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Networking is the most complicated topics in VMware vCloud Director and it is very critical to understand the ins and outs of it, as it touches every Virtual Machine, vApp and Organization of your deployment. In this chapter I will introduce you to the various layers of VMware vCloud Director Networking, their abstraction from the vSphere Layer, their functionality, their interaction with each other, and various use cases that can be applied.

Firstly, I would like to explain how vSphere networking is designed around VMware vNetwork Standard Switches, VMware vNetwork Distributed Switches and Cisco Nexus 1000v Virtual Switches and vmnics. All of these vSphere networking resources are abstracted from the hardware resources such as Physical Switches and Network Interface Cards on vSphere hosts.

VMware vCloud Director is an abstraction from vSphere layer and the same thing applies to the networking as well. So, here the vCloud Layer is abstracting the networking resources from the vSwitches/Port groups and/or dvSwitches/dvPort groups of the vSphere Layer.

Here is an illustration of how the various networking abstractions are done:

vCloud Network Layers

The three layers of networking available in VMware vCloud Director are:

  1. External Networks
  2. Organization Networks
  3. vApp Networks

Cloud is all about providing and consuming, where the providers such as Cloud Computing Service Providers or Enterprises that sell the resources to Consumers such as IT Organizations or Internal Divisions of an Enterprise (for instance, Finance department).

Similarly, in the case of vCloud networking, External and Organization networks are created and managed by Providers, where as Consumers can use those resources using the vApp networks that they can create either manually or automatically.

Now, let me explain each of the layers and their functionalities:

External Networks:

External Networks also known as “Provided Networks” are always created by the Providers and they provide external connectivity to the VMware vCloud Director i.e., they are the doors of vCloud to the outside world. Typically they are created by mapping a dvPort group or Port group coming off of a vNetwork Standard or vNetwork Distributed or Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch at the VMware vSphere layer.

Here are some of the typical use cases for External Networks:

  • Internet Access
  • Provider supplied network endpoints such as:
    • IP based storage
    • Online or offline backup services
    • Backhauled networking services for consumers such as:
      • VPN access to a private cloud
      • MPLS termination

The following illustration shows how an External Network can be used as a gateway to VMware vCloud Director for providing various services mentioned above:

While providing External networks such as Internet, typically the Providers will cater public IP Addresses to the consumers both for inbound and outbound access. While it is possible to create one large External Network and provide it to all the consumers, it is quiet challenging to create and maintain the public IP addresses in one big IP range. Hence, it is recommend creating multiple External Networks at least one per Organization, so the public IP address range can be kept separate for each consumer and can be maintained easily while keeping the multi-tenancy intact.

Organization Networks:

Organization networks are also created by the Providers and are contained within the Organizations, where Organizations are the logical constructs of consumers. The main purpose of them is to connect multiple vApps to communicate with each other and provide connectivity of the vApps to the external world by connecting to the External Networks. In other words, Organization Networks bridge the vApps and the External Networks.

Organization Networks are provisioned from a set of pre-configured network resources called Network Pools, which typically maps a Port group or dvPort group coming off of a vNetwork Standard or vNetwork Distributed or Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch at the VMware vSphere layer. I will cover the Network Pools in my next post.

The Organization Networks can be connected to the External Networks in three different ways:

  • Public or Direct Connectivity: An Organization Network is bridged directly to an External Network, where the deployed vApps are directly connected to the External Network.
  • Private or External NAT/Routed Connectivity: An Organization Network is NAT/Routed to an External Network, where the deployed vApps are connected to the External Network via a vShield Edge that provide Firewall and/or NATing functionality to provide security.
  • Private or Isolated or Internal Connectivity: This is very similar to External or Private NAT/Routed connectivity, except that the Organization Network is not connected to the External Network and is completely isolated within the Organization.

Now, here are some of the typical use cases for the Organization Networks:

  • Consumers that need access to their backhauled networking services via a trusted External Network can be direct connected to External Network
  • Consumers that need access to the Internet via a non-trusted External Network can be NAT/Routed connected to the External Network
  • Consumers that do not need any access to the public networks can use a Private or Isolated or Internal connected Organization Network that is contained within itself.

The following illustration shows how an Organization Network will act as a bridge between vApps and External Networks:

vApp Networks:

vApp networks are created by the Consumers and are contained within the vApps, where vApp is a logical entity comprising of one or more virtual machines. The main purpose of the vApp Networks is to connect multiple Virtual Machines in a vApp to communicate with each other.

vApp Networks are also provisioned from a set of pre-configured network resources called Network Pools, which typically maps a Port group or dvPort group coming off of a vNetwork Standard or vNetwork Distributed or Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch at the VMware vSphere layer. I will cover the Network Pools in my next post.

The vApp Networks can be connected to the Organization Networks in three different ways:

  • Direct Connectivity: A vApp Network is bridged directly to an Organization Network, where the deployed VMs are directly connected to the Organization Network.
  • Fenced Connectivity: A vApp Network is NAT/Routed to an Organization Network, where the deployed VMs are connected to the Organization Network via a vShield Edge that provide Firewall and/or NATing functionality to provide security.
  • Isolated Connectivity: A vApp Network is completely isolated from the other vApps and the Organization Network. This is similar to Isolated Organization Network except that this is isolated only between the VMs in the vApp.

Now, here are some of the typical use cases for the vApp Networks:

  • Consumers that need to communicate to the VMs in other vApps within the same Organization and with the same security requirements can be direct connected to the Organization Network.
  • Consumers that need to communicate to the VMs in other vApps within the same Organization, but with different security requirements can be NAT/Routed connected to the Organization Network. For instance, Production vApps and DMZ vApps within the same Organization need to communicate to each other but through a firewall.
  • Consumers that do not need to communicate to the VMs in other vApps can be isolated from the Organization Network.

The following illustration shows how a vApp Network can be either isolated or connected to the Organization Network:

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