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What is VMware HCX

VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX) is an all-in-one workload mobility tool. It enables migrations and cloud onboarding without the need to retrofit the source infrastructure by building an abstraction layer between on-premises data centers and the cloud. VMware HCX is an application mobility platform that is designed for simplifying application migration, workload rebalancing, and business continuity across data centers and clouds.

VMware HCX use cases:

  • Application migration – You can schedule and migrate thousands of vSphere virtual machines within and across data centers without requiring a reboot.
  • Change platforms or upgrade vSphere versions – With HCX, you can migrate workloads from vSphere and from non-vSphere (KVM and Hyper-V) environments within and across data centers or clouds to current vSphere versions without requiring an upgrade.
  • Workload rebalancing – HCX provides a multi-cloud mobility platform across cloud regions and cloud providers to allow customers to move applications and workloads at any time to meet scale, cost management, compliance, and vendor neutrality goals.
  • Business continuity and protection – Using HCX capabilities, administrators can protect workloads by replicating them to other HCX sites. Workload migration is available on-demand, or it can be scheduled for business or for maintenance planning.

HCX Architecture

VMware HCX comprises a virtual management component at both the source and destination sites, and up to five types of VMware HCX Interconnect service appliances depending on the HCX license. VMware HCX services are configured and activated at the source site, and then deployed as virtual appliances at the source site, with a peer appliance at the destination site.

HCX Connector and HCX Cloud Installations

In the HCX site-to-site architecture, there is notion of an HCX source and an HCX destination environment. Depends on the environment, there is a specific HCX installer: HCX Connector or HCX Cloud. HCX Connector is always deployed as the source. HCX Cloud is typically deployed as the destination, but it can be used as the source in cloud-to-cloud deployments. In HCX-enabled public clouds, the cloud provider deploys HCX Cloud. The public cloud tenant deploys HCX Connector on-premises. The source and destination sites are paired together for HCX operations.

In both the source and the destination environments, HCX is deployed to the management zone, next to each site’s vCenter Server, which provides a single plane (HCX Manager) for administering VMware HCX. This HCX Manager provides a framework for deploying HCX service virtual machines across both the source and destination sites. VMware HCX administrators are authenticated, and each task authorized through the existing vSphere SSO identity sources. VMware HCX mobility, extension, protection actions can be initiated from the HCX User Interface or from within the vCenter Server Navigator screen’s context menus.

Note: – The source and destination sites are paired together for HCX operations. An HCX Connector cannot be paired with another HCX Connector.

HCX-IX Interconnect

The HCX-IX service appliance provides replication and vMotion-based migration capabilities over the Internet and private lines to the destination site whereas providing strong encryption, traffic engineering, and virtual machine mobility.

The HCX-IX appliance includes deployment of the Mobility Agent service that appears as a host object in the vCenter server. Mobility Agent is the mechanism that HCX uses to perform vMotion, Cold, and Replication Assisted vMotion (RAV) migrations to a destination site.

HCX WAN Optimization

The VMware HCX WAN Optimization service improves performance characteristics of the private lines or Internet paths by applying WAN optimization techniques like the data de-duplication and line conditioning. It makes performance closer to a LAN environment. It accelerates on-boarding to the destination site using Internet connections, without waiting for Direct Connect/MPLS circuits.

HCX Network Extension

The HCX Network Extension service provides layer 2 connectivity between sites. HCX Network Extension provides the ability to keep the same IP and MAC addresses during virtual machine migrations. When the Network Extension service is enabled on a Service Mesh, a pair of virtual appliances will be deployed: one in the source and one in the destination site.

HCX Sentinel Gateway and Data Receiver

Using VMware HCX OS Assisted Migration (OSAM), you can migrate guest (non-vSphere) virtual machines from on-premises data centers to the cloud. The OSAM service has several components: the HCX Sentinel software that is installed on each virtual machine to be migrated, a Sentinel Gateway (SGW) appliance for connecting and forwarding guest workloads in the source environment, and a Sentinel Data Receiver (SDR) in the destination environment.

The HCX Sentinel Data Receiver (SDR) appliance works with the HCX Sentinel Gateway appliance to receive, manage, and monitor data replication operations at the destination environment.

For more information on HCX installation and configuration please refer this VMware Documentation

HCX Licensing

HCX is available with an Advanced and an Enterprise license.

  • HCX Advanced delivers basic connectivity and mobility services to enable hybrid interconnect and migration services.
  • HCX Enterprise offers add-on functionality for scalability and performance when transforming large data centers or moving large quantities of virtual machines to cloud infrastructures.

For more information on HCX licensing please refer this VMware Documentation

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One response to “What is VMware HCX”

  1. Hi ! I have a question related to the HCX migration

    I have a site under ESXi 6.5 and I would like to create a new site for disaster recovery purposes and take this opportunity to run VMware Cloud Foundation.

    I know that the migration is mandatory but can I continue to using the first site under ESXi 6.5 considered legacy afterwards ?

    I don’t want to lose it.

    The final plan is to build a private cloud with two sites :

    the legacy site under ESXi 6.5
    the new site under VMware Cloud Foundation

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Welcome to my blog! I’m Vysakh Nair, a Cloud Architect at Presight, a G42 company. With over 17 years in IT infrastructure, I have honed my skills in Azure, AWS, and VMware technologies. My expertise extends to both Microsoft and Linux environments, and I thrive on tackling challenges in Storage and Networking technologies. Join me as I share insights and experiences from my journey in the world of cloud architecture and IT infrastructure. Continue Reading