Example Architectural Decision – Storage Protocol Choice for a VMware View Environment using Linked Clones

Problem Statement

What is the most suitable storage protocol for a Virtual Desktop (VMware View) environment using Linked Clones?


1.  The Storage Array supports NFS native snapshot offload
2. VMware View 5.1 or later


1. Minimize recompose (maintenance) window
2. Minimize impact on the storage array and HA/DRS cluster during recompose activities
3. Reduce storage costs where possible
4. Simplify the storage design eg: Number/size of Datastores / Storage Connectivity
5. Reduce the total solution cost eg: Number of Hosts required

Architectural Decision

Use Network File System (NFS)


1. Using native NFS snapshot (VAAI) offloads the creation of VMs to the array, therefore reducing the compute overhead on the ESXi hosts
2. Native NFS snapshots require much less disk space than traditional linked clones
3. Recomposition times are reduced due to the offloading of the cloning to the array
4. More virtual machines can be supported per NFS datastore compared to VMFS datastores (200+ for NFS compared to max recommended of 140, but it is generally recommended to design for much lower numbers eg: 64 per VMFS)
5. Recompositions/Refresh activities can be performed during business hours, or at Logoff (for Refresh) with minimal impact to the HA/DRS cluster, thus giving more flexibility to maintain the environment
6. Avoid’s potential VMFS locking issues – although this issue is not as important for environments using vSphere 4.1 onward with VAAI compatible arrays
7. When sizing your storage array, less capacity is required. Note: Performance sizing is also critical
8. The cost of a FC Storage Area Network can be avoided
9. Fewer ESXi hosts may be required as the compute overhead of driving cloning has been removed


1.  In the current release, 5.1, View Storage Accelerator (formally Content Based Read Cache or CBRC) is not supported when using Native NFS snapshots (VAAI)
2. Also in the current release 5.1, “Use native NFS snapshots (VAAI) is in “Tech Preview” – This is rumored to change in View 5.2


1. Use VMFS (block) based datastores and have more VMFS datastores – Note: Recompose activity will be driven by the host which adds an overhead to the cluster.

Example VMware vNetworking Design w/ 2 x 10GB NICs (IP based or FC/FCoE Storage)

I have had a large response to my earlier example vNetworking design with 4 x 10GB NICs, and I have been asked, “What if I only have 2 x 10GB NICs”, so the below is an example of an environment which was limited to just two (2) x 10GB NICs and used IP Storage.

If your environment uses FC/FCoE storage, the below still applies and the IP storage components can simply be ignored.


1. Provide high performance and redundant access to the IP Storage (if required)
2. Ensure ESXi hosts could be evacuated in a timely manner for maintenance
3. Prevent significant impact to storage performance by vMotion / Fault Tolerance and Virtual machines traffic
4. Ensure high availability for all network traffic


1. Two (2) x 10GB NICs


Use one dvSwitch to support all VMKernel and virtual machine network traffic and use “Route based of Physical NIC Load” (commonly refereed to as “Load Based teaming”).

Use Network I/O control to ensure in the event of contention that all traffic get appropriate network resources.

Configure the following Network Share Values

IP Storage traffic : 100
ESXi Management: 25
vMotion: 25
Fault Tolerance : 25
Virtual Machine traffic : 50

Configure two (2) VMKernel’s for IP Storage and set each on a different VLAN and Subnet.

Configure VMKernels for vMotion (or Multi-NIC vMotion), ESXi Management and Fault Tolerance and set to active on both 10GB interfaces (default configuration).

All dvPortGroups for Virtual machine traffic (in this example VLANs 6 through 8) will be active on both interfaces.

The above utilizes LBT to load balance network traffic which will dynamically move workload between the two 10GB NICs once one or both network adapters reach >=75% utilization.

vNetworking BLOG 2x10gb


Even when your ESXi hosts only have two x 10Gb interfaces, VMware provides enterprise grade features to ensure all traffic (including IP Storage) can get access to sufficient bandwidth to continue serving production workloads until the contention subsides.

This design ensures that in the event a host needs to be evacuated, even during production hours, that it will complete in the fastest possible time with minimal or no impact to production. The faster your vMotion activity completes, the sooner DRS can get your cluster running as smoothly as possible, and in the event you are patching, the sooner your maintenance can be completed and the hosts being patched are returned to the cluster to serve your VMs.

Related Posts

1. Example Architectural Decision – Network I/O Control for ESXi Host using IP Storage (4 x 10 GB NICs)
2. Network I/O Control Shares/Limits for ESXi Host using IP Storage

Example Architectural Decision – Network I/O Control Shares/Limits for ESXi Host using IP Storage

Problem Statement

With 10GB connections becoming the norm, ESXi hosts will generally have less physical connections than in the past where 1Gb was generally used, but more bandwidth per connection (and in total) than a host with 1GB NICs.

In this case, the hosts have only to 2 x 10GB NICs and the design needs to cater for all traffic (including IP storage) for the ESXi hosts.

The design needs to ensure all types of traffic have sufficient burst and sustained bandwidth for all traffic types without significantly negatively impacting other types of traffic.

How can this be achieved?


1. No additional Network cards (1gb or 10gb) can be supported
2. vSphere 5.1
3. Multi-NIC vMotion is desired


1. Two (2) x 10GB NICs


1. Ensure IP Storage (NFS) performance is optimal
2.Ensure vMotion activities (including a host entering maintenance mode) can be performed in a timely manner without impact to IP Storage or Fault Tolerance
3. Fault tolerance is a latency-sensitive traffic flow, so it is recommended to always set the corresponding resource-pool shares to a reasonably high relative value in the case of custom shares.
4. Proactively address potential contention due to limited physical network interfaces

Architectural Decision

Use one dvSwitch to support all VMKernel and virtual machine network traffic.

Enable Network I/O control, and configure NFS and/or iSCSI traffic with a share value of 100 and ESXi Management , vMotion & FT which will have share value of 25. Virtual Machine traffic will have a share value of 50.

Configure the two (2) VMKernel’s for IP Storage on dvSwitch and set to be Active on one 10GB interface and Standby on the second.

Configure two VMKernel interfaces for vMotion on the dvSwitch and set the first as Active on one interface and standby on the second.

A single VMKernel will be configured for Fault tolerance and will be configured as Active on one interface and standby on the second.

For ESXi Management, the VMKernel will be configured as Active on the interface where FT is standby and standby on the second interface.

All dvPortGroups for Virtual machine traffic will be active on both interfaces.


1. The share values were chosen to ensure IP storage traffic is not impacted as this can cause flow on effects for the environments performance. vMotion & FT are considered important, but during periods of contention, should not monopolize or impact IP storage traffic.
2. IP Storage is more critical to ongoing cluster and VM performance than ESXi Management, vMotion or FT
3. IP storage requires higher priority than vMotion which is more of a burst activity and is not as critical to VM performance
4. With a share value of 25,  Fault Tolerance still has ample bandwidth to support the maximum supported FT machines per host of 4 even during periods of contention
5. With a share value of 25, vMotion still has ample bandwidth to support multiple concurrent vMotion’s during contention however performance should not be impacted on a day to day basis. With up to 8 vMotion’s supported as it is configured on a 10GB interface. (Limit of 4 on a 1GB interface) Where no contention exists, vMotion traffic can burst and use a large percentage of both 10GB interfaces to complete vMotion activity as fast as possible
6. With a share value of 25,  ESXi Management still has ample bandwidth to continue normal operations even during periods of contention
7. When using bandwidth allocation, use “shares” instead of “limits,” as the former has greater flexibility for unused capacity redistribution.
8. With a share value of 50,  Virtual machine traffic still has ample bandwidth and should result in minimal or no impact to VM performance across 10Gb NICs
9. Setting Limits may prevent operations from completing in a timely manner where there is no contention


1. In the unlikely event of significant and ongoing contention, performance for vMotion may affect the ability to perform the evacuation of a host in a timely manner. This may extend scheduled maintenance windows.
2. VMs protected by FT may be impacted


1. Use a share value  of 50 for IP storage traffic to more evenly share bandwidth during periods of contention. However this may impact VM performance eg: Increased CPU WAIT if the IP storage is not keeping up with the storage demand

Related Posts
1. Example VMware vNetworking Design for IP Storage (4 x 10GB NICs)
2. Example VMware vNetworking Design for IP Storage (2 x 100GB NICs)
3. Frank Denneman (VCDX) – Designing your vMotion Network – Multi-NIC vMotion & NIOC