Tag Archives: load balancer

NSX Troubleshooting Scenario 10 – Solution

Welcome to the tenth installment of a new series of NSX troubleshooting scenarios. Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on the first half of the scenario. 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 attempting to configure an ESG load balancer for both TCP and UDP port 514 traffic. Below is the high-level topology:


One of the first things to keep in mind when troubleshooting the NSX load balancer is the mode in which it’s operating. In this case, we know the customer is using a one-armed load balancer. The tell-tale sign is that the ESG sits in the same VLAN as the pool members with a single interface. Also, the pool members do not have the ESG configured as their default gateway.

We also know based on the screenshots in the first half that the load balancer is not operating in ‘Transparent’ mode – so traffic to the pool members should appear as though it’s coming from the load balancer virtual IP, not from the actual syslog clients. The packet capture the customer did proves that this is actually not the case.

That said, how exactly does an NSX one-armed load balancer work?

As traffic comes in on one of the interfaces and ports configured as a ‘virtual server’, the load balancer will simply forward the traffic to one of the pool members based on the load balancing algorithm configured. In our case, it’s a simple ‘round robin’ rotation of the pool members per session/socket. But forwarding would imply that the syslog servers would see traffic coming from the originating source IP of the syslog client. This would cause a fundamental problem with asymmetry when the pool member needs to reply. When it does, the traffic would bypass the ESG and be sent directly back to the client. This would be fine with UDP, which is connection-less, but what about TCP?

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NSX Troubleshooting Scenario 10

Welcome to the tenth installment of my NSX troubleshooting series – a milestone number for the one-year anniversary of vswitchzero.com. I wasn’t sure how many of these I’d write, but I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback so if I can keep thinking of scenarios, I’ll keep going!

What I hope to do in these posts is share some of the common issues I run across from day to day. Each scenario will be a two-part post. The first will be an outline of the symptoms and problem statement along with bits of information from the environment. The second will be the solution, including the troubleshooting and investigation I did to get there.

I’ll try to include some questions as well for educational purposes in each post.

The Scenario

As always, we’ll start with a brief problem statement:

“I’m using an ESG load balancer to send syslog traffic to a pool of two Linux servers. I can only seem to get UDP syslog traffic to arrive at the pool members. TCP based syslog traffic doesn’t work. I’m using a one-armed load balancer. If I do a packet capture, all I see is the UDP traffic but it’s not coming from the load balancer”

Using the NSX load balancer services for syslog purposes is not at all uncommon. We see this frequently with products like Splunk as well as others. Since syslog traffic can be very heavy, this is a good use case.

When it comes to troubleshooting NSX load balancer issues, triple checking the configuration is key. In speaking with the customer, this is his desired outcome:

  • One-armed load balancer in VLAN 15.
  • No routing done by the edge. Default gateway configuration only and a single interface for simplicity.
  • Transparency is not required – the source IP can be the load balancer as the required source information is in the syslog data transmitted.
  • A mix of both TCP and UDP port 514 traffic is to be load balanced.

Here is a basic, high-level topology provided by the customer:


The one armed load balancer called esg-lb1 is sitting in VLAN 15. It’s default gateway is the SVI interface of the physical switch ( There is only one hop between the ESXi hosts – the syslog clients – and the ESG in VLAN 15. Because this is a one-armed topology, the syslog-a1 and syslog-a2 servers are using the same switch SVI as their default gateway.

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