High availability is a major requirement of every organization. Today I will talk about configuring redundant and high speed links in ESXi server. After installing ESXi 5.0 server in physical server, you might want to connect your ESXi host with Ether channel switch. Ether channel or bundle is a technology used in switches that combines multiple ports in switch and work like single link but at the same time doubling the speed. Similarly, ESXi server has a feature called NIC teaming. The NIC teaming combines multiple NICs of physical machine doubling the speed and providing redundant links. Today we will configure NIC teaming in ESXi server. In addition, we will configure Ether channel and Trunk ports in Cisco switch. To configure these technologies its better if you have basic knowledge of VLANs and Ether channel.
Configure NIC Teaming in ESXi Server
The diagram below shows our Network scenario. We have one physical server with two NICs. ESXi 5.0 is installed in this physical host. There are different VLANs in vSwitch 0. We will combine two NICs of physical server and two ports of switch and then configure trunk ports. This combination of two NICs in physical server is called NIC teaming. Similarly, combination of ports in switch is called link aggregation or Ether channel in Cisco terms and Bundle in Juniper terms. The IEEE standard for Ether channel or bundle is called 802.1AX. Here we will configure Ether channel in cisco switch.
First, lets configure Ether channel in Cisco 2960 switch. The ESXi 5.0 server doesn’t support LACP so we will configure link aggregation statically without defining dynamic protocols (like LACP and PAGP). We will leave native VLAN as default.
SwitchA(config)#int range fastEthernet 0/1 – 2
SwitchA(config-if-range)#channel-group 1 mode on
SwitchA(config-if-range)#switchport mode trunk
SwitchA(config)#interface port-channel 1
SwitchA(config-if)#switchport mode trunk
Now, lets configure NIC teaming in ESXi server. The screenshot below shows our current network scenario. Single virtual switch named vSwitch0 is connected to single physical Network Adapter. So let’s add another physical NIC to existing vSwitch0.
Click properties of vSwitch0 of standard switch as shown below.
vSwitch0 properties dialog box opens as shown below. Select Network Adapters tab.
Now click the Add button and select the network adapter that you want to team up with existing adapter.
Here I will check vmnic1 as shown below. After selecting the adapter click Next button.
Here you can change the order of adapters differently for different port groups. We will leave the default and click Next button and click Finish.
Now, to configure the load balancing option, on the same vSwitch0 properties box, select vSwitch and click Edit button as shown above.
vSwitch0 properties dialog box opens. Select NIC Teaming tab. Select route based on IP hash on load balancing option under policy exceptions. The route based on IP hash policy uses source IP and destination IP to create hash value. This hash value is used to select the physical adapter for outbound traffic. This is how virtual machine can use different physical adapters to communicate with other networks. Now, leave other options as it is and click OK button.