Virtualization Pro Tips Blog

Video Training Tiplet: Teaming & Load Balancing ESXi NICs in vCenter Server 4.1

A single network connection won't get you far in ESXi. It'll absolutely get you network connectivity, but you'll quickly lose that connectivity should you lose the NIC. Learn how to team network connections in ESXi and vCenter Server 4.1 in this Video Training Tiplet.



Hey, this is Greg Shields with another Windows IT Pro Video Training Tiplet, this time on Teaming and Load Balancing ESXi Server NICs in vCenter Server version 4.1. So you’ve completed the installation of ESXi and you’ve probably got your vCenter Server up and running, and the next thing you probably want to do is team some of the network connections so your virtual machines have a redundant connection to the production network.

Now when you team those connections, you’ve got a couple of different options for how you team them. First is failover teaming, which essentially means that one NIC will pick up when the other one fails, or you can also do load balancing teaming which uses the 802.3ad link aggregation protocol on the network switch side to actually go through and complete load balancing so that both of the NICs are in use at all times.

Now the way that you go about doing that involves a couple of steps. The first thing that you need to do is obviously here inside of the vSphere Client. You’ll see that I have two servers that are currently attached to Our DataCenter. And for this server, 221, I’m actually looking at its configuration tab here under Networking. You’re probably familiar with the virtual networking configuration of ESX. Here on the left-hand side we have the virtual half of the equation. Here are our Virtual Machine Port Groups and also the VMkernel port that is being used for the management network.

In the middle we have our grey box that references the virtual switch. And on the right-hand side we have the physical adapters that plug into that virtual switch. Adding an additional physical adapter starts by clicking the Properties button. When you click the Properties button and choose Network Adapters, you’ll see that we only have that single network card that’s configured here.

Now before you make the next step, make sure that on your network side – over in your network gear – that you have the switches configured to perform 802.3ad link aggregation in static mode, and also that its load balancing method is set to route based on IP hash. You’ll want to do that first on the network side so that you’ll be able to pull that into here on the ESX side.

Let’s assume that you’ve already done that. If you click the Add button, you can add in an unclaimed adapter. You’ll see that there’s one unclaimed adapter on this server. Click the checkbox and hit Next and provide the NIC order for the adapters that you want to connect to this port group. You’ll see that two active adapters are currently here, and that you want to use those as load balanced adapters. If we wanted to use them as failover, we could move one of these adapters down to the second half of the screen. I’ll move it back up and hit the Next button here, and Finish to complete adding this adapter to this port group. You’ll see if I hit the close button here I now have two physical adapters that are connected in to my virtual switch.

I’m half done.

The next step is to go back here under properties and take a look at vSwitch. This is the vSwitch port group. I’m going to use the Edit button here and look at NIC Teaming. I told you just a minute ago that we need to ensure that the load balancing method is set to route based on IP hash. And we’ll need to set that over here on this side as well. Once I’ve done that I’ll see in the little information box that appears that IP hash load balancing must be set for all port groups using the same set of uplinks.

Once you’ve done that on both the network side and here on the ESX side, you should be good to go. Click the OK button, and Close, and now these adapters will operate as a load balancing team.

If you liked this tip, come on back to Windows IT Pro for more video training tiplets, and thanks for watching!


Catch up with @ConcentratdGreg on Twitter!

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.