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NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012

NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012

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Rob Waggoner

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Windows Server 2008 R2 supported NIC teams, but Windows Server 2008 R2 depended on the NIC manufacturers to develop the teaming software.  In Windows Server 2012  the NIC teaming capability is now native to the Operating System.  

There are three great things that stand out to me about NIC teaming. 

  1. You can team NICs for normal network traffic or for your virtual environment. 
  2. You can now team NICs from different manufacturers. 
  3. You can team up to 32 NICs into a single team.

Below, I will walk through the User Interface and options available.

We have a good NIC teaming overview here, but I wanted to hit a few of the high points of NIC teaming in Windows Server 2012.  You need at least two NICs to create a team and you can team as many as 32 NICs into one team.   Setting up a NIC team is very easy and I really like that the setup process respects the names you put on your NICs.

 

image Once you create the NIC team, you can select the NICs that will be part of the team. 
You can now expand the additional properties to make additional configuration changes based upon your individual network configuration. 

You should have choices when you setup your NIC team.  Teaming should not be a static configuration that is  “One Size Fits All”.

 

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The Team Properties provides a list of all available NICS in the server.  Here you can choose which NICs you want added to your team.

I named my NICs “Test NIC 1, “Test NIC 2, and “Test NIC 3”.  

The team is named “Team 1”.

 

Below, are the additional details that can be configured for your NIC team.  This allows you to be very specific about how the team is load balanced and connected to your network. 

 

Teaming Mode:

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You can configure your team for either Static Teaming, Switch Independent, or LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol).

Static Teaming requires configuration on the switch and the computer to identify which links form the team. Because this is a statically configured solution.  This is a switch dependent mode of NIC teaming.

Switch Independent mode allows you to distribute the NICs in your team across numerous Network Switches in your environment. 

LACP provides the Link Aggregation and allows for the expansion and reduction of the NIC team.  This is a switch independent mode of NIC teaming.

 

Load Balancing Mode:

 

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Load balancing mode: your choices are either Address Hash, or Hyper-V PortAddress Hash is  how you configure your team to load balance network traffic between the NICs in the team.  Hyper-V Port load balancing will load balance your traffic by VM.  With Hyper-V Port, the good news is that each VM will transact on a separate NIC, but the down side is that each VM will only transact over a single NIC.  If you have multiple virtual NICs in your VM and they are teamed, the Hyper-V Port may be the best choice.   For most configurations, I expect that the Address Hash will be your best choice to allow your VM to still access the network in case the NIC the VM is utilizing fails.  Remember that with Hyper-V Port the failure of the NIC the VM is utilizing disrupts communication between the VM and the network.  Address Hash won’t have this problem.

Standby Adapter:

 

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This allows you to define a Standby Adapter for the team.  Take note that you can only define one Standby Adapter, but you can ensure that your teamed bandwidth is available even if a NIC in your team fails. 

 

image Take a look at the current Network Connections.  Team 1 is the teamed NIC.  I hope you have also noticed that the teamed NICs are from different manufacturers! 

You are able to now team NICs from different manufacturers.

 

Until next time,

 

Rob

Comments
  • Is this correct:

    LACP provides the Link Aggregation and allows for the expansion and reduction of the NIC team.  This is a switch independent mode of NIC teaming.

    Isn't LACP DEPENDENT on the switch ?

  • by all means it is, rob needs to correct that

  • I believe it was worded correctly, but can be ambiguous. When I read it, my interpretation was that LACP does not require ports to be manually configured for teaming on the switch, because a LACP-enabled switch can detect the team configuration and automatically configure the ports. Therefore, LACP does not require additional configuration on a LACP-capable switch to add or remove NICs from a team connected to the switch. But, LACP is dependent on the switch supporting LACP, it just eliminates the need to reconfigure the ports manually whenever the team uses fewer or more ports. I hope that helps the next person who finds this article.

  • Thanks danfromfla, it did help the next person who found the article. ;-)

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