Securely connect an Advanced (private) CloudStack network by using a VLAN aware switch and a basic VPN device

18 November 2012 — 5 Comments

I’ve been working a lot with CloudStack Advanced networking and find it very flexible. Recently, I had another opportunity to test its flexibility when a customer called: “We want VM’s in your CloudStack cloud, but these VM’s are only allowed be reachable from our office, and not from the public internet”. Firewalling? No, they required us to use their VPN solution.

Is CloudStack flexible enough for this to work? Yes, it is. In this blog I’ll tell you how we did it. And it doesn’t even matter what VPN device you use. This will work regardless of brand and features, as lang as it supports a public ip-address to connect over the internet to another VPN device, and has a private network behind it. All VPN devices I know of support these basic features.

VPN (Virtual Private Networking)
The client’s office is connected to the internet and has a VPN device. We received another device as well to host in our data center and the two talk to each other over the public internet in a secure way. Probably speaking IPsec or similar but that is beyond the scope of this blog.

The VPN device in the data center has a public ip-address on its WAN port but also has some ports for the internal network. We configured it to use the same network CIDR as we did in the CloudStack network we created for this customer. Let’s use 10.10.16.0/24 as an example in this blog. And now the problem: this cloud network is a tagged network and the VPN device we received is not VLAN-capable.

VLANs in the Cloud
CloudStack Advanded networking relies on VLANs. Every VLAN has its own unique ID. Switches use this VLAN ID to keep the VLAN networks apart and make sure they’re isolated from each other. Most switches support VLANs as well, and that’s were we’ll find the solution to this problem.

Configuring the switch

We connected the VPN device to our switch and set its port to UNTAGGED for the VLAN ID the CloudStack network uses. In other words, devices connected to this port now do not need to know about the VLAN. The switch will add it as traffic flows. This means the VPN device will use an ip-address in the 10.10.16.0/24 range and is able to communicate with the VM’s in the same network. The CloudStack compute nodes have their switch ports set to TAGGED and the switch makes communication between them possible.

Overview of ip-addresses:

  • 10.10.16.1 – the internal VPN device ip-address in the data center
  • 10.10.16.11 – the first VM’s ip-address
  • 10.10.16.12 – the second VM’s ip-address

The VM’s have their default gateway set to the VPN device’s 10.10.16.1 address. Also, the office needs to be configured in a way it knows the 10.10.16.0/24 network is handled by the VPN device located there. Users in the office will now be able to access the VM’s on the 10.10.16.0/24 network.

Conclusion
While the VM’s are hosted on our CloudStack cloud on the internet, they do not have public ip-addresses and thus are not reachable. The only public ip-address for this customer is the one configured on the VPN device in the data center. This provides the same level of security as you’d have with physical servers but adds the power of a cloud solution.

Thanks to the flexibility of the CloudStack Advanced Networking this cloud be done!

5 responses to Securely connect an Advanced (private) CloudStack network by using a VLAN aware switch and a basic VPN device

  1. 

    Please Remi, do CloudStack have included VLAN capabilities or VLANs are created on an VLAN capable phisichal switch and then assigned to a virtual(guest) network created in the CloudStack

    • 

      In other words could you explain a little working with VLANs in CloudStack?
      Thank you very much.

      • 

        CloudStack is fully comptable with how vlans work in modern switches. You can create a network in CloudStack, and assign a vlan-id to it. You then need to configure your switch to support this vlan-id. All traffic in vlans is isolated from other vlans, so this is a secure way to setup an environment. For more technical info, see this blog post.

  2. 

    Boommm….this is what i call superb!

    Tnx for the great share mate…

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