NIC teaming on an established Hyper V 2008 environment

Hello All,

I am currently running Hyper V on a Windows Datacenter 2008 SP2. I got a couple of VMs already in place and in production. Hyper V machines are hosted in SAN volumes.

I have configured an External virtual network in order to have my VMs to have access to my internal and external network.

I realized that I have a 4 port Broadcom NIC and I am just using one of them. I want to take advantage of NIC teaming to have more bandwidth and failover.

What is holding me down with the NIC teaming configuration is that I am not sure how my virtual network will react.

Has someone has any idea if it will be safe to proceed with the NIC teaming?
LuiLui77Asked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You will need to configure your Cisco switch for a Port Channel. (static trunks)
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Cliff GaliherConnect With a Mentor Commented:
It will break your network. I should also point out that you'll get *very* limited redundancy with a 4-port NIC. It'd survive someone tripping over the cable, but 99% of NIC failures take out all ports on a card. For redundancy, you really want multiple NICs, not multiple ports on a single NIC.  You will benefit from increased throughput though.

The best way to do this is to change your virtual network to an internal-only network, thus unbinding it from your NIC. Then team. Then change the network back to external and bind it to the team. This will obviously interrupt network access to the VMs during the process, but it won't actually break the network stack. Attempting to team while hyper-v is bound to the NIC will either fail or will break the stack altgother....possibly in an unrecoverable way. Best not to do it.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
also make sure you configure your physical network switch correctly, as a trunk, port channel or ether channel.
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LuiLui77Author Commented:
Hello All and thank you for your quick responses.

Forgot to tell that I will be using Broadcom BACS4 utility to Team, not sure if changes anything.

Andrew, not sure what you mean about configuring my network switch ports, is it necessary to do this for NIC teaming? I thought that by just connecting the server NIC ports to any free port on the switch will work. If this is not the case, do you have any recommendations/basic instructions on how to do this?
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
No change in advice. And yes, setting up your switch is required. Otherwise the switch will happily forward broadcast packets from one port right back to the server on another port, and you can cause broadcast storms and worse.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You need to configure your physical switch correcly, for what teaming policy you apply.

depends on switch make and model, HP or Cisco, HP supports Static Trunks, LACP Trunks, Cisco supports Etherchannel (port channel).

What teaming are you setting up, Active/Active - Active/Passive?
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LuiLui77Author Commented:
What is the difference between Active/Active - Active/Passive?
I am new on this...
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Active/Active - both network interfaces are sending and receiving at the same time. e.g. 2GBps (bonded).

Active/Passive - only a single network interfaces are sending and receiving, the other does notthing, until the first one fails, and this falls over to the passive one, and it becomes active.

network interfaces can provide resilience and/or load balancing, and/or throughput
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LuiLui77Author Commented:
It would be Active/Active then, I would like to have the combination of better throughput and failover.

I suppose that my switch vendor can give me an idea on my options on how to configure this. I will contact them and check. I will keep you posted.

Thank you Andrew!
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LuiLui77Author Commented:
Just spoke to DELL support. They are telling me that everything will be managed by the NIC software itself (Broadcom Advance Control Suite 4) and that I don't need to configure any ports on the switch.

Does it sounds right?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
First I've heard of that!
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Broadcom has been advertising that feature for some time now. The problem is that it doesn't always work as expected. Their software is *supposed* to look for loopback packets and suppress them. The problem is that for that to work, the storm is already occurring. Think of it like turning down the volume on a microphone after it starts screeching from feedback. Sure, that kills the noise, but you've already deafened the audience. I've also seen where the loopback detection doesn't always work as expected. Especially with multiple/stacked switches in the mix. I would not consider it reliable.

If you don't have a smart switch where you can configure the ports for teaming, you probably don't want to team.

-Cliff
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LuiLui77Author Commented:
Good to know Cliff. I think I will be changing this Dell switch for my Cisco in order to configure as it should be. Lets see what Cisco says.
If you guys know of any documentation about configuring switch ports for NIC teaming will be awesome.

Thanks!
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LuiLui77Author Commented:
I will configure my switch ports accordingly to avoid storms.

Thanks.
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