Windows Server 2012 and our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 include native teaming of network adapters to provide load balancing, bandwidth aggregation and failover capabilities using standard Ethernet NICs. IT Pros have been really interested in NIC teaming, because it can provide the extra bandwidth and fault tolerance needed for business critical networks segments supporting virtual machines, clusters, live migrations and storage - all over commodity network adapters!
My friend and colleague, Kevin Remde, has written a great article on his "Full of I.T." blog that provides a detailed technical overview of NIC teaming features. Be sure to check it out!
NIC Teaming is GREAT! But ... Do I need to configure my network switches?
One of the common questions on NIC teaming is whether special network switches and/or customized switch configurations are needed to fully support NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012. And, the answer is ... it depends! You see, NIC Teaming can be configured in either a "Switch Independent" mode or a "Switch Dependent" mode.
When configuring NIC Teaming in "Switch Independent" mode, the teaming configuration will work with any Ethernet switches - even non-intelligent switches - because Windows Server 2012 handles all of the intelligence with this NIC teaming mode. No special configuration changes are necessary. You can even use this mode to team across separate switches in scenarios that require switch diversity for extra network fault tolerance. See below for the configuration setting for "Switch Independent" mode ...
Are there any special considerations when using "Switch Independent" mode?
When using Switch Independent mode, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Here's where you set the "Load Balancing Mode" when configuring NIC teaming:
What about other NIC teaming scenarios?
If you have servers that align with other usage scenarios, you'll likely need to get your network switches involved in the NIC teaming configuration by using one of the "Switch Dependent" NIC teaming modes with "Address Hash" load balancing. Specifically, I've seen the following usage scenarios arise where a switch dependent team mode is needed:
In these scenarios, you can configure the NIC team to use one of the "Switch Dependent" team modes by configuring the "Teaming Mode" to either of the following values:
Note that when configuring one of these "Switch Dependent" modes, you'll also need to configure your network switch to appropriately handle traffic the network team. On the Cisco switch in my lab, here's the configuration I used with the "Static" team mode:
kemlabsw01(config)# int port-channel1kemlabsw01(config-if)# description NIC team for Windows Server 2012kemlabsw01(config-if)# int gi0/23kemlabsw01(config-if)# channel-group 1 mode onkemlabsw01(config-if)# int gi0/24kemlabsw01(config-if)# channel-group 1 mode onkemlabsw01(config)# port-channel load-balance src-dst-ip
Your Turn ... Now You Try It!
As part of our Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Installer Quest, we have additional study resources and a hands-on lab available where you can practice NIC teaming for FREE. Join us and begin the Installer Quest today!
Share Your Experiences!
Are you using NIC Teaming in your environment? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Hope this helps,
Keith Mayer is a Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 20 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT Pros worldwide on design of enterprise technology solutions.
Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including Private Cloud, System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from VMware, IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.
You can contact Keith online at http://aka.ms/AskKeith.