IBM Blade Center w/ Vmware ESX server 2.x Networking

Posted on 2007-11-17
Last Modified: 2008-02-01
My question is simple but could turn out to create a complicated answer. An IBM BladeCenter is installed with Vmware ESX server and running two blades with windows server 2003 servers on each Blade.

My question is: In reference to the 4port gigabit controllers that the Blade Center uses to connect to the rest of the network, how does Vmware, the Windows servers, and the Blade Center handle the architecture. In other words, how does it all connect and work with each other?

Thanks in advance,
Question by:AmericanBridge
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Expert Comment

ID: 20306158

VMWare is the interface between the hardware and the OS.  VMWare will take your physical hardware - cpu, menory, disk, etc. and allow you to create them as virtual entities to be used (and shared) by your virtual servers.  This allows you to have 5, 10 or 20 virtual servers running on a single blade.  The number of virtual servers that can run on a single blade will depend on the blades hardware specs.  The beefier the better.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 20306993
VMware doesn't really know about the ethernet modules, they are just ethernet switches, 4 external ports plus 1 internal port to each blade server.

The bladecenter knows about the switches in an electrical sense in as much as its backplane connects the servers ethernet ports to the switches and it provides the equivalent of serial port access to control their settings. Yours may be Cisco or Nortel, both make 4 port ones.

Author Comment

ID: 20308761
Well that definitely brings some clarity to the topic.

My biggest concern is where to place the physical ports from the BC. I wasn't the original installer of this device so I'm not sure how it was originally setup. I am not sure whether or not to place the physical ports within the management VLAN or the server VLAN. The management VLAN contains all other networking devices within the network. The server VLAN, of course, matches the IP of the servers placed on the Blade Center, as well as all the other servers in the farm.

Thanks again.
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LVL 55

Accepted Solution

andyalder earned 500 total points
ID: 20311255
Since blades are servers you should put the ports in the server VLAN. There is a seperate ethernet port on the management module that should be on the management VLAN.

Author Comment

ID: 20324835
This weekend I am going to try both. I'll post how the test goes.

Author Comment

ID: 20383487

I tested a new config and got this in the end:

Blade Center MGMT modules are connected to the MGMT vlan
Blade Center 4 port ethernet are connected to the SERVER vlan
each individual blades need a def route and new subnet mask

And voila, that's all it needs. The Blades and Vmware in a sense route their own traffic and the 4 ports are essentailly hubs.

Hope this info will be helpful to anyone who needs it.

***Cleanup Agent or Admin, please close this post but do not delete.
LVL 55

Expert Comment

ID: 20383561
I thought I had answered it? Was there something in my posts you didn't understand? The 4 external ports are part of the switch, it's not a hub.

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