NSX Troubleshooting Scenario 9 – Solution

Welcome to the ninth installment of a new series of NSX troubleshooting scenarios. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on the first half of scenario nine. Today I’ll be performing some troubleshooting and will show how I came to the solution.

Please see the first half for more detail on the problem symptoms and some scoping.

Getting Started

As we saw in the first half, our fictional administrator was unable to install the NSX VIBs on the cluster called compute-a:


We also saw that there were two different NSX licences added to vCenter. One called ‘Endpoint’ and the other ‘Enterprise’.


You can see that the ‘Usage’ for both licenses is currently “0 CPUs”, but that’s because it hasn’t been installed on any ESXi hosts yet to consume any. What’s most telling, however, is the small little grey exclamation mark on the license icon. If I hover over this, I get a message stating:

“The license is not assigned. To comply with the EULA, assign the license to at least one asset.”

The reason this has happened is because the customer did only the first of two steps in the licensing process. After adding the license to vCenter, it must be assigned to an asset.


This is the part that throws people off – quite often they don’t know where to find NSX to apply the license. From a vSphere perspective, NSX is considered a ‘Solution’. For more information on the process, you can see page 49 of the NSX Install Guide.

The ‘Solutions’ view shows us that NSX is assigned to the default ‘Endpoint’ license, not the ‘Enterprise’ license added by the customer. This can easily be changed by clicking the ‘Assign License’ button:


And now NSX is assigned the ‘Enterprise’ license that unlocks all available features and functionality that the product has to offer.


In the first half, I posed a few questions for anyone interested in digging a bit more into NSX licensing. Below are some answers as well as links to find out more:

Q. What are the various license types offered by VMware for NSX for vSphere?
A. NSX has four paid license types – Standard, Advanced and Enterprise. Each allows the use of a different set features in the product. Enterprise licensing is the full version that includes all features of NSX. You can find a feature comparison on the NSX datasheet on page 4. VMware KB 2145269 also has more information.

Q. What is the difference between Endpoint and Enterprise licensing? What features can be used in each?
A. You’ll notice that I didn’t include the ‘Endpoint’ license in the answer to the previous question, because it’s not a paid license type. Rather, it’s a free license intended to be used in conjunction with 3rd party security solutions. The ‘Guest Introspection’ functionality of NSX is used by anti-virus vendors for agentless solutions. In the past, these vendors would use vShield Endpoint in a similar manner, but with vCNS going end-of-life after the 5.5.4 release, a similar free version of NSX was provided for this purpose. That said, the default ‘Endpoint’ licensing for NSX allows only the use of Guest Introspection – nothing else. As we saw in this scenario, the NSX VIBs can’t even be installed onto the clusters. On the flip side, the NSX ‘Enterprise’ license enables all features that the product offers.

Q. What are the differences between CPU and VM licensing models?
A. NSX license capacity can be measured in either CPUs or VMs. This calculation is based on the number of physical CPU sockets of all hosts in NSX prepared clusters. The VM count is the total number of all powered on VMs in NSX prepared clusters. This doesn’t include any ‘system VMs’ such as NSX edge appliances, controllers etc. You can find more information on the actual NSX license usage on the summary page of your NSX manager:


Q. What version of NSX did VMware introduce the new ‘Endpoint Only’ license?
A. The Endpoint license option was introduced in NSX 6.2.4 after the vCNS (vShield) 5.5.x product went end-of-life.

Q. What is the correct process to use when licensing NSX?
A. Have a look at page 45 of the NSX Installation guide for the proper process.

Q. What may this fictional customer have done wrong or missed in this process?
A. As mentioned earlier, our fictional administrator added the license, but failed to apply it to the NSX solution. Because of this, the default ‘Endpoint’ license was utilized, which does not support host preparation.

Reader Comments

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment. @vVadster, @alagoutte and @nmorgowicz were right on:


Quite often, problems can be a lot more straight forward than you think. Simple things can be missed and it’s never a waste of time to double check the documentation and re-trace your steps. I hope this was useful. Please keep the troubleshooting scenario suggestions coming!

Please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@vswitchzero)


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