Palo Alto service insertion for Cross Vcenter NSX-V

Palo Alto service insertion for Cross Vcenter NSX-V 

Multi-site with Cross-VC NSX and Palo Alto Networks Security
Cross Vcenter NSX design guide

Palo Alto service insertion in a single vcenter hosted in single DC  

A brief about the Software Defined Data Center topology above:

– A single vcenter.
– A single NSX manager
– A single Panorama
– Controller cluster consisting of three nodes.
– Two clusters under the single vcenter.
– Multiple Logical Switches to which VMs are connected.
– Logical switches are connected to Distributed Logical Router and the gateway for the VMs is the Distributed Logical Router. 
– VMs are protected by Palo Alto Networks VM series firewall applied at the vnic of each VM.
– Two NSX edges to peer with physical network using VLAN and to peer with Distributed Logical Router using VXLAN/Logical Switch.
– Physical firewall is operating in Active/Standby way and hence a single VLAN is used to peer the NSX edges with the firewall.
– A single transport zone to which both the clusters are connected. Logical switches will be defined using this single transport zone.
– NSX domain uses BGP Private AS 64513.
And the physical network uses BGP Private AS 64512. 
– Both the NSX edges are operating in ECMP mode and hence both are two different routers. ECMP mode allows more bandwidth for North-South traffic, potentially close to 20 Gbps for the case of two NSX edges.
– e BGP peering is used between NSX edges and physical firewall
– i BGP peering is used between NSX edges and Distributed Logical Router.

Keeping this SDDC topology in mind, we will now move on to the integration between Palo Alto Networks VM series firewall and VMware NSX-V.

Content filtering techniques of Palo Alto Networks firewall has been covered earlier.

Integration between NSX and Palo Alto Networks VM series firewall brings about benefits like Application ID, vulnerability protection, malware protection, sand boxing and protection from zero day threats, threat analysis, security policies based on user ID, SSL decryption.

Steps for such an integration are:
1. Integrate Panorama with NSX manager.
One Panorama can possibly integrate with multiple NSX managers. And there is no 1:1 relationship between Panorama and NSX Manager.
2. Once the Palo Alto Networks service is available in NSX, prepare the clusters for this service.
Once the clusters are prepared, each host will have a Palo Alto Networks service VM.
Palo Alto Networks service VMs require distributed port groups for networking and data stores for storage.
3. Create security groups in NSX based on static or dynamic inclusion criteria.
5. Leverage these security groups and create redirection policies in NSX. 
This is where you redirect traffic from the VM towards Palo Alto Networks service VM sitting on host where VM resides.
You can also possibly leverage these security groups in Panorama security policies.
There is 1:1 relationship between security groups of NSX and dynamic address groups in Panorama.
Members in Palo Alto Networks dynamic address groups are populated dynamically based on security group criteria of VMware NSX.


A bit about security groups in NSX-V

In NSX-V, you are able to create security groups based on static or dynamic criteria.
Security groups can be created from Service Composer in NSX-V
Static inclusion criteria for NSX 6.4.x can contain the following:

  1. Other security groups to nest within the security group you are creating.
  2. Cluster
  3. Logical switch
  4. Virtual App
  5. Datacenter
  6. IP sets
  7. MAC Sets
  8. Security tag
  9. vNIC
  10. Virtual Machine
  11. Resource Pool
  12. Distributed Virtual Port Group

Security group membership can change constantly.

Dynamic inclusion criteria while creating security group can be based on VM name, security tag, computer OS name.


Next we will cover Cross vcenter NSX along with Palo Alto Networks VM series firewall.

Cross Vcenter NSX-V using BGP has been covered in this blog.
A cross vcenter NSX environment has:
– Two vcenters
– Two NSX managers
– Controller cluster is Universal Controller Cluster
– Primary and Secondary NSX manager.
– Universal Transport Zone 
– Universal Logical Switches
– Universal Distributed Logical Router
– Universal Distributed Firewall

VMs in a Cross vcenter NSX topology are connected to the Universal Logical Switches
In a cross vcenter NSX environment, it is possible to redirect traffic flows towards Palo Alto Networks VM series for workloads that are under the primary vcenter.
This is shown in figure below.

Note: The below topology covers a requirement where there are multiple vcenters in the same site.

Traffic flows for VMs in primary vcenter are supported by Palo Alto Networks service insertion


Cross Vcenter flows are not supported by this Palo Alto Networks service insertion and for such cross vcenter traffic flows you can possibly leverage the NSX Universal Distributed Firewall UDFW.

The key point here is that with UDFW you will create security policies on NSX using Universal IP sets and Universal MAC sets.
You can possibly create security groups with static inclusion of Universal Logical Switch using Service Composer but the effective membership will show VMs from a single vcenter only.

Cross Vcenter traffic flows are not supported by Palo Alto service insertion
You can possibly use Cross Vcenter NSX along with Palo Alto Networks VM series firewall for topology where there is Active Data Center with one vcenter and a Disaster Recovery Site with another vcenter.

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