DefinIT

vRealize Automation 7.3 and NSX – Micro-segmentation strategies

vRealize Automation and NSX integration has introduced the ability to deploy multi-tiered applications with network services included. The current integration also enables a method to deploy micro-segmentation out of the box, based on dynamic Security Group membership and the Service Composer. This method does have some limitations, and can be inflexible for the on-going management of deployed applications. It requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of NSX and the Distributed Firewall, as well as access to the Networking and Security manager that is hosted by vCenter Server.

For customers who have deployed a private cloud solution using vRealize Automation, an alternative is to develop a “Firewall-as-a-Service” approach, using automation to allow authorised end users to configure micro-segmentation. This can be highly flexible, and allow the delegation of firewall management to the application owners who have intimate knowledge of the application. There are disadvantages to this approach, including significantly increased effort to author and maintain the automation workflows.

This blog post describes two possible micro-segmentation strategies for vRealize Automation with NSX and compares the two approaches against a common set of requirements.

This post was written based on the following software versions

Software Component Version (Build)
vRealize Automation 7.3 (5604410)
NSX 6.3.5 (7119875) – 6.4
vSphere 6.5 Update 1d (7312210)
ESXi 6.5 Update 1 (5969303)

These are some generic considerations when deploying micro-segmentation with vRealize Automation.

  • An application blueprint is designed to be deployed multiple times from vRealize Automation, the automation shouldn’t break any micro-segmentation or firewall policy when that happens.
  • vRealize Automation blueprints can scale in and out – this should be accommodated within the micro-segmentation strategy to ensure that required micro-segmentation is the same as implemented micro-segmentation.
  • vRealize Automation is a shared platform, so the micro-segmentation of one deployment should be limited in scope, but should also consider intra-deployment communications between applications, for example, of the same business group or tenant.

Application XYZ requirements

For illustration purposes, an example 3-tier application deployment is shown below “Application XYZ“. It consists of a Web, App and DB tier and a load balancer for the Web and App tiers.

Application XYZ Allowed Flows

Application XYZ Allowed Flows

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