Tuesday, September 09, 2014

DELL Force10 switch and NIC Teaming

NIC teaming is a feature that allows multiple network interface cards in a server to be represented by one MAC address and one IP address in order to provide transparent redundancy, balancing, and to fully utilize network adapter resources. If the primary NIC fails, traffic switches to the secondary NIC because they are represented by the same set of addresses.

Let's assume we have host with two NICs where primary NIC is connected to Force10 switch port 0/1 and secondary NIC to switch port 0/5. When you use NIC teaming, consider that the server MAC address is originally learned on Port 0/1 of the switch and Port 0/5 is the failover port. When the NIC fails, the system automatically sends an ARP request for the gateway or host NIC to resolve the ARP and refresh the egress interface. When the ARP is resolved, the same MAC address is learned on the same port where the ARP is resolved (in the previous example, this location is Port 0/5 of the switch). To ensure that the MAC address is disassociated with one port and re-associated with another port in the ARP table, configure the
mac-address-table station-move refresh-arp 
command on the Dell Networking switch at the time that NIC teaming is being configured on the server.

! NOTE: If you do not configure the mac-address-table station-move refresh-arp command, traffic continues to be forwarded to the failed NIC until the ARP entry on the switch times out.

UPDATE 2015-03-16:
I have just discovered another FTOS command ...
arp learn-enable
   Enable ARP learning using gratuitous ARP.

NIC Teaming solutions can leverage gratuitous ARP so it is worth to enable it in my opinion.

This command should be very beneficial on VMware environments where VMware vSwitch sends gratuitous ARP after VM is vMotioned from one ESXi host to another.  (ESXi host doesn't use gratuitous arp but revers arp - RARP).



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