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how to configure network bonding (link aggregation) on two ethernet ports?

Posted on 2010-11-11
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
Hello,

I have a Dell PowerEdge 2950 server with Windows 2008 server installed on it.
There are quite some services running on it (Exchange, file server, print services, DHCP, Domain Controller, roaming profiles...) and the network performance of the server is very poor. The server is connected to a 3COM managed gigabit switch by means of one CAT5e cable. I guess the traffic towards and from the server is just too much and I was told bundling two ethernet ports (active-active mode) would increase redundancy and network performance, but I've never done this before. How exactly can I configure this?

The NIC is a Broadcom NetExtreme. The switch is a 3Com Baseline 2848-SFP Plus.

Would SFP be an alternative solution to increase the network bandwith? This feature is available on the switch, but there is no SFP card installed on the server.
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Question by:digital1stein
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by:MarkMichael
MarkMichael earned 25 total points
ID: 34116600
You can use network bonding software for this. Check your Dell CD it may have the utility to do this.
I sometimes use the broadcom software to bond 2 NICs to create a Team.

http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethernet_nic/management_applications.php
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by:digital1stein
ID: 34116640
There is only one NIC installed. Is network bonding possible between two ports on one single NIC?
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jakethecatuk earned 75 total points
ID: 34116711
running exchange, file, print and roaming profiles off one server!  you will have more than network problems with that server

have you checked perfmon to make sure your disks, processor and memory aren't showing signs of stress (disks queues are good to check).

when you say you've only one NIC - is it a dual port NIC?  if it is then the Broadcom should allow you to bond for link agregation.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
PowerEdgeTech earned 25 total points
ID: 34116878
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by:George Khairallah
ID: 34117069
I'm not too sure about the details. but, I noticed that nobody mentioned anything about the configuration of your switch, and though I can't tell you exactly what is needed to do this, as there are many types of link aggregation.  (LACP, and port trunking), you need to make sure to choose the correct one with BACS for your purposes, in order for your aggregation to work well. I have 3Com switches too, and 2950s, and doing NIC teaming with VMware was a pain to get it right, and I was working with our network admin to get it to work correctly.

So just something to consider, aside from just the NIC itself, especially, if you're applying this change on a production server holding so many roles.

As a side note, I would strongly suggest separating these roles into different servers, because, as jakethtecatuk mentioned, you may have many more variables than just your network capacity that may be causing your performance problems. Run perfmon on your disks (I'm thinking you may be running into disk IOPS limits possibly)
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by:digital1stein
ID: 34140233
Wouldn't SFP be something worth considering?
What exactly is SFP? Is it fibre? 10Gbit? Is it faster than link aggregation?

My 3COM switch has 4 SFP-ports. Assuming I would like to connect my switch over SFP, what other devices (cards, cables) would I need to connect it to my server?
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Expert Comment

by:jakethecatuk
ID: 34140402
You would have to buy a pair of fibre nics for your server to start with.  obviously install them with the correct drivers etc.  you will then look at the network performance and wonder why it's still slow.

however, to re-iterate my comments earlier, '...running exchange, file, print and roaming profiles off one server!  you will have more than network problems with that server...'.

You can only stuff out of your network as fast as your slowest component.  With Exchange, file, print, and roaming profiles running on one server - your disk subsystem will be thrashing away and you will have a huge bottleneck.

Check your disk queues first with perfmon - it costs nothing and will tell you what's going on.

What sort of RAID controller do you have and what RAID config are you running.
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by:digital1stein
ID: 34140539
it's a Dell MD-3000 Disk Storage Array, configured in RAID 5.
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Author Comment

by:digital1stein
ID: 34140613
forgot to say: the server is connected to the disk array by SAS cabling
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by:jakethecatuk
ID: 34140813
OK - the disk array looks ok.  You say it's RAID5 - how many disks are you using in the MD3000?

What is perfmon telling you about the overall performance of the server.
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Author Comment

by:digital1stein
ID: 34146364
Hi Jakethecatuk,

I added some screenshots of the MD3000 config and disk performance.
perfmon.jpg
perfmon-discs.jpg
diskarray-config.jpg
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