VMware vSphere: Setup Networking

Designing the architecture of the Network Infrastructures in a virtual Data Center is not probably the easiest thing to do considering the number of possible requirements when combined together. So concepts like security, performance, isolation, redundancy and fail-over make this exercise more interesting than ever. The good news is that the built-in configuration tools in VMware vSphere and vCenter offer an unmatched flexibility able to satisfy even the most stringent requirements. Nonetheless the Design and Implementation phases require a well thought process. The aim of this article is to continue the journey of configuring our home lab trying to mimic when possible scenarios and best practices that might be implemented in enterprise environments. Indeed an opportunity to review the benefits and capabilities of the VMware vSphere Networking configurations in relation to the physical resources available in our home lab.

Ideally progressing from this article showing how to add extra USB Ethernet Drivers (big credits to Jose Gomes for his excellent article and Drivers) I would like to proceed with a simple step by step setup of the vSphere Networking. At this point in time this post will cover the following topics:

  • Setup Physical Network Adapters
  • Setup TCP/IP Stacks
  • Setup VMkernel
  • Configure vSwitches

Depending on the available resources and intended  requirements there are multiple configurations that can achieve the desired state. For the purpose of this article series my home lab will have the following goals:

  • Differentiate between Management, Storage and Provisioning traffic
  • Isolate network traffic based on type
  • Dedicate specific vNICs to traffic type for primary and fail-over connections
  • Separate network traffic by vSwitch
  • Fine tuning of the vSwitches for advanced scenarios (based on current hardware)

These are only a few examples of the standard requirements that pertain to Virtual Data Centers. Let’s see how we can reproduce these requirements and bring our home lab to the next level!

This home lab will be configured to satisfy the following requirements:

Phase 1

  • Create one network for Management Traffic
    • Serving connections between Hosts, vCenter and SNMP Clients
    • Will use the “Default” TCP/IP Stack and one dedicated physical network adapter of 1Gb
  • Create one network for Storage Traffic
    • Serving connections between Hosts and Physical Storage offering LUNs where the current Datastores are located
    • This will be used to separate the iSCSI traffic for better performances
    • Will use a custom “iSCSI” TCP/IP Stack and one dedicated physical network adapter of 1GB
  • Create one network for vMotion Traffic
    • Serving the traffic generated during the migration of running VMs along with their configuration files to a new storage
    • Specific to vMotion and Storage vMotion operations it will not impact on other traffic types during its operations
    • Will use the “vMotion” TCP/IP Stack and one dedicated physical network adapter of 1Gb
  • Create one network for Cold Provisioning Traffic
    • Specific to VM Cold migration (Power off), Cloning, Snapshot creation and consolidation
    • Specific to Cold Provisining operations it will not impact on other traffic types during its operations
    • Will use the “Provisioning” TCP/IP Stack and one dedicated physical network adapter of 1Gb

Phase 2

  • Enable vLANs
    • Enable vLANs to separate traffic within same domain broadcast
    • This will be detailed in an advanced configuration during Phase 2
  • Enable load balanced and redundant networks
    • This will be detailed in an advanced configuration during Phase 2
  • Enable Jumbo Frames
    • This will be detailed in an advanced configuration during Phase 2

At this point we are ready to move to the next article about the Physical Network Adapters

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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