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

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