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Clarification in Unicast or Multicast usage in VMware environment ?

Posted on 2014-01-23
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Last Modified: 2014-02-05
Folks, can anyone here please share the best case scenario of using Unicast and Multicast on Windows NLB implementation on VMware ESXi server ?

As far as I understand, the Unicast NLB is supposed to be used by web server who needs to be on both nodes to be Active / Active, and it doesn’t matter when the reply comes from the different server since the content is the same and no user session is persisted.

Unicast
To be used with Non Persistent Windows Terminal Server, when the user connect to the Cluster Virtual IP, it will then randomly selects the available node or Server A in this case, once they disconnect and then reconnect again, different server might serve them (Server B).

Multicast or IGMP Multicast
To be used with persistent connection server while still maintaining High Availability, for example Exchange Server 2007 Client Access Server. Because when the user connects to the CAS server through Active Sync protocol, in this case Server A, it needs to maintain the session and the connection until the user is logged off of the session is closed gracefully, the user will always be connected to the Server A no matter what. In the case of Server A outage, the other server in the node in this case Server B can quickly take over the service until it is drain-stopped and Server A back to the operational state.

Is that analogy correct or needs some clarification?
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9 Comments
 
LVL 1

Assisted Solution

by:Jose Ramirez
Jose Ramirez earned 500 total points
ID: 39805604
Hi!

VMware's KB has an excellent article that describes Multicast and Unicast operations modes of Microsoft NLB, including sample configurations of both modes:

http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1006580
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LVL 8

Author Comment

by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 39805648
ok, so what happens in this case when I configure the Unicast NLB Terminal Server with single vNIC Multicast IGMP NLB cluster ?

will that still be working without having to put additional steps as per this article: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1556
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LVL 123
ID: 39805806
Multicast has alwatys been recommended for VMware vSphere.
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LVL 8

Author Comment

by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 39806352
Is that for all of the highly available server type ?
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LVL 123

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1500 total points
ID: 39806383
Correct, if you want to use Microsoft NLB, Multicast has always been recommended.
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LVL 8

Author Comment

by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 39806411
Andrew,

I just found out that the existing terminal server in my company is set with 2x vNIC runs as Unicast NLB, shall I remove one of the vNIC and configure it as my Exchange Server Hub Transport server IGMP multicast or just normal multicast ?
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LVL 123

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1500 total points
ID: 39806456
I would recommend Multicast, but also be prepared to alter switch configuration, and add static arp entries to get NLB working, which can be tricky!
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LVL 8

Author Comment

by:Senior IT System Engineer
ID: 39806479
Do you mean the Cisco switch where the ESXi host uplinks connect ?
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LVL 123

Accepted Solution

by:
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1500 total points
ID: 39806491
That's correct, AND ALL other switches, and up links that connect to your Cisco switches!
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