vRealize Network Insight introduction and Installation


Quick Intro to vRNI

In June of 2016 VMware acquired a company called Arkin Net and named the product vRealize Network Insight. It didn’t take long for a nickname to emerge from the acronym in the form of “vernie.” This nickname has got some great rebranding from customers and employees ranging from “Weekend at vernies” to the picture below.
There are a couple of version of vRNI, an assessment which can be performed by your local SE or partner reseller and a full version which is an add on to NSX licensing. You can also play around with the product in our Hands on Labs by clicking here: HOL-1729-SDC-1- Introduction to vRealize Network Insight. The full version of vRNI has 3 main use cases, here are some teaser screenshots below.

  • Microsegmentation Planning

  • 360 degree visibility of Networking – Virtual and Physical

  • Advanced NSX Operations

The assessment version will give you microsegmentation planning and will show you what percentage of traffic in your environment is East-West (server to server) versus North-South (in and out of the datacenter). It has been said that the industry average is currently around 80% E-W and 20% N-S and whenever I do an assessment in a customer’s environment I typically see 95-99% of traffic being E-W. I’ll put on my sales hat for a second to ask the question: What are you doing to secure 80% of the traffic in your environment? If the answer is nothing, it might be time to take a look at one of NSX’s many use cases: Microsegmentation. Ok, sales hat back off. vRNI will use IPFIX on the VDS to show you all of the flows in your environment which can be sorted by VLAN, VMs, Clusters, etc in a nice interactive flow chart. It allows you to quickly understand application traffic flows including endpoint IPs and ports to start planning for microsegmentation firewall rules. Finally, it will print out a Data Center Security and Assessment report which summarize your E-W flows and provide key recommendations on security.
If you would like to see a sample report, you can open this PDF. vRNI Sample Report
I will be going through these use cases in much more detail in an additional post. For now, I want to walk through the installation process. It’s very easy to install and can typically be done in 30-45 minutes not including the time required to download the OVA files.


First, let’s go over some requirements for the installation. The one I want to highlight, is you will need to be using the Distributed Switch (version 5.5 or higher).
Minimum resource requirements

    vRealize Network Insight Platform OVA

  • 8 cores – Reservation 4096 Mhz
  • 32 GB RAM – Reservation – 16GB
  • 750 GB – HDD, Thin provisioned
  • vRealize Network Insight Proxy OVA
  • 4 cores – Reservation 2048 Mhz
  • 10 GB RAM – Reservation – 5GB
  • 150 GB – HDD, Thin provisioned
    vSphere Versions

  • 5.5 Update 2 (Build 2068190) and above
  • 6.0 Update 1b (Build 3380124) and above

Step 1. Deploy the vRealize Network Insight Platform OVA.
Step 2. Navigate to the proxy IP or FQDN in google chrome or firefox (IE won’t work). Assign License key, then click Validate.
Step 3. Click on Generate to get a new shared key. Copy the key because you will need it when deploying the platform OVA.
Step 4. Deploy the Platform OVA.
Step 5. The vRNI Platform should automatically discover the proxy VM. Once it does, click Finish and then login with the username admin@local and password admin

Adding Datasources

Once logged in, you will need to add vCenter as a Datasource. As you will see, there are different datasources you can add, like NSX Manager, or physical switches like Dell, Arista, Cisco, and more. I will cover this in another post later on. For now, let’s just add vCenter.
Step 6. Navigate to the settings icon on the top right corner.
Step 7. Click Add new source. Select vCenter Server, and enter the IP/FQDN and username / password. Make sure you also check the box to Enable NetFlow and select the appropriate VDS where your application VMs reside. Click Finish.
That’s it! Now you just need to wait a couple of hours for the data to collect. Once you check back, you should be able to click Plan Security on the left pane to see your traffic flows and traffic distribution. Here is a sample screenshot, the chart is interactive and allows you to hover over the flows and see which applications are talking over which ports as well as the endpoint IPs.
Again, I only wanted to focus on a quick introduction on this tool as well as the installation process. I will write more posts on how to use the tool as well as deep dive the main use cases. Stay tuned!

Posted by:

Sean Whitney

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