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NIC-Teaming with HP ProCurve switches

Posted on 2013-06-03
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Last Modified: 2013-06-06
What is the proper way to do NIC Teaming on Windows Server 2008 in terms of the switch config?

In other words, on a ProCurve (layer 3) switch, in order to do NIC Teaming do you configure both ports as tagged in the VLAN, or do you enable LACP, or make no changes to the port configs and just make sure spanning tree is enabled on the switch, or...?
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Question by:pzozulka
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Andrej Pirman earned 250 total points
ID: 39217816
VLAN and tagging is only in use if you want switch to distinguish between one VLAN from another within the same physical port of switch. This is not waht you are asking, so don't bother with tagging and VLANs.
STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) is nice feature, which finds its value if more switches are in use, so packet can find the shortest way back and forth. Does no harm if you leave it ON.

What you want to do is NIC Teaming, meaning have 2 NIC adapters in one of the following states:
- active/active, aggregating traffic inbetween each other following some rule from the driver
- load balancing, also distributing traffic obeying a rule
- failover or active/passive, where another NIC jumps in when primary fails

In NO CASE you should NOT just plug dual nics in the same switch, trying to set the same IP to both (ok, OS probably won't let you, but it is worth mentinong), because you would create a loop or black hole for packets to dissapear.
Having 2 or more NIC adapters, they *should* be of the same manufacturer, which also delivers NIC Teaming drivers for your OS. Install those, select, for example, active/active or aggregate policy of traffic distribution, and off you go.

On SWITCH side you do not need to setup anything special, except turning STP/Spanning Tree ON, just in case.

Teamed NICs will both be in the same subnet, and presented to underlying OS as 1 single adapter with 1 TCP/IP settings. Do NOT configure each NIC separately, but rather setup TCP/IP settings on NIC TEAM adapter, which you will get after you install NIC teaming driver.
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by:pzozulka
ID: 39217829
"In NO CASE you should NOT just plug dual nics in the same switch".

Then what do you recommend instead?
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by:pzozulka
ID: 39219407
I thought if you had STP enabled, if you plug dual nics in same switch, everything would be fine, just one of the paths would get disabled.
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by:Jody Lemoine
Jody Lemoine earned 250 total points
ID: 39220029
One of the paths would be blocked, which isn't the same as disabled. Unless the host knows that one path is blocked, this can lead to trouble.

Most NIC teaming drivers, like the Intel and Broadcom ones, will support LACP (802.1ad) on their adapters. This method what I typically use for the following reasons:

1. No spanning-tree issues between switch and host
2. Switch and host negotiate how they will interact with each other
3. Both links are actually used bidirectionally, giving you increased aggregate performance

Configure all of the NICs that you're connecting to the switch as an LACP team and then configure the switch ports on the other end as a single LACP bundle as well.

On Windows, the LACP functionality is built into the driver and not into the OS, so be careful that you're not trying to mix and match NICs. They all have to be running the same driver in order to work in a team.
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by:pzozulka
ID: 39220080
On the Windows side, is there a difference between LACP and NIC Teaming?
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by:Jody Lemoine
Jody Lemoine earned 250 total points
ID: 39220177
There definitely is. NIC teaming is a generic term for any kind of binding of two NICs at the driver level. LACP (802.11ad) is a very specific •kind• of NIC teaming. When you set up your team with the NIC utility, you have to specify that this is the way you're going about it. Once that's done, you can do the same thing on the switch and verify it there.
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