam.

  • Using the download links referenced above, download the vRealize Network Insight – Platform OVA file and the vRealize Network Insight – Proxy OVA file.
  • Manually add DNS entries for the host names and planned IP addresses of the appliances.
  • In the vSphere web client right click the datacenter, cluster, or host to deploy the appliance to, and select Deploy OVF Template. Browse to the downloaded platform OVA file.
  • Follow the standard OVF deployment wizard, selecting the compute, storage, and network configuration to use. Ensure DNS and time settings are configured.
  • Before clicking Finish select Power on after deployment.

When the appliance has deployed navigate to the IP address or FQDN in a web browser. Enter your license key and click Validate, then Activate. On the setup proxy virtual appliance page click Generate to generate a shared secret. Copy the shared secret, you will need this for the proxy deployment, leave the web browser open.

  • In the vSphere web client right click the datacenter, cluster, or host to deploy the appliance to, and select Deploy OVF Template. Browse to the downloaded proxy OVA file.
  • Follow the standard OVF deployment wizard, selecting the compute, storage, and network configuration to use. Ensure DNS and time settings are configured.
  • During the template customization, in the Shared Secret for vRealize Network Insight Proxy field, enter the shared secret generated earlier.
  • Before clicking Finish select Power on after deployment.

Go back to the web browser, after the proxy appliance has powered on it will automatically detect the platform appliance. When this happens the web page will show a proxy detected message, click Finish, you are redirected to the login page. If the deployed proxy is not detected within 5 minutes follow the validation steps outlined in the FAQ document referenced above.

login

Configuration

Log into Network Insight using the default username admin@local and default password password. Select the settings icon in the far right hand corner and click Settings. The Install and Support tab lists the health of the appliances, additional nodes can also be added here.

Settings1

The password of the logged in user, in this case admin@local, can be changed under My Profile.

Click Data Sources and Add new source. This is where we will add the data sources for Network Insight to monitor, first we’ll add vCenter so select VMware vCenter from the drop-down Source Type list.

Settings2

Enter the vCenter IP address or FQDN and credentials with distributed switch and dvPort group modify permissions, click Validate. Enter a friendly name and click Submit to add the data source. In the vSphere client tasks pane you will see NetFlow being configured on the distributed switches. Repeat the process to add the NSX Manager; selecting VMware NSX Manager from the drop-down Source Type list and entering the NSX Manager credentials. You can add multiple vCenter Servers and NSX Managers.

If applicable add any converged infrastructure and physical networking hardware, accounts with read access are required. Once a data source is added information will start trickling in within a few minutes, however the first full data collection can take up to 2 hours. You should also wait at least 24 hours before generating reports.

Examples

When logged in to the web UI, the home page displays a dashboard of problems and events you should be aware of, as well as quick links to plan, operate, and troubleshoot the environment. Return to the home page at any time by clicking the VM icon in the top left hand corner.

Home

Move the mouse cursor over the left hand navigation pane to expand the menu. Navigate through the different options to view path topologies, port and network metrics, and events.

VMPathsHostVLANs

Nearly all components can be selected for deep dive views or path mappings. We can analyse services and flows and troubleshoot problems from within the same interface.

NSXNSXGroupsPlan

Events and Entities allow us to drill down more, when viewing an event, problem, or change click the alarm bell symbol to create a notification for that item. You can also use the search bar which auto-prompts as you type, visible in the screenshot below. Save a search term using the pin icon, saved searches can be accessed in the left hand navigation window at any time. For further use cases consult the user guides referenced above.

Search

One comment

  1. […] For monitoring and troubleshooting the NSX installation you may want to look at vRealize Network Insight. […]

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