NIC Teaming in Server 2012

Having spent the last few days battling with the HP Network Configuration Utility (HP NCU) Microsoft’s decision to do away with the need for third party NIC teaming software is a very welcome addition of Server 2012.

Microsoft have never officially supported NIC teaming for Hyper-V (if you had problems and needed to talk to Microsoft support, more than likely you would have to dissolve the team before you could progress your support call too far). I have seen many network related Hyper-V issues that have boiled down to either be NIC driver or a third party teaming utility not playing nicely.

Built in NIC teaming has been a long requested feature, VMWare have had NIC teaming for a while so it’s no great surprise Microsoft have decided to include it. A great feature of this teaming solution is that you will be able to take a NIC from any manufacturer and team them e.g. I could team an Intel and a Broadcom card into a single team. This gives you some great redundancy advantages – if you upgrade the Intel driver and it stops working, no problem the Broadcom can keep the team up and running.

Creating a team is simple – just go to the Server Manager > Locate the teaming link under server properties and follow the very easy wizard.

Next just select the NIC ports you wanted to be included in the team (you can have a whopping 32 ports per team – using LBFO I could have 32 x 10Gb ports (although that would come in at a hefty price) simply having 32x 1Gb ports allows for some extreme bandwidth! This will be very useful for networks such as the live migration, especially as now you can have simultaneous migration happening at once.

Next give your new team a name and off you go. There are a few more additional options you can set, such as:

Team Mode:

Static Teaming: This mode is supported by most server-class switches. As the name suggests this is a manual configuration on the switch and server to form the teams.

Switch Independent: You don’t need to tell the switch anything or connect to different switches – although you can (and should) for better redundancy.

LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol): This will dynamically identify the links between the server and the switch. This will allow for the automatic creating of a team. LACP could also expand or reduce the number of NICs in the team.

Load Balancing Mode:

Hyper-V Port: The switch will balance the traffic on multiple links, based on the destination MAC address for the virtual machine.

Address Hash: This is a simple algorithm approach. Based in the components of the packet it creates a hash, it then sends packets with that hash to one of the available NICs.

Stand-by Adaptor: The name says it all – but you can have an active, active or active passive set-up by selecting the NIC you want to be waiting in the wings in case one of the active ports runs into problems.

Once the team has been created you can easily add or remove ports as required. You will see your newly created team in your adaptor settings of the ‘Network & Sharing Center’ as you would any other adaptor and this is where you can set your IP addressing requirements.

Obviously all this can also be achieved with PowerShell using the module ‘Netlbfo’

PS C:\Users\Administrator> Get-Command -Module Netlbfo

CommandType      Name                                              
Function         Add-NetLbfoTeamMember                       
Function        Add-NetLbfoTeamNic                              
Function         Get-NetLbfoTeam                                     
Function         Get-NetLbfoTeamMember                        
Function         Get-NetLbfoTeamNic                                  
Function         New-NetLbfoTeam                                     
Function         Remove-NetLbfoTeam                                  
Function         Remove-NetLbfoTeamMember               
Function         Remove-NetLbfoTeamNic                         
Function       Rename-NetLbfoTeam                                  
Function        Set-NetLbfoTeam                                    
Function         Set-NetLbfoTeamMember                          
Function         Set-NetLbfoTeamNic    

To create your team:
New-NetLbfoTeam -Name “ProductionTeam1” -TeamMembers LAN04,LAN02,LAN03 -TeamingMode Static

PS C:\Users\Administrator> Get-NetLbfoTeam
Name                   : Production Team 1
Members                : {Ethernet 4, Ethernet 3, Ethernet 2}
TeamNics               : Production Team 1
TeamingMode            : SwitchIndependent
LoadBalancingAlgorithm  : TransportPorts
Status                 : Down

One VERY cool feature is that all of this will also work within a virtual machine! This will mean that a VM will be able to be connected to more than one virtual switch. This will provide great redundancy all the way though the network layer from physical switch through to VM.

I think this is a great new feature for Windows Server 2012 and I’m sure many people will be recreating their teams with this ASAP and uninstalling their 3rd party vendor applications.

Excited about HP’s ‘Gen 8’servers?

I have always been a fan of HP’s server hardware and software so I have been to look at when their 8th generation ProLiant servers would have to offer and to see if HP’s claim of ‘HP ProLiant Gen8 servers are so intelligent, they virtually manage themselves’ is true.

HP’s proLiant server range is still the most popular x86 server out there it will be interesting to see if the changes this new model brings will be enough to keep it in the lead.

 

Solving common datacentre problems

HP claim there are two main reasons for hardware related human error downtime problems in the datacentre one of them being data corruption due to the removal of a working disk instead of a faulty one. To combat this problem HP have included a feature called Smart Drive whicnj will make it far easier to see which disk has gone down .

The second problem is bent pins and so they have come up with a solution for that to with a feature called Smart Socket, which is a new Xeon processor socket that HP developed with Intel to make sure that customers who add processors to ProLiant servers don’t bend the pins.

One of the new hardware features I am looking forward to seeing is the new SmartArray controllers which have now been optimised for use with solid state disks (will we start to see SSDs as common place drives in data centres soon?) these new controllers will also offer more secure 3 disk mirroring to keep your data nice and safe.

These are just a few of the 150 new features HP have said are included in the new range. There will be four ranges of the new Gen8 servers to take advantage of the 150+ new features HP have said will be included and these will be rolling out over the new couple of months according to John Gromala marketing director for ISSS division at HP.

The Gen8 ranges will replace the current ProLiant G7 range based on the Xeon 5500 and 5600 and Opteron 6100 and 6200 processors and will come in the ML (aimed at SME’s) and DL range (aimed at traditional data centre).

 

HP Proactive Support Services

HP have built a new cloud based portal ‘HP Insight Online’ (http://h20195.www2.hp.com/v2/GetPDF.aspx/5981-9842EN.pdf) that will give HP’s customers  and support staff (including HP partners) insight into what is happening with your servers and will allow HP’s support  staff to very quickly diagnose and repair any issues with your new Gen8 server (HP claim you will be able receive 40% + faster resolutions to your problems). Insight Online will be used to spot and fix potential trouble areas before they cause problems.

 

New look servers

For people who like their data centres looking top notch HP have upgraded the look of their Gen8 servers which now sport a brushed metal look with cool looking air vents.

 See HP’s Gen8 launch video here >> http://h17007.www1.hp.com/inc/whatsnew/proliantgen8/livestream.html