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NSX Advanced Load Balancer (NSX ALB) is a multi-cloud software-defined load balancer that provides scalable application delivery across any infrastructure. NSX ALB is 100% software-defined and some of the key features include:
- Multi-cloud: Consistent experience across deployment of on-premises and cloud environments through central management and orchestration.
- Intelligence: Built-in analytics drive actionable insights that make autoscaling seamless, automation intelligent, and decision making easy.
- Automation: 100% REST APIs enable self-service provisioning and integration into the CI/CD pipeline for application delivery.
NSX ALB Use Cases
The key features driving the customers towards NSX ALB adoption are:
- Load Balancer refresh.
- Multi-Cloud initiatives (sysin).
- Security including WAF, DDoS attack mitigation, achieve compliance (GDPR, PCI, HIPAA).
- Container ingress (integrates via REST APIs with K8s ecosystems like GKE, OpenShift, EKS, AKS, TKG).
Architecture and Components of NSX ALB
The diagram below shows the high-level architecture of NSX ALB.
Figure 1 - NSX ALB Architecture
As shown in Fig 1, the NSX ALB controller acts as an entry point for UI/API operations for services and management. The controller interacts with the vCenter Server and NSX-T in an SDDC via API for auto-discovery of SDDC objects like ESXi Hosts, Network port groups, etc. The Service Engines are placed on the ESXi host and perform the L4/L7 load balancing for the applications deployed in the SDDC.
NSX ALB consists of two main components:
- NSX ALB Controller: NSX ALB Controller is the central repository for the configuration and policies and can be deployed in both on-prem environments or in the cloud. NSX ALB Controller is deployed in VM form factor and can be managed using its web interface, CLI, or REST API.
- Service Engines (SE): The Service Engines (SEs) are lightweight data plane engines that handle all data plane operations by receiving and executing instructions from the controller.
The controller handles the following tasks:
- All platform related configuration is done on controllers.
- Manage and store all policies related to services and management.
- Responsible for deploying Service Engines (sysin).
- Manage the placement of virtual services on SEs to load balance new applications or scale-up capacity of current applications.
- Facilitates UI console to perform the configuration and management.
- Host API services and the management plane cluster daemons.
The responsibilities of Service Engines are:
- Perform load balancing and all client and server-facing network interactions.
- Collect real-time application telemetry from application traffic flows.
- Execute data plane application delivery controls operations, such as health monitoring and test the performance of the back-end servers.
- Protect against security threats (DoS, suspicious client IPs).
Why you should choose NSX ALB
Traditional hardware load balancers have the following limitations:
- No Auto Scaling when load balancer runs out of capacity for the virtual service placement
- No Self-healing in a failure scenario
- Manual Virtual Service placement
- Complex upgrade procedure
- Compatibility with various platforms/cloud infrastructure.
NSX ALB is a 100% software-defined solution designed to address the above challenges.
NSX ALB Use Cases in VMware Cloud on AWS
- Load balancing of application inside an SDDC.
- Global load balancing across 2 or more SDDCs in VMware Cloud on AWS or between on-prem environment and an SDDC running in VMware Cloud.
- Integrates with Tanzu Kubernetes Cluster (TKG) to provide load balancing functionality for the Kubernetes workloads.
- Utilize NSX ALB in a hybrid model to provide load balancing of applications stretched between on-prem datacenter and SDDC in VMC.
VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer (NSX ALB) 21.1.3
VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer (NSX ALB) 21.1.4
VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer (NSX ALB) 21.1.5
VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer (NSX ALB) 21.1.6 (11/25/2022) with 21.1.6-2p8 (10/20/2023)