I had been hearing a lot of cool things about VMware's Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX) but never tried the solution myself nor had a good understanding of what it actually provided. With the recently announced Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX) on VMware Cloud on AWS (VMWonAWS) offering being available, I thought this was a great way to get hands on with HCX and take advantage of my VMWonAWS infrastructure. Having only spent a couple of days with the solution, I can see why customers are excited for HCX and the new offering on VMWonAWS makes it super easy to consume. I also recently learned that HCX is now free for all VMWonAWS customers and you can easily live migrated your VMs to/from your onPrem environment!
There are a number of impressive capabilities that HCX offers, but two that really stood out to me which I thought was quite unique and interesting compared to other VM-based "migration" options. The first is that HCX can perform live VM migrations (vMotion) or replicated migrations (vSphere Replication) which includes scheduled switch over across different versions of vSphere (vSphere 5.x to/from vSphere 6.x). This is great for customers who may not be able to upgrade their underlying vSphere environment to 6.0 or later and take advantage of things like Cross vCenter vMotion feature which only supports VM migration between vSphere 6.0u3 to/from 6.x.
The second capability is that HCX can abstract and protect the underlying ESXi hosts by not requiring direct connectivity between the source and destination ESXi hosts. Traditionally, for vMotion and vSphere Replication traffic, you either had to stretch the VLAN or ensure the VMkernel interface was routable so that it can communicate with the destination ESXi hosts for data transfers. This was not always possible and adds additional networking requirements which can be challenging to implement depending on how your network infrastructure is configured. The way HCX solves this problem is by using a special HCX Cloud Gateway which securely proxy vMotion and vSphere Replication traffic from the on-premises environment out to the respective HCX Cloud Gateway Peer which then gets transfered to destination vSphere environment. Below is a diagram to help illustrate this:
Note: HCX also supports WAN optimization (compression and de-duplication) out of the box, which the diagram includes as that is what I had deployed in my env. This is an optional virtual appliance that can be deployed at each location ensuring efficient data transfer between the source and destination vSphere environments.
While going through and getting HCX configured on both my VMWonAWS and onPrem environment, I had ran into a few minor gotchas and to help others avoid some of the issues I had ran into, I figure I would outline the process and include some additional tips that can be help.