10 ESXi NIC Teaming Best Practices

ESXi NIC teaming is a great way to improve network performance and redundancy, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Here are 10 of them.

NIC Teaming is a feature of VMware ESXi that allows multiple physical network adapters to be combined into one or more virtual network adapters. This allows for increased bandwidth, fault tolerance, and load balancing.

In this article, we will discuss 10 best practices for configuring NIC Teaming in VMware ESXi. We will cover topics such as configuring the teaming policy, configuring the load balancing policy, and configuring the failover order. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your ESXi environment is configured for optimal performance and reliability.

1. Use the same speed and duplex settings on all NICs in a team

When you have different speed and duplex settings on the NICs in a team, it can cause packet loss or latency issues. This is because the NICs are not able to communicate with each other at the same rate. To avoid this issue, make sure that all of the NICs in your team have the same speed and duplex settings. This will ensure that they are all communicating at the same rate and help prevent any potential performance issues.

2. Do not use ESXi host management network as part of a vSwitch that is used for VM traffic

The ESXi host management network is used for communication between the ESXi host and vCenter Server, as well as other services such as Auto Deploy. If this network is part of a vSwitch that is used for VM traffic, it can cause performance issues due to increased latency or packet loss. Additionally, if the ESXi host loses connectivity to the vCenter Server, then all VMs connected to the vSwitch will be affected.

Therefore, it’s best practice to keep the ESXi host management network separate from any vSwitches used for VM traffic.

3. Ensure physical switch ports are configured to support link aggregation (LACP)

Link aggregation allows multiple physical network ports to be combined into a single logical link. This provides increased bandwidth and redundancy, as well as improved performance for applications that require high throughput or low latency.

When configuring LACP on the switch side, it’s important to ensure that all of the ports in the team are configured with the same settings. If any of the ports have different settings, then the team will not function properly. Additionally, make sure that the switch is capable of supporting LACP before attempting to configure it.

4. If using LACP, ensure all ports in an aggregated link are connected to the same physical switch

When using LACP, the switch and ESXi host must be configured to use the same settings. If the ports are connected to different switches, they may not have the same configuration, which can lead to instability or even complete failure of the link aggregation. Additionally, if the ports are connected to different switches, it is possible that traffic will not be evenly distributed across all links in the team, leading to suboptimal performance.

5. Use active/standby failover order for virtual switches with only one uplink

When you have multiple uplinks, the active/standby failover order ensures that traffic is sent through the primary link until it fails. This helps to ensure that your network remains stable and reliable. However, when you only have one uplink, this isn’t possible. In this case, using an active/standby failover order will help to prevent any single point of failure in your network. It also allows for more efficient use of resources since the standby link can be used if the primary link fails.

6. Use load-based or IP hash failover order for virtual switches with multiple uplinks

Load-based or IP hash failover order ensures that traffic is evenly distributed across all available uplinks. This helps to prevent any single link from becoming overloaded, which can lead to poor performance and even outages. Additionally, it allows for more efficient use of the available bandwidth by ensuring that each link is utilized as much as possible. Finally, using load-based or IP hash failover order also provides redundancy in case one of the links fails, allowing traffic to be routed through the remaining links without interruption.

7. Configure your vSwitches to have at least two uplinks

Having two uplinks allows for redundancy in the event of a single NIC failure. This ensures that your virtual machines remain connected to the network and can continue to communicate with other systems on the network.

It’s also important to note that you should configure your vSwitches to use different physical adapters, as this will provide additional protection against hardware failures. Additionally, it’s best practice to configure your teaming policy to be “Route based on originating port ID” so that traffic is distributed evenly across all available uplinks.

8. Set up redundant physical switches

Having redundant physical switches ensures that if one switch fails, the other can take over and keep your network running. This is especially important for mission-critical applications like virtualization, where any downtime could be costly.

Additionally, having redundant physical switches allows you to use link aggregation (LAG) or port trunking, which increases bandwidth and provides additional redundancy in case of a single NIC failure. This helps ensure that your ESXi host has enough bandwidth to handle all its workloads without interruption.

9. Use separate VLANs for iSCSI traffic

When using iSCSI, it’s important to ensure that the traffic is isolated from other network traffic. This helps prevent congestion and latency issues caused by competing for bandwidth with other types of traffic. By using separate VLANs for iSCSI traffic, you can guarantee that your storage traffic will have dedicated bandwidth and won’t be affected by other types of traffic on the same network.

Additionally, using separate VLANs for iSCSI traffic also provides an extra layer of security since the traffic is completely isolated from other networks. This means that any malicious actors attempting to access your storage data would need to breach multiple layers of security in order to do so.

10. Enable Jumbo Frames if you are using them

Jumbo Frames are larger than the standard Ethernet frame size of 1,500 bytes. This allows for more data to be sent in a single packet, which can improve performance and reduce latency.

However, if you don’t enable Jumbo Frames on your ESXi host, then any traffic that is sent with a frame size larger than 1,500 bytes will be dropped by the switch or router. To ensure that all traffic is properly routed, make sure to enable Jumbo Frames on both the ESXi host and the network devices it’s connected to.


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