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iSCSI Port Binding - Is it required?

Posted on 2013-07-01
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Last Modified: 2013-07-03
Hi All,

I have a question regarding iSCSI port binding - regarding whether you have 2 NICS or more, is this required? What is the advantage/disadvantage of having iSCSI port binding?

Cheers
Goraek
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Question by:goraek
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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by:Subhashish Laha
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by:coolsport00
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You ask specifically, is Port Binding required? The answer is no..it is not. Is it recommended? Yes..highly. I won't reiterate why as both @hanccocka and @subhashishlaha shared as to why (main reason is redundancy and load balancing of iSCSI traffic).

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:goraek
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Thanks for that.
My question was regardless if I have 2 NICs or more, would I need iSCSI port binding?
Ok lets say I have 2 x 10Gbe, would I need iSCSI port binding?
From my understanding, port binding only required if you need multipathing.
Correct me if IM wrong.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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and resilience,

what happens if a single nic fails, ALL your VMs would also fail!

you should always double up your network interfaces!  (at least a minimum  of two)

otherwise you will have a failure.
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by:coolsport00
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Again..."required"?...no; but as mentioned, you should do binding for redundancy (HA) of your iSCSI ports to prevent connection disruption to your VMs.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:goraek
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Ok, my question was about port binding.

I dont want to know if my NIC or VM fail.

Let me put this in an example:

I have 2 pNICS, teamed the NICs together on the pSwitch and vSwitch using static LACP. I have done this but have not enabled iSCSI port binding - what is the use of me having this enabled? Will it only dedicated to iSCSI traffic only? Will it give me more performance?

I'm asking because I want to know and need to have a good understanding.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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okay, you don't want to know about VM or NIC failure.

So enable iSCSI Port Binding as per my EE Article, and check for yourself later, you will see multiple paths to the LUNs, and iSCSI traffic flowing through both nics.

teaming with iSCSI is not supported, the recommended solution for "teaming" with iSCSI is to enable a multipath solution. iSCSI binding will allow the iSCSI traffic to take of advantage of both nics. (iSCSI traffic will use both nics, when bound to the correct nics).

This will increase performance.
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by:goraek
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Ok, so what you're saying that if I have 2 NICs, enabling iSCSI port binding will increase performance, is this correct?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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yes, that is correct, it will also be recommended by your SAN vendor also!
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by:goraek
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Ok cool thats nice to know.
Also I've gone through your article, and the article you only got 2 NICs.
Question is, if youuse the 2 pNICs to do multipathing, wouldnt this decrease performance?
I still need to understand why vmnic2 active and vmnic3 unused on one vswitch and vmnic3 active and vmnic2 unused on another vswitch can still perform iscsi port binding, I would have thought you would need 4 pNICs to perform this?

Can you please confirm and briefly explain?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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it's because they are configured for failover, so if one nic fails, the other failsover, and iSCSI traffic still continues.

you can use more than two nics, if you prefer, but it takes alot of iSCSI traffic to saturate two nics.
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by:goraek
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Ok cool. So even with 2 pNICs you can still do multipathing? And the unused nic is for this purpose? So basically the unused nic doesnt get used and used for port binding, is this correct? As you mentioned it takes alot of iSCSI traffic to saturate the NICs, so with 1 NIC active, it shouldnt decrease in performance?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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yes, with twio physical nics you can do multipath.

both physical nics will be used if configured for multipath.

performance and redundancy are the advantages of multipath. e.g. two different pathways to reach the LUN and your VM.
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by:goraek
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Ok, what if we use LACP with 2 pNICS active on the vswitch as opposed to multipathing? If we sacrifice mulitpathing for LACP load balancing, would this be recommended? Also from a performance point of view.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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teaming by way of trunking with LACP for iSCSI is not supported.

the only load balance for iSCSI is to multipath.

do you only have two nics in this server, for your VMs, Management Network and iSCSI?
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by:goraek
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Sorry I meant on the SAN. We have a P4000 series SAN with dual 10Gbe cards. We've enabled LACP on the SAN, and static LACP at the vswitch level with IP hash. SO basically we left the iSCSI port binding disabled and running 2 active NICS with trunking - is this ok or should we change this to multipath (we want this as best practice as possible).
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multipath is recommended and best practice.
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by:goraek
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Ok one more, because we've already used 2 active NICs to increase bandwidth, changing this to multipath, would this reduce performance? Obviously we like speed, but I just need to confirm this.
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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you current configuration is not supported, or working correctly!

iSCSI is not supposed to be teamed.

Multipath is the only supported method or redundancy and performance enhancement.

please see my EE Article

HOW TO: Add an iSCSI Software Adaptor and Create an iSCSI Multipath Network in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESXi 5.0

also enable Jumbo FRames if not already enabled

HOW TO: Enable Jumbo Frames on a VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi 5.0) host server using the VMware vSphere Client
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by:goraek
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Thanks for that, you have posted the links and I've gone through.
I just need more detail on your post as I'm still trying to learn this myself.
If the environment supports Jumbo frames, is it worth while enabling this? And what would this have any affect to the SAN environment, more speed? And is it best practice to have this enabled?

Also, regarding performance testing, how would you measure this?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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Yes, better performance, recommended by SAN Vendor.

Measure your IOPS!
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by:goraek
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Ok thanks.
what performance tool would you use to test the iops? Or how would you test?
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
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We are now starting to go off topic.

I believe your question has been answered. If the answers have been helpful please assign points. Please ask a new question and myself or other Experts will be glad to assist.
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by:goraek
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Great info
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