Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel

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This tutorial will show you how to correctly setup NIC teaming with a Cisco Catalyst Switch using Etherchannel.

1. As you can see in our example we have an ESX server that has 2 x Broadcom Network Cards and 4 x Intel Network Cards. Currently each port is setup to connect to a seperate vSwitch. At the end of this tutorial we want to have all 6 adapters connected to the same vSwitch and all traffic load balanced across the 6 ports.

Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel
2. I have edited the vSwitch0 properties and have added all Network cards to the same vSwitch and made each one active. If you have existing network setup on the network cards you must remove them first. This load balancing Etherchannel trunk that we will be creating is designed to carry multiple vlan’s, so each Virtual Machine network or vmkernel port you create can be assigned a specific vlan. For our Etherchannel connection to our Cisco Switch we need to set the Load Balancing Policy to “Route based on IP hash” and Network Failover Detection to “Link status only”.

NOTE: This setting is placed on the vSwitch0, before applying this setting check the management network properties under the NIC teaming tab and make sure the override boxes are not ticked and it is using the default settings which is to use the settings of the vSwitch.

Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel
3. If we go back to our Network Adapters for the ESX server we can see each Network port connected to the same vSwitch0.

Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel
4. If we click on Networking for the ESX server we can see our Virtual Machine Port Groups connected to the 1 vSwitch0 which is then etherchanneled across the 6 adapters.

Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel
5. Now over to our Cisco Catalyst Switch. First we create a Port Channel and make it a trunk port. Optionally if you have non tagged packets crossing the link you can add the line switchport trunk native vlan xxx (replace xxx with the native vlan number). You can also give the port-channel interface a description if you like. You must also set the Etherchannel mode to src-dst-ip by typing in the following command: port-channel load-balance src-dst-ip in config mode.

Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel
6. Lastly we need to add the ports which the ESX server network cards connect to, into the port-channel group we created in the last step. I have optionally turned on flowcontrol in this example and also bpdufiltering (this is to optimize the network for storage traffic, iscsi and nfs, as well as data traffic). Enter this same config for each switch port that connects to your ESX server.

Network Teaming with Cisco Etherchannel
Disclaimer:

All the tutorials included on this site are performed in a lab environment to simulate a real world production scenario. As everything is done to provide the most accurate steps to date, we take no responsibility if you implement any of these steps in a production environment.

  • SaeeD

    Is this using version ESXi 4.1 update 1?

    I’m trying to get this working with a stacked set of cisco 3750G’s.  Without port channel applied it works fine- but with the port channel applied i loose all connectivity.

    Any advice?

    • Hi Saeed, I think when I did this tutorial I was using ESX, though it’s exactly the same for ESXi. Would you be able to post this question in the forums (click on the forums tab at the top) and post in either the vmware or cisco thread. Also list what you currently have setup for your port channel and the setup for each interface on the 3750 stack.

  • Alex

    Saeed, did you post your question in the forum? did you get a resolution?

    It would be good if you put the link with the resolution in here if any; I’m here straight from a Google Search.

    • Hi Alex, he didn’t end up posting in the forums, if you could post your question in the forums with a small diagram I can help you there ?