Multiple Nics teamed to share a single ip with SBS 2011

Hello experts,

I am building a SBS 2011 box and the client insists that I try to use two nics and team (or bind or whatever is the correct term) to share a single IP address.  He believes that the gigabit pipe coming from the cisco esw 540 48 port switch is a bottleneck and wants to, effectively, create a 2 Gigabit connection.  I read a few articles about this procedure in the past, but could use some help deciding on the configuration that will yield the fastest connection between the server and the 25 clients.  Budget should also be considered between options, but they are willing to spend what it takes to deploy the concept.

This is currently a single server setup design that will run SBS 2011.  There is a single subnet with one primary switch (the cisco esw 540 48port).  There are a couple of small switches in remote offices connected to the primary switch.  Basic Time Warner Cable router/modem connected to the office firewall/router with static IP.

I know that SBS 2011 does not like the server to have multiple IPs due to problems with the configuration and maintenance wizards, so the target is a single IP solution.

I know that SBS 2011 is based on Server 2008 R2 and believe there is a software based solution.

The rest of the server design will be as fast as possible regarding hardware components.

Some options that I do not know much about are using software teaming v hardware, if it is somehow possible to use a 10 Gigabit nic and add some sort of appliance that inputs multiple lines at 1 Gigabit and outputs a 10 gbps line, using a pcie card with two nics on the card instead of trying to use 2 cards (I would hope this option would have a chip to do the integration on the card instead of a software based approach).    I also do not know if there is a configuration option using the cisco switch that will result in a solution.

This question will be considered answered when a solution is presented and justified over any other options.  A link to the solution would be appreciated.  I am not asking anyone to write a report for me, just a few lines on why to choose their option.  I appreciate links to articles and blogs in conjunction with a solution and a couple lines, but I am not a fan of posts that include 5 links and nothing else.  I am asking for your expert advice.

If utilizing 2 nics with one IP is a particularly poor idea for a single server running SBS 2011, a convincing argument for that position will be considered a solution as well.

I personally feel that a 1 gbps line is just fine for this office, but my client is set on trying  this option, so I appreciate any help I can get.

Thank you all in advance... eric
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Cliff GaliherConnect With a Mentor Commented:
SBS simply doesn't support multiple NICs. That is why it doesn't support teaming and why bonding won't work either. Your choices are actually quite simple:

1) virtualize and team at the host level, as previously mentioned.
2) move away from SBS
3) You mentioned moving to 10Gb. If a single NIC 10Gb solution will appease your boss (you say s/he is insistent on teaming) then that is an option.
4) accept that 1gb single NIC topology is your only choice if the above options aren't suitable.

I'm sure your boss would love a genetically modified tree that grows dollar bills too, but he can't reasonably force you to make one. Sometimes the right answer is "it can't be done" given other constraints (budget, willingness to upgrade, etc.
I use teaming in an enviroment where I have multiple switches so it provides one more bandwidth and two if one switch were to die then the other is still online.

It is pretty easy to do if you use built software with the nic.  Does your MB have a multi nic unit?  If not try one of these..


I use the HP in the servers I have since they were already there..  You launch the software and it will guide you through it.. pic the NICS.. choose the IP settings and you are done.

I also put two different colored cat5 cables on mine.. and name the interfaces red and purple so I know which is where.
BTW.. the network is usually not the bottleneck..

Its either disk access or internet pipe being used up by silly things..
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Cliff GaliherConnect With a Mentor Commented:
SBS does nit support NIC teaming, period. The changes that NIC drivers have to make to support teaming directly conflict with things SBS does to the network stack to support its wizards and features.

You have essentially two choices:

use Hyper-V 2008 R2 and team at the host level, then have a single virtual NIC in an SBS guest VM. It'll be inefficient, but it'll work. 2008 R2 does bit have a software based solution for NIC teaming, so you'll have to refer to the NIC vendor for that portion of this solution.

The second option is to use Hyper-V 2012 or higher and use Microsoft's software NIC teaming at the host. Same principle applies; the guest SBS VM will only see one NIC. This is the solution I'd use. You get some networking enhancements that the software team supports specifically to improve VM performance.
-ewass-Author Commented:
DMT and Cliff,

Thank you for the quick responses.  I have read on several sites that SBS does not support nic teaming, but I did not know if that was at a software level or if one of the dual nic cards would have a chip that would take care of everything and SBS would not know the difference from a stack level.   Cliff and DMT, the product below that DMT suggested says it supports teaming in the specs.  Are you saying that the driver itself for such a device would cause conflicts in SBS 2011?  

If this card or one similar to it did its teaming on the card and passed the OS a stack that was already formatted, doesn't it seem reasonable that SBS would not know the difference between it and a single nic card?  Or am I way off base?

Thank you for the help.  I don't think we are going to be using any virtualization.  Interesting though.  Thoughts or other options?  

Thanks again... eric
Well the answer is maybe.. just because it is unsupported doesnt mean it cant be done.

They do not list this nic as SBS for teaming but for normal usage they do.

It really depends on if your client demands you to try..  What slow issues are they having?
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Actually the answer is very very seldom "maybe."  The issue is that NIC teaming requires making changes at the IP level of the network stack and can't be done solely at the ARP level. Because (rightly) windows involve itself at both levels, a NIC driver can't simply team the NICs and present one card to the OS. Thus it is t an issue of SBS just seeing one IP. It'll still see two NICs and that'll cause problems. Note that this is not unique to SBS. NIC drivers will say they support teaming at an OS level, but that doesn't guarantee applications will work above the OS. There are, for example, antivirus products that will not work with teamed NICs because of where they scan at the network level. The team works, but the AV doesn't. SBS is just one such product. NIC teaming works on the underlying OS, but most of the SBS features break. It is tue nature of how teaming has to work that causes this issue.
-ewass-Author Commented:

My company boss is very very insistent that I make this work.  We have discussed the nics during multiple requirements gathering meetings and it appears to be an irrational concept he has in his head and will not let go.

From what you have said, I can almost go to him in good faith and say I gave it my best.  

Are there any 3rd party appliances that would solve this problem?  I could imagine a small Linux or some other firmware based box that would combine lines into something larger at the IP level, say a 10 Gbps line.  If not, there may be a market for something like that.

Are there any reasonable switches that come with a 10Gbps port that I could add to the cisco esw 540 and put a 10 Gbps nic in the server?

Does "Maybe maybe" mean you can visualize it working and most likely not working, or can I back this up with your practical knowledge of VMs or SBS installs that did not support dual nics in the lab?

I am not trying to be critical or overly question anyone's work or advice.  These are just the kinds of questions I may have to answer in future meetings when I say "No" to this guys obsession.

Thanks as always... eric
What kind of data are you pushing over the network?  

If he wants this so bad then dump SBS and go with standard server?

I really bet your bottle neck is not the network.
You could probably set up bonding (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) through the switch which eliminates the SBS issue.

That switch will bond up to 8 ports.
Just RTFM.

If you are really feeling bleeding edge,try setting up jumbo frames.

Unless you guys are running a SAN,I think you're swatting flies with a cannon,but hey,that's what management is for,right?
-ewass-Author Commented:
thanks for the idea using bonding.  I will check it out.  

do you guys think this makes any sense to me or I am starting this thread for fun?  Of course the network card speed is not the problem.  

I give my best advice and do what I am told.  He insists on a bigger pipe to the server and has maintained the position through several meetings regardless of my arguments.  I am going to do what he asks unless I can put together an argument that will convince him to drop it.  We are almost there on that front.

Thanks again and any more ideas are welcome as I check out the bonding angle.... e
-ewass-Author Commented:

The majority of the data appears to be redirected folders, Elliot ERP software, and exchange.  In my opinion, Exchange is the real reason not to dump SBS 2011 and to stay with 2011 instead of 2012.  It appears 2012 wants to use office online and charge $20/user/month for a mailbox.  I do not remember exactly how much a standard exchange server is, but it is a massive deal bundled with SBS...  e
Olaf De CeusterCommented:
Just confirming: Teaming does not work . Tried a few times, never won.
A 10GB Nic will work fine.
If you want better speeds you need faster HDD's and more ram. Thats the only guaranteed way.
Good luck.
Sorry matey but some of the guys above are correct.
SBS does not work with teaming.

There are two ways to do teaming: Driver level and OS level.

SBS does not include any OS level teaming facilities.

You can install NICs that have their own teaming facility (Broadcom NICS use their BACS software for example)

This can be installed and can even be configured on an SBS, but it just doesn't work.
SBS isn't meant to do this and even if you do get it working, it is likely to fail randomly. Each time you run an SBS wizard, install a service pack or even reboot it, it may lose NIC settings or just refuse to work.

And yes, I have experimented with this in a lab environment as I hate to be told something doesn't work!

With regard to the need for teaming, I agree with you that it is very unlikely to be required,
The amount of data needed to overload a single gigabit connection is way more that an SBS server could handle. even if you spec the server really well it would be unlikely to get close to filling a gigabit bandwidth due to the various different thing the server is trying to do at the same time. The disks are usually a bottleneck way before the NIC is.
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