vSphere 5 new Networking features

Since the release of vSphere 5 few days ago several articles have been published, however most of them of focusing on the new “core” features and improvements. Well, that may not be true. I have noticed that the enhancements to the network stack have been mostly left aside. I guess bloggers are all busy trying to squeeze the juicy out of vSphere 5.

Some of the new features at the networking stack include:

  • LLDP (802.1AB) for dvSwitch (similar yto Cisco CDP but non-proprietary)
  • NetFlow for dvSwitch (monitor application flow and measure application performance overtime)
  • DVMirror for dvSwitch (Port Mirroring capability to send copy of packets to different ports)
  • DVMirrror Encapsulation VLAN Session when destination is an uplink port
  • NETIOC VM Traffic – per VM management
    These are the new features, however several enhancements to the vCenter Graphical User Interface will also make day-to-day administration easier.
    (there is a video demo at the end of the post)

When creating a vSphere Distributed Switch it’s possible to select the hardware version and the version 5.0 will enable Network I/O Control, NetFlow and Port Mirroring. Unfortunately the switch versions are not backwards compatible and you will need to upgrade all your ESX servers to version 5 if you want to use the new features.

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The vSwitch properties now display the MTU configured for the port group and also allows you to change the MTU via the GUI (see pictures below). Another interesting improvement is the ability to bind iSCSI port to the Management port group (discussed below). vCenter 5 also allow you to view the routing table simply clicking on a link.

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Changing the MTU.

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iSCSI Port Binding

The iSCSI initiator is enabled by Default in vSphere 5. However, the NIC binding process has simplified. The iSCSI binding process is done via the GUI and is just matter of few clicks. Go to Host Configuration > Storage Adapters, and select properties for vmhba33. Under Network Configuration tab click Add… and then you will be presented with a list of available vmnics existing in the vswitch configured with vkernel ports.

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You will only be able to add vmnics that are not part of a active-active or active-passive teaming. In other words, the teaming must be set to active-standby. Read the warning message in the picture below.

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The video below demonstrate the process for creating a dvSwitch in vCenter 5 and the configuration of some of the new features.

Creating a dvSwitch on vSphere 5

Creating dvSwitch on vSphere5 from Andre Leibovici on Vimeo.

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