One-Arm VLAN-Backed Load Balancer in NSX-T

There are two main deployment methods for Load Balancers in NSX-T, both offer the same features so the differences are just in connectivity:

  • Inline/Transparent – The load balancer sits in the middle of the network between the clients and servers, so one interface receives the client traffic, another forwards to the servers .The source IP remains the client’s original IP, so the back end servers must have a route back, which should go via the load balancer. See the implementation here
  • One-Arm – Uses the same interface to receive the client traffic as it does to reach the back end servers. This method requires the use of SNAT to modify the client IP to that of the load balancer. The back end servers only need to know how to get back to the load balancer, not the original clients.

Using a VLAN-backed Segment will allow the load balancer to direct traffic to both VM and bare metal workloads that may live on the same broadcast domain.

There are two supported connectivity methods for the ‘arm’ in the One Arm Load Balancer in NSX-T. One uses a T1 Uplink Interface to connect to a T0, but unlike Inline, uses the same interface to reach the back end servers. The other, which is the focus of this post, uses a T1 Service Interface to provide connectivity:

Setup the Network

First create a VLAN Segment, which will be used to connect VMs to be load balanced. It should be connected to a Transport Zone that is applied to the hosts that will run the VMs and also the Edge Custer that will be used to host the T1 Gateway that will be created next:

Then create a new T1 Gateway. It should be assigned to an Edge Cluster in order to run the centralised load balancer service, but doesn’t need to be connected to a T0:

Then create a Service Interface on the T1 that connects to the VLAN Segment created at the start:

Then create a static route on the T1 to reach the external networks. The next hop could be another T1 (that connects to a T0) or the physical network, depending on your setup:

Configure the Load Balancer

Create a Load Balancer in Load Balancing > Load Balancers > Add Load Balancer and attach it to the T1 Gateway:

Create a Server Pool to specify which back-end servers are to be load balanced. Note that the SNAT Translation Mode is set to Automap, which means the Source IP will be that of the T1 rather than the original client IP. :

The Members/Group contains the criteria to match the back-end servers, this could be using Tags, VM Names, or for non-NSX-aware workloads such as bare metal IP addresses:

This is also wher eyou can set a back end port, if this is different to your front end. E.g. if the app runs on port 8000, but we want the clients to go to 80, set 8000 for the members and set 80 later in the Virtual Server:

Then create a Virtual Server, which acts as the entry point to the Load Balancer, setting the virtual IP/port/protocol. It needs to reference the Pool that’s just been created and is attached to the Load Balancer:

At this point the topology from NSX looks like this:

Checking the Traffic

Now the Load Balancer should be switching between the two pool members, using the Round Robin method:

Checking the statistics shows traffic going to both the VM workloads and the bare metal, which was specified by IP:

Checking the web server logs shows that the client source address is the T1 Service Interface address:

The return traffic then goes via the T1 before returning to the client.

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