Competition Example Architectural Decision Entry 3 – Scalable network architecture for VXLAN

Name: Prasenjit Sarkar
Title: Senior Member of Technical Staff
Company: VMware
Twitter: @stretchcloud
Profile: VCAP-DCD4/5,VCAP-DCA4/5,VCAP-CIA,vExpert 2012/2013

Problem Statement

You are moving towards scalable network architecture for your large scale Virtualized Datacenter and want to configure VXLAN in your environment. You want to make sure that Teaming Policy for VXLAN transport is configured optimally for better performance and reduce operational complexity around it.


1. vSphere 5.1 or greater
2. vCloud Networking & Security 5.1 or greater
3. Core & Edge Network topology is in place


1. Should have switches that support Static Etherchannel or LACP (Dynamic Etherchannel)
2. Have to use only IP Hash Load balancing method if using vSphere 5.1
3. Cannot use Beacon Probing as Failure Detection mechanism


1. Optimize performance for VXLAN

2. Reduce complexity where possible

3. Choosing best teaming policy for VXLAN Traffic for future scalability

Architectural Decision

LACP – Passive Mode will be chosen as the teaming policy for the VXLAN Transport.

At least two or more physical links will be aggregated using LACP in the upstream Edge switches.

Two Edge switches will be connected to each other.

ESXi host will be cross connected to these two Physical upstream switches for forming a LACP group.

LACP will be configured in Passive mode in Edge switches so that the participating ports responds to the LACP packets that it receives but does not initiate LACP negotiation.


1. Use LACP – Active Mode and make sure you are using IP Hash algorithm for the load balancing in your vDS if using vSphere 5.1.

2. Use LACP – Active Mode and use any of the 22 available load balancing algorithm in your vDS if using vSphere 5.5.

3. Use LACP – Active Mode and use Cisco Nexus 1000v virtual switch and use any of the 19 available load balancing algorithm.

4. Use Static Etherchannel and make sure you are using IP Hash *Only* algorithm in your vDS.

5. If using Failover then have at least one 10G NIC to handle the VXLAN traffic.


1. Fail Over teaming policy for VXLAN vmkernel NIC uses only one uplink for all VXLAN traffic. Although redundancy is available via the standby link, all available bandwidth is not used.
2. Static Etherchannel requires IP Hash Load Balancing be configured on the switching infrastructure, which uses a hashing algorithm based on source and destination IP address to determine which host uplink egress traffic should be routed through.

3. Static Etherchannel and IP Hash Load Balancing is technically very complex to implement and has a number of prerequisites and limitations, such as, you can’t use beacon probing, you can’t configure standby or unused link etc.

4. Static Etherchannel does not do pre check both the terminating ends before forming the Channel Group. So, if there are issues within two ends then traffic will never pass and vSphere will not see any acknowledgement back in it’s Distributed Switches

5. Active LACP mode places a port into an active negotiating state, in which the port initiates negotiations with other ports by sending LACP packets. If using vSphere prior to 5.5 where only IP Hash algorithm is supported then LACP will not pass any traffic if vSphere uses any other algorithm other than IP Hash (such as Virtual Port ID)

6. The operational complexity is reduced

7. If using vSphere 5.5 then can use 22 different algorithm for load balancing and also Beacon Probing can be used for Failure Detection.


1. Initial setup has a small amount of additional complexity however this is a one time task (Set & Forget)

2. Only IP Hash algorithm is supported if using vSphere 5.1

3. Only one LAG can be supported for the entire vSphere Distributed Switches if using vSphere 5.1

4. IP Hash calculation if not done manually by taking VM’s vNIC and Physical NIC then there is no guarantee that it will balance the traffic across physical links

Back to Competition Main Page or Competition Submissions

Example Architectural Decision – vMotion configuration for Cisco UCS

Problem Statement

In an environment where a customer has pre-purchased Cisco UCS to replace end of life equipment, what is the most suitable way to configure vMotion to make the most efficient use of the infrastructure?


1. vSphere 5.1 or greater
2. Two x 10GB Network interfaces per UCS Blade (Cisco Palo Adapters)
3. Core & Edge Network topology is in place using Cisco Nexus
4. Cisco Fabric Interconnects are in use


1. Optimize performance for vMotion without impacting other traffic
2. Reduce complexity where possible
3. Minimize network traffic across the Nexus core

Architectural Decision

Two (2) vNICs will be presented from the Cisco fabric interconnect to each blade (ESXi Host) which will appear to the ESXi host as vmNIC0 and vmNIC1.

vNIC0 will be connected to “Fabric A” and vNIC1 will be connected to “Fabric B”.

The vMotion VMKernel (VMK) for each ESXi host will be configured on a vSwitch (or Distributed vSwitch) with two (2) 10GB Network adapters with vmNIC0 as “Active” and vmNIC1 as “Standby”.

Fabric failover will not be enabled in the fabric interconnect.

vmNIC Failback at the vSphere layer will be disabled.


1. Under normal circumstances vMotion traffic will only traverse Fabric A and will not impact Fabric B or the core network thus it will minimize the north-south traffic.
2. In the event that Fabric A suffers a failure of any kind, the VMK for vMotion will failover to the standby vNIC (vmNIC1) which will result in the same optimal configuration as traffic will only traverse Fabric B and not the core network thus it will minimizing the north-south traffic.
3. The failover is being handled by vSphere at the software layer which removes the requirement for fabric failover to be enabled. This allows a vSphere administrator to have visibility of the status of the networking without going into the UCS Manager.
4. The operational complexity is reduced
5. The solution is self healing at the UCS layer and this is transparent to the vSphere environment
6. At the vSphere layer, failback is not required as using Fabric B for all VMK vMotion traffic is still optimal. In the event Fabric B fails, the environment can failback automatically to Fabric A.


1. Initial setup has a small amount of additional complexity however this is a one time task (Set & Forget)
2. vNIC0 and vNIC1 need to be manually configured to Fabric A and Fabric B at the Cisco Fabric Interconnect via UCS manager however this is also a one time task (Set & Forget)


1. Use Route Based on Physical NIC Load and have VMK for vMotion managed automatically by LBT
2. Use vPC and Route based on IP Hash for all vSwitch traffic (including vMotion VMK)
3. Use the Fabric Failover option at the UCS layer using a single vNIC presented to ESXi for all traffic
4. Use the Fabric Failover option at the UCS layer using two vNICs presented to ESXi for all traffic – Each vNIC would be pinned to a single Fabric (A or B)

Thank you to Prasenjit Sarkar (@stretchcloud) for Co-authoring this Example Architectural Decision.

Related Articles

1. Trade-off factor – Cisco UCS Fabric Failover OR OS based NIC teaming using dual fabric (Stretch-cloud – By Prasenjit Sarkar @stretchcloud)
2 . Why You Should Pin vMotion Port Groups In Converged Environments (By Chris Wahl @ChrisWahl)

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