One of the hidden gems that is included in the VMware Cloud on AWS (VMConAWS) service is HCX. HCX is an application mobility platform, designed for simplifying application migration, workload rebalancing and optimized disaster recovery across data centers and clouds. HCX was formerly known as Hybrid Cloud eXtension or NSX Hybrid Connect.
HCX is available as a solution for vSphere Private Clouds, VMware Cloud Director based Clouds and for VMware Cloud on AWS. From a licensing standpoint HCX Advanced is included in the NSX-DC Enterprise Plus license (and thus included in VCF Enterprise & Platinum), HCX Advanced is also included in the VMConAWS service. In this article I will focus on this last scenario, so leveraging HCX in combination with VMConAWS and your on-premises environment.
The top leading use-cases for HCX are:
- Application Migration – Datacenter evacuation, datacenter refresh and greenfield upgrade/migrate;
- Workload Rebalancing – Multi-cloud workload migration / rebalancing;
- Disaster Protection – DR to the cloud, secure scheduled migration.
These features are included in HCX Advanced. Since August 2019 HCX Enterprise is also available, this version is adds the following features:
- Non-vSphere Bulk Migration – KVM + Hyper-V to vSphere migration;
- Large Scale Live Migration – Replicated assisted vMotion and live bulk migration with zero down time;
- Optimized Disaster Recovery – advanced disaster recovery with SRM readiness.
HCX offers various services that are delivered through one more virtual appliances. It all starts with HCX (Enterprise) Manager, where additional appliances are added depending on the required functionality/services. A full overview of the required HCX Components is available here. HCX services are configured, enabled and deployed as virtual appliance at the source site, with a peer appliance at the destination site. In case of VMConAWS you only have to take of the appliances that are deployed at the on-premises site – VMConAWS will take care of the rest.
The following diagram details the different components and their relationships:
Notice that the HCX Enterprise Manager is called the HCX Cloud Manager at the VMConAWS site. The HCX Sentinel Gateway Appliance and Sentinel Data Receiver Appliance are not included in this diagram, and are used for migrating non-vSphere VMs. Also notice that HCX requires an internet connection to HCX SaaS service.
The initial configuration of HCX is pretty straightforward and consists of the following steps:
- Download and install the HCX Enterprise Manager;
- Create a Compute Profile – A compute profile contains the compute, storage and network settings. You also select the HCX Services you want to enable in the compute profile;
- Create a Network Profile – A network profile is required for each network you intend to use with HCX services (management/uplink/vMotion/vSphere Replication);
- Adding a Site Pair – This is the actual connection between two sites required for management, authentication and orchestration of HCX services;
- Creating a Service Mesh – The Service Mesh is the effective HCX services configuration: adding a Service Mesh initiates the deployment of the HCX appliances.
After the Create Service Mesh task is completed, the required virtual appliances are deployed to the designated cluster/datastore. This process will take a couple of minutes.
After the initial configuration you’re able to consume HCX services. Full details are enclosed in the on-line manual.
Check out part 2 to learn more about the HCX Network Extension Service.