Enabling NIC Teaming while servers in production - OK?

Posted on 2013-10-30
Last Modified: 2013-10-31

I recently discovered one of my clients had their main ESXi host plugged into a 10/100 switch.  I moved it to a gig switch and things are happy happy now. (ESXi 5.1)

I have 3 additional NICS on the server I'd like to enable NIC teaming with.  I have cabled the other 3 nics and plan on using the default NIC Teaming settings:

Load balancing: checked - route based on originating virtual port ID
Network fail over detection: not checked
Notify switches: checked - Yes
Fallback: checked - Yes
Override vswitch failover order: checked.

Move the 3 unused adapters into the active adapters group and apply.

My question is this:  Can this be done w/o having to shutdown guests?  It is VERY difficult to schedule downtime and if I can do this during business hours, that would be ideal.

I've read that I have to reboot the individual VM's to get them to 'load balance' themselves. It will be much easier to schedule individual reboots rather than their entire network.

Only 1 vSwitch, flat network (no vlans).

Question by:GDavis193
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LVL 120
ID: 39613502
I would not recommend to complete any network operations during production.

You will find making network changes will disrupt networking for a few seconds, and a few pings will be dropped.

and if you get it wrong, networking will be completely disrupted.

So best to schedule for Out of Core Hours.

Expert Comment

ID: 39613589
Just a quick input around the VMware statement.

"Uplinks added to an existing NIC Team will be active but un-usable until added to the LACP group on the physical switch"

I think removing an uplink causes disruptions but not the other way. Having said that "Please perform this out of hours"

I will monitor this closely, interesting to find out if any disruptions occur from adding.

Expert Comment

ID: 39613598
Also will need to change the load balancing from the current one to IP Hash if using LACP, this will guarantee the uplinks are evenly utilized for load balancing.

Originating port ID and MAC hash just assigns vNIC's arbitrarily. Else use physical NIC load as this looks at the load per NIC. In fact I feel this new policy is much better as it does not stipulate a need for LACP.
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LVL 120
ID: 39613601
If you practice ITIL or Change Management, Change Control in your organization, no changes to a server should be conducted in Core Hours!

That would be our recommendations.

Expert Comment

ID: 39613614
Of course possibly service impacting changes are best planned out-of-hours as I concurred in my response above.

But coming from a purely technical "What will happen" I think it is best to be able to ascertain how such a change is expected to behave, hence my input.

Author Comment

ID: 39614672
I appreciate the response but my question was not asked to determine when the best time to conduct this change but whether or not anyone has experience with this and can let me know if it can/has been done during production hours?  

Like increasing the size of a disk volume during production hours... it's best to schedule this after hours but there are times when the needs to be done asap.  It's a safe enough operation to be done anytime.

Again, not looking at best time to do this (everything should be done after hours, we all know this) but whether or not anyone has performed this on a live system.  

Thank you.
LVL 120
ID: 39614699
As I my first post...when we have made these changes.... and it also depends how active and saturated your network links are

"You will find making network changes will disrupt networking for a few seconds, and a few pings will be dropped." Whilst routing tables converge.

If you get the configuration completely wrong, you will experience a total outage..

If you have Outlook Clients, they will get disconnected.

Author Comment

ID: 39614734
You did not make it clear you've personally made those changes - you made what appeared (to me) to be a generic statement of:

"You will find making network changes will disrupt networking for a few seconds..."

"If you get the configuration completely wrong, you will experience a total outage.."

So to clarify,  are the basic settings outlined in my initial post are safe to do with knowledge of the brief network outage?  My main concern is that for some odd non-documented reason my management IP would be hosed or something...

This WILL be done at the end of the business day with only 3-4 users in the office.

Thanks in advance for the clarification.

Expert Comment

ID: 39614892
If referring to these settings:

Load balancing: checked - route based on originating virtual port ID [It will load balance but VM's will be assigned to a NIC when they start, it does not take into consideration physical NIC load, in my opinion route based on physical NIC load is best.]

Network fail over detection: not checked

Notify switches: checked - Yes [OK, unless when running MS NLB in Unicast]

Fallback: checked - Yes [OK, but a problem if flapping occurs]

Override vswitch failover order: checked.

In my opinion the setting is OK
LVL 120

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 500 total points
ID: 39614907
We've made these changes on behalf of clients, when we have advised them accordingly.

Expect a few seconds loss of pings, and Outlook Clients to disconnect, and Terminal Server connects or PCoIP clients to disconnect.

Depends on your physical network switches, and current activity on the switches.

Looks okay, as per disclaimer above.

Author Comment

ID: 39614949

Yes, I am ok with the brief network outage.

Thank you!

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39614957
The guy is a little rough around the edges but I received the answer i was looking for.

A+ for technical assistance, C (wont be grading this) for the perceived forum 'attitude' :)
LVL 120
ID: 39615013
Apologies if I've offended, it was not intentional.

Good Luck with your network changes.

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