Compaq | 3020 - Cisco Catalyst Blade Switch | Specifications | Compaq 3020 - Cisco Catalyst Blade Switch Specifications

HP Virtual Connect for the Cisco Network
Administrator
“A technical discussion of the HP Virtual Connect 1.2x features
and their interoperation with a Cisco network infrastructure”
Table of Contents
Abstract..................................................................................................................................................................3
Disclaimer, Prerequisites, and Versioning......................................................................................................... 3
Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................................3
Definitions...............................................................................................................................................................4
HP BladeSystem Architecture Overview .......................................................................................................... 5
c-Class Cabling Layout ...................................................................................................................................6
c-Class Ethernet Interconnect Options ........................................................................................................ 8
HP Virtual Connect Technology ........................................................................................................................ 8
Overview............................................................................................................................................................8
Virtual Connect Components ....................................................................................................................... 9
Virtual Connect Technical Specifications .................................................................................................10
Virtual Connect Manager User Interfaces.................................................................................................10
Virtual Connect Port Descriptions ...............................................................................................................11
Overview of Virtual Connect Ethernet Connectivity...............................................................................11
VC Uplink Fault Tolerance ........................................................................................................................12
VC Uplink Load Balancing........................................................................................................................14
Port Channeling (802.3ad) Load Balancing Algorithm………………….………………………… …15
VC Uplinks and VLAN Trunking.................................................................................................................17
Unsupported Cisco VLAN Protocols.........................................…………………………………………19
Virtual Connect and NIC Teaming .............................................................................................................19
Virtual Connect and Cisco Terminology Comparison ............................................................................20
Cisco Configuration Guidelines for VC Uplink Ports.................................................................................21
Sample Virtual Connect Ethernet and Cisco Configurations ................................................................22
Sample Configuration 1: VC Uplinks Connected to Cisco Access Ports .........................................22
Sample Configuration 2: VC Uplinks Connected to Cisco VLAN Trunk Ports ..................................23
Sample Configuration 3: VC Uplinks Connected to a Cisco EtherChannel ...................................24
Sample Configuration 4: VC Uplinks Connected to a Cisco EtherChannel VLAN Trunk ..............26
Advanced Virtual Connect Ethernet Designs...........................................................................................27
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #1 ...............................................................................28
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #2 ...............................................................................28
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #3 ...............................................................................29
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #4 ...............................................................................30
Comparing VC and VMware Networking Technology...........................................................................32
Virtual Connect’s Loop Prevention Technology.......................................................................................35
Stacking Virtual Connect Ethernet Modules .............................................................................................35
Optimizing Virtual Connect Stacking Links ............................................................................................36
VC Managed MAC Addresses ....................................................................................................................37
Spanning Tree .....................................................................................................................................................38
PortFast.............................................................................................................................................................39
BPDU Guard ....................................................................................................................................................39
Unidirectional Link Detection (UDLD)..........................................................................................................39
Quality of Service ...............................................................................................................................................40
Security.................................................................................................................................................................40
ACLs & VLAN ACLs .........................................................................................................................................40
Port Security.....................................................................................................................................................41
Private VLANs ..................................................................................................................................................42
Multicast & IGMP Snooping..............................................................................................................................43
SPAN (Port Monitoring) ......................................................................................................................................43
Logging ................................................................................................................................................................44
Centralized User Access Control (LDAP)........................................................................................................44
Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) ......................................................................................................................44
Additional Resources .........................................................................................................................................45
About the Author ...............................................................................................................................................45
Appendixes .........................................................................................................................................................46
Appendix A: Description of VC Network Diagram...................................................................................46
Appendix B: c3000 Port Mapping Diagram ..............................................................................................47
Appendix C: Frequently Asked Questions .................................................................................................48
Abstract
This whitepaper discusses the networking technology behind Virtual Connect Ethernet as it relates to
interoperability with a Cisco network infrastructure. Since Virtual Connect represents a new way of
interconnecting HP Blade servers to external networks, many implementers have questions about
how Virtual Connect will integrate into their existing Cisco network infrastructure. This whitepaper
specifically addresses the core Ethernet networking technologies used by Virtual Connect Ethernet
and how they interoperate with a Cisco network infrastructure.
Disclaimer, Prerequisites, and Versioning
The purpose of this whitepaper is to provide a technical discussion of the Virtual Connect
components, and their operation, with specific attention given to interoperability with Cisco
switches and routers. This paper does not provide an exhaustive discussion of all aspects of Virtual
Connect operation and configuration and this paper is not a competitive analysis between Virtual
Connect and other vendor’s Ethernet solutions.
It is assumed that the reader is already familiar with Cisco terminology and device operation and
that the reader is familiar with the basics of HP BladeSystem c-Class enclosures, HP BladeSystem cClass blade servers, and HP BladeSystem Virtual Connect. For additional information on these HP
BladeSystem c-Class components, please visit: http://www.hp.com/go/bladesystem &
http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/c-class-interconnects.html.
Recommended Prerequisite Reading:
• Non-technical Summary of Virtual Connect Technology
• White Paper: How to implement Virtual Connect
• Virtual Connect User Guide (version 1.2x)
This whitepaper was written based on the features provided in Virtual Connect firmware version 1.2x
and earlier. Newer releases of firmware may introduce new features or may introduce changes to
the way existing features work. For any discrepancies between the information in this paper and
actual operation, it is recommended that the Administrator refer to the Virtual Connect manuals
and release notes matching the firmware version being used. Both can be found online at
www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/documentation under the “Install Your Solution tab”.
Introduction
Virtual Connect is an innovative networking product for HP BladeSystem c-Class customers that has
been shipping since February 2007. Virtual Connect was designed and engineered as a direct result
of customer requests for a better way to manage blade server network connections. As with any
new product that introduces a better way of solving old problems, it is very important for the
Administrator to fully understand the impact of the new product and for them to feel comfortable
with its introduction into their environment. Virtual Connect’s implementation into a customer
environment will not only positively affect the Server Administrators, but also the LAN and SAN
Administrators. More specifically, because of this impact on LAN Administrators, a thorough
discussion of Virtual Connect and its operation and interoperability with the existing Cisco network
infrastructure is very important.
While this whitepaper assumes the reader is familiar with the basics of the HP BladeSystem c-Class
architecture, it will review some of the important aspects that are key to understanding Virtual
Connect technology. It will begin with a list of definitions for terms that will be used extensively within
the paper. Next, a brief overview of the core networking components of the HP BladeSystem cClass architecture will be covered, followed by an in-depth discussion of the Virtual Connect
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Ethernet components and technology. The subsequent sections will be devoted to covering the
details of many networking features where Virtual Connect and the external Cisco infrastructure
intersect.
Definitions
ACL (VACL)
BPDU
CDP
CX-4
External Network
Internal cross-connect
LACP
LAG
LLDP
Logical Path
LOM
Port Trunk (channel group)
Quality of Service (QoS)
Server Profile
SFP
Shared Uplink Set (SUS)
Stacking Link
VC
VC-Enet
VC-FC
VCM
Virtual Connect Domain
Virtual Connect Network
(vNet)
VC Downlink
VCEM
Access Control List or VLAN Access Control List: A set of rules that allows
or disallows network traffic to flow between network devices
Bridge Protocol Data Unit: A spanning tree configuration frame
exchanged between switches in the same spanning tree domain
Cisco Discovery Protocol: A proprietary Cisco protocol used to
exchange neighbor information between two directly connected Cisco
devices
An industry standard cabling specification used by VC for network
connectivity using 10 Gbit Ethernet over copper
The network and associated network devices external to the VC domain
A non-visible port that interconnects two horizontally adjacent VC-Enet
modules
Link Aggregation Control Protocol: An 802.3ad Link Aggregation
configuration frame exchanged between two devices that form a port
trunk\channel between them
Link Aggregation Group. 802.3ad terminology for a port trunk\channel
group
Link Layer Discovery Protocol. An IEEE protocol that provides CDP-like
functionality
A single physical port or a single port channel. Both represent a single
communication path.
LAN on Motherboard. A NIC embedded on the system board of a
server.
A group of two or more ports that operate as a single logical port and
single logical path for the purposes of load balancing. 802.3ad and
EtherChannel are both port trunking technologies
A very broad term associated with network traffic classification,
prioritization, queuing, marking, etc
An object within the Virtual Connect domain that is assigned to a server
bay and contains the server’s LAN and SAN connectivity settings (vNet
assignments, managed MAC addresses & WWNs, server boot
parameters, PXE configuration, and fiber channel boot parameters).
A hot-pluggable modular 1 Gbit port. Pluggable modules allow for
electrical or optical connectivity at 1 Gbit speeds
The term used by Virtual Connect to configure one or more VC uplinks as
a VLAN trunk connected to a switch employing IEEE 802.1Q VLAN
trunking
A link that directly connects two VC ports from the same VC domain
Virtual Connect: Broad term used to reference all the Virtual Connect
components as a whole – Ethernet & Fiber Channel modules and Virtual
Connect Manager.
A Virtual Connect Ethernet module
A Virtual Connect Fiber Channel module
Virtual Connect Manager: The user interface, web or CLI, used to
manage a Virtual Connect domain
All VC Fiber Channel modules and all stacked VC-Enet modules within
the same enclosure and under the control of the same Virtual Connect
Manager
A logical grouping of VC ports (downlinks or downlinks & uplinks) that
comprise a single layer 2 network or broadcast domain.
Non-visible ports that are directly connected to server NIC ports through
the enclosure midplane.
Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager: A separate software product that
extends management to as many as 100 VC domains from a single
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VC Uplink
VLAN Trunk
XFP
console.
Visible ports on the VC-Enet module faceplate that provide external
connectivity for the enclosure.
A single physical port or a single port channel with VLAN tagging
enabled. Used to provide connectivity to one or more VLANs over the
same logical path.
A hot-pluggable modular 10 Gbit port. Pluggable modules allow for
electrical or optical connectivity at 10 Gbit speeds
HP BladeSystem Architecture Overview
The HP BladeSystem c-Class system includes an enclosure, server blades, storage blades, PCI
expansion blade, interconnect modules (switches, Virtual Connect, and pass-thru modules), a
NonStop signal midplane that connects blades to the interconnect modules, a shared power
backplane, power supplies, fans, front LCD screen, and enclosure management controllers
(Onboard Administrator modules). The BladeSystem c-Class uses redundant and hot-pluggable
components extensively to provide maximum uptime to the enclosure. Figure 1 shows the c7000
implementation of the architecture.
The HP BladeSystem architecture is available in two enclosure form factors: the c7000 and the
c3000. The HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure will accommodate up to 16 half-height server or other
device blades, or up to eight full-height server blades, or a combination of the two blade form
factors. The c7000 also provides eight rear bays for interconnect modules. The HP BladeSystem
c3000 enclosure will accommodate up to 8 half-height server or other device blades, or up to 4 fullheight server blades, or a combination of the two blade form factors. The c3000 also provides four
rear bays for interconnect modules.
Optional mezzanine cards within the server blades provide network connectivity to the interconnect
modules. The connections between server blades and the network fabric can be fully redundant.
Customers install their choice of mezzanine cards in the mezzanine slots inside the blades, and
interconnect modules in the interconnect bays at the rear of the enclosure to create their network
fabric connectivity. Mezzanine card options include Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and Infiniband.
However, Fibre Channel and Infiniband are outside the scope of this paper.
The enclosure houses either one or two Onboard Administrator modules. Onboard Administrator
provides enclosure-base management and intelligence throughout the infrastructure to monitor
power and thermal conditions, ensure hardware configurations are correct, and simplify network
configuration. The Insight Display panel on the front of the enclosure simplifies configuration and
maintenance. Customers have the option of installing a second Onboard Administrator module that
acts as a completely redundant controller in an active-standby mode.
The c7000 enclosure can use either single-phase or three-phase power inputs and can hold up to six
2250 W power supplies. The power supplies connect to a passive power backplane that distributes
the power to all the components in a shared manner.
To cool the enclosure, HP designed a fan known as the Active Cool fan. The c7000 enclosure can
hold up to ten hot-pluggable Active Cool fans. The Active Cool fans are designed for high
efficiency and performance to provide redundant cooling across the enclosure as well as providing
ample capacity for future cooling needs.
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Figure 1. Overview of c7000 Enclosure Components
c-Class Cabling Layout
The c-Class server blades use various mezzanine cards to connect to different network fabrics
through the interconnect bays at the rear of the enclosure. These fabrics include Ethernet, Fiber
Channel, Infiniband, etc. The mezzanine cards are inserted in the mezzanine slots in the blade
server. These mezzanine slots (M1, M2, & M3 in Figure 2 below) are basically PCI-e expansion slots
equivalent to those found in non-bladed hardware such as tower and rack-mounted servers. The
connections between the multiple types of mezzanine cards on the server blades are hard-wired
through the NonStop signal midplane to specific interconnect bays at the rear of the enclosure (see
Figure 2).
All c-Class blade servers have at least two onboard (LOM) NIC ports. These LOM ports, two for halfheight servers (NIC 1 & NIC 2) and four for full-height servers (NIC 1 thru NIC4), are connected to
interconnect bays 1 & 2 (see Figure 2). Since Ethernet LOM ports are the only type network fabric
that are ever connected to interconnect bays 1 & 2, the only type of interconnect module that can
be used in bays 1 & 2 are Ethernet modules (switches, pass-through, or Virtual Connect).
For half-height servers, mezzanine slot 1 (M1) provides up to two Ethernet ports connected to
interconnect bays 3 & 4. Mezzanine slot 2 (M2) provides up to four Ethernet ports connected to
interconnect bays 5 thru 8. The maximum configuration for a half-height server, if using all Ethernet,
is a total of eight NICs where each NIC port is connected to one of the eight interconnect bays.
For full-height servers, mezzanine slot 1 (M1) provides up to four Ethernet ports connected to
interconnect bays 3 & 4. Mezzanine slot 2 (M2) provides up to four Ethernet ports connected to
interconnect bays 5 thru 8. Mezzanine slot 3 (M3) also provides up to four Ethernet ports which are
also connected to interconnect bays 5 thru 8. The maximum configuration for a full-height server, if
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using all Ethernet, is a total of 16 NICs, where two NIC ports are connected to each of the eight
interconnect bays.
Mezzanine slots may be populated with I/O technologies other than Ethernet (such as Fibre Channel
or InfiniBand), but this paper focuses primarily on Ethernet.
Figure 2. Half-height and Full-height Blade Server I/O Mappings to Interconnect Bays for a c7000 Enclosure
Half-Height Server in a c7000 enclosure
Server Bays
Interconnect Bays
Blade
NIC1
1
M1
M2
1/2
NIC2
1
2
3/4
1
2
3
4
5/6
Blade
9
NIC1
M2
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
7/8
1/2
NIC2
M1
1
1
2
3/4
1
2
3
4
5/6
7/8
Full-Height Server in a c7000 enclosure
Server Bays
Interconnect Bays
Blade
NIC1
1
1/2
NIC2
1
2
3
4
3/4
M1
1
2
3
4
5/6
M2
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
7/8
1/2
NIC3
1
NIC4
3/4
M3
1
2
3
4
V
7/8
(See Appendix B for c3000 enclosure port mapping)
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c-Class Ethernet Interconnect Options
The BladeSystem c7000 Enclosure offers a variety of interconnect options, including pass-thru
modules, Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches, Virtual Connect modules, and high-bandwidth
fabrics such as InfiniBand. The HP website (www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/interconnects) contains
the most up-to-date information about the available c-Class interconnect modules.
Ethernet Switches from Cisco and Blade Network Technologies (BNT) offer customers a traditional
approach to administering the network. The primary value in blade switches is cable consolidation
through high-speed uplinks and the shared blade power and cooling infrastructure.
Available Blade Switch Options:
• Cisco Catalyst Blade Switch 3020
• HP GbE2c Ethernet Blade Switch
• HP GbE2c Layer 2/3 Ethernet Blade Switch
• HP 1:10Gb Ethernet BL-c Switch
• HP 10Gb Ethernet BL-c Switch
Ethernet pass-thru modules are also available when direct one-to-one connections between servers
and the LAN is required. HP Ethernet Pass-Thru Modules provide 16-port, transparent, 1:1 port
connectivity between the server and an external Ethernet switch.
Finally, Virtual Connect is also an option for customers for use in place of c-Class Ethernet switches or
Ethernet pass-thru modules.
HP Virtual Connect Technology
Overview
Virtual Connect is a set of interconnect modules and embedded software for HP BladeSystem cClass enclosures that simplifies the setup and administration of server connections. The HP Virtual
Connect portfolio includes the HP 1/10Gb Virtual Connect Ethernet Module for c-Class BladeSystem,
the HP 1/10Gb-F Virtual Connect Ethernet Module for c-Class BladeSystem, and the HP 4Gb Virtual
Connect Fibre Channel Module for c-Class BladeSystem. All modules are managed with the
embedded HP Virtual Connect Manager or the optional Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager
(VCEM). Virtual Connect implements server edge virtualization so that server administrators can
upgrade, replace, or move server blades within their enclosures without changes being visible to the
external LAN and SAN environments.
The Virtual Connect Manager is embedded on the HP 1/10Gb Virtual Connect Ethernet Module and
the HP 1/10Gb-F Virtual Connect Ethernet Module for c- Class BladeSystem and is accessed by
Administrators through web links provided by the Onboard Administrator, through direct connection
to the embedded Virtual Connect Manager web server, through a serial connection through the
OA for CLI access, or through an SSH session for CLI access to the Virtual Connect Manager.
A Virtual Connect Domain, configured using the Virtual Connect Manager, includes a single HP cClass BladeSystem enclosure, all installed Virtual Connect modules and a total of 16 server bays that
can be populated with a mixture of server and or storage blades. Within the VC domain, any server
blade can be configured to access any LAN or SAN connected to a VC module, and a server
blade can be used as a spare for any server blade within the same VC domain.
By stacking (cabling) the Ethernet modules within the VC domain, every server blade in the domain
can be configured to access any external network connection. Fibre Channel modules (VC-FC)
within different I/O bays are each connected directly to individual FC SAN fabrics. With this
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configuration, the Virtual Connect Manager can deploy and move a server profile to any server
bay within the Virtual Connect domain without the need to change external LAN or SAN
configurations.
The Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager is a separate software product that extends management
to as many as 100 VC domains from a single console, provides a single pool of managed MAC
Addresses and World Wide Names, enables movement of Virtual Connect server profiles from one
VC Domain to another, and enables the automatic failover of Virtual Connect server profiles from
one server bay to another. This paper references the embedded Virtual Connect Manager, and not
Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager, in its explanations and examples. More information on VCEM is
available at:http://h18013.www1.hp.com/products/blades/components/ethernet/vcem/index.html
Virtual Connect Components
There are three key components that make up the Virtual Connect infrastructure. Two components
are hardware and one component is software. The three key components are Virtual Connect
Ethernet modules, Virtual Connect Fibre Channel modules, Virtual Connect Manager (VCM), and
the optional Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager (VCEM).
There are two available Virtual Connect Ethernet Modules:
• HP 1/10Gb Virtual Connect Ethernet Module
o 16 x 1Gb downlinks (midplane)
o 1 x 10Gb cross-connect (CX-4)
o 2 x 10Gb copper uplinks (CX-4)
o 8 x 1Gb (1000/100/10) copper uplinks
(RJ-45)
•
HP 1/10Gb-F Virtual Connect Ethernet Module
o 16 x 1Gb downlinks (midplane)
o 1 x 10Gb cross-connect (CX-4)
o 1 x 10Gb copper uplink (CX-4)
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o 2 x 10Gb SR or LR fiber uplinks (XFP)
o 2 x 1Gb fiber uplinks (SFP)
o 4 x 1Gb (1000/100/10)copper uplinks (RJ-45)
The purpose of the Virtual Connect Manager (VCM) is to function as the single point of
administration for the Virtual Connect Domain. This means that all aspects of configuring,
managing, and monitoring the Virtual Connect Domain and all VC Ethernet and Fiber Channel
modules is provided by VCM.
VCM runs embedded on either the HP 1/10Gb or the HP 1/10Gb-F Ethernet modules when installed
in interconnect bay 1 or 2. VCM utilizes its own CPU, memory, and flash resources onboard the VC
Ethernet modules.
VCM runs in High Availability mode when Virtual Connect Ethernet modules are installed in both
interconnect bays 1 and 2. By default, the Virtual Connect Ethernet module in interconnect bay 1
will be the active VCM and the Virtual Connect Ethernet module in interconnect bay 2 will be the
standby VCM. The Virtual Connect Domain configuration is check pointed from the active VCM to
the standby whenever configuration changes are made. In this way, if the Virtual Connect Ethernet
module functioning as the active VCM fails, the standby Ethernet module can assume the role of
active VCM without loss of Virtual Connect Domain configuration settings.
Note:
Even though VCM is only active on a single Virtual Connect Ethernet module at one time, this has
nothing to do with the Ethernet connectivity functionality provided by the Virtual Connect Ethernet
modules. All Virtual Connect modules in the domain are functionally active at all times and every
port on every Virtual Connect module can be configured to actively carry network traffic at the
same time.
Virtual Connect Technical Specifications
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
128-Gbps bridging fabric
2 Mb of dynamic memory (bridging buffer) with head-of-line blocking prevention
Line rate forwarding for all packet sizes and all conditions
Capacity of 16384 MAC addresses
Capacity of 1024 IGMP groups and bridging entries
Maximum transmission units up to 9216 bytes (jumbo frames)
Average single-module latency 3.8us at 64-byte frames
Average single-module latency 3.8us at 1518-byte frames
Virtual Connect Manager User Interfaces
Virtual Connect Manager (VCM) provides three user interfaces for managing and monitoring the
Virtual Connect Domain – Web, SSH CLI, and SNMP.
The Web and SSH CLI interfaces provide nearly an identical set of features used to manage the
Virtual Connect Domain. For more information on the specifics of these interfaces, please consult
the Virtual Connect Users Guide (www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/documentation).
VC’s SNMP implementation allows the administrator to monitor the Virtual Connect domain and
associated modules. The SNMP configuration is controlled by the Virtual Connect Manager and
applies to all modules in the VC domain. The SNMP agent software module residing on a primary
module provides access to managed information using SNMP protocol. The managed information is
presented as a hierarchical database called a MIB. Each element of the managed information is
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identified by a unique identifier called Object ID. Basic SNMP support is provided for VC-Enet
modules.
The VC-Enet modules support the applicable groups of the following SNMP MIBs:
• Compaq Host MIB
• Compaq System Info MIB
• RFC 3418 SNMPv2-MIB
• RFC 2863 IF-MIB
• RFC 4188 BRIDGE-MIB
The VC-Enet modules support the following SNMP traps:
• cpqHoSWRunningStatusChangeTrap from CPQ-HOST MIB
• coldStart trapfrom SNMPv2-MIB
Virtual Connect Port Descriptions
The three types of ports are VC downlinks, VC uplinks, and internal cross-connects:
• VC Downlinks
o Non-visible ports that are directly connected to server NIC ports through the
enclosure midplane.
o Only role is to provide connectivity to directly connected blade server NICs
• VC Uplinks
o Visible ports on the VC-Enet module faceplate that provide external connectivity for
the VC domain.
o Roles include stacking link, network analyzer port (see Port Monitoring), normal mode
(providing external connectivity for one or more vNets or Shared Uplink Sets)
• Internal cross-connects
o A non-visible port that interconnects two horizontally adjacent VC-Enet modules
o Only role is to function as a stacking link
Overview of Virtual Connect Ethernet Connectivity
While Virtual Connect provides many features, its primary purpose is to provide internal and external
network connectivity for blade servers in a c-Class enclosure. For Ethernet, Virtual Connect
accomplishes this purpose by bridging together, at layer 2, VC downlink ports (server NICs) with
other VC downlink ports and with VC uplink ports connected to an external switched network.
Virtual Connect provides the administrator with control over which uplinks and which downlinks are
assigned to the same layer 2 network through the use of Virtual Connect Networks (vNets or Shared
Uplink Sets).
A VC Administrator defines vNets and, optionally, assigns VC uplinks to the vNets to provide external
network connectivity. Once the vNets are defined, they are available for the Server Administrator to
assign to server NIC ports. When a Server Admin moves a server profile from one server bay to
another, the vNet assignments and, if used, managed MAC addresses (see section entitled “VC
Managed MAC Addresses) are moved with the profile. This allows the server administrator to easily
move the “Ethernet connectivity profile” for a server from one bay to another without requiring the
assistance of the Network Administrator.
A vNet can be used to bridge together multiple VC downlinks for an internal-to-the-enclosure-only
network or a vNet can be used to bridge together one or more VC downlinks with one or more VC
uplinks to provide external network connectivity for the blade servers in the enclosure. A vNet
cannot be used to bridge together multiple VC uplinks to provide connectivity between two
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external devices or to provide connectivity between two external networks. Virtual Connect is not,
and can not be configured as, a transit device. In other words, VC can only provide internal
connectivity between blade servers and\or VC can provide external connectivity to blade servers
but Virtual Connect cannot provide connectivity between two external devices.
The basic definition of a Virtual Connect Network, or vNet, is a logical grouping of VC ports
(downlinks or downlinks & uplinks) that comprise a single layer 2 network or broadcast domain. A
vNet is analogous to a vSwitch, as used by VMware technology (see “Comparing VC and VMware
Networking Technology” for an in-depth comparison). A vNet does not always represent a one-toone correlation with a VLAN, as can be seen in the next section entitled “Virtual Connect Ethernet
Connectivity Designs”.
Server NIC ports assigned to the same vNet can communicate directly (at layer 2) without having to
leave the enclosure. In the figure below, Server Blade 1 and Server Blade 2 can communicate with
each other within the VC Domain. Also, server NIC ports in different vNets are isolated (at layer 2) by
Virtual Connect from other server NIC ports. Server Blade 16 is isolated from Server Blades 1 thru 3.
Figure 3. VC Domain Showing Various Uses of vNets
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
Note:
Layer 2 connectivity is defined as any two devices that can communicate with each other by
directly exchanging Ethernet frames, carrying any protocol, without traversing a router or layer 3
switch. A layer 2 network could also be defined as a “broadcast domain”. For example, when a
frame is broadcast within a vNet, only ports assigned to the vNet will receive the broadcast frame
(unless an external device bridges multiple vNets together).
VC Uplink Fault Tolerance
Virtual Connect can be configured to provide both fault tolerance and load balancing for Virtual
Connect Networks and the associated server NIC ports. An Administrator can choose whether a
vNet operates in fault tolerance only mode by setting the vNet’s connection mode to “Failover” or
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the Administrator can choose fault tolerance plus load balancing by setting the vNet’s connection
mode to “Auto”.
When an administrator assigns multiple VC uplinks to the same vNet, VC’s default behavior
(connection mode ‘auto’) for a vNet (or Shared Uplink Set) is to attempt to negotiate a port
channel (EtherChannel) using 802.3ad Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP).
If LACP
negotiation fails, the vNet operates in fault tolerance mode only. Similar to the operation of NIC
Teaming, Virtual Connect will utilize one VC uplink port as the active port and all other VC uplink
ports will be in standby (blocking) mode. This behavior is part of the loop prevent mechanism of VC
(see section entitled “Virtual Connect’s Loop Prevention Technology”). See figure below as an
example.
Figure 4. A vNet Configured for Fault Tolerance only
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
An administrator can choose to manually configure a vNet (or Shared Uplink Set) for only fault
tolerance by setting the vNet’s connection mode to ‘failover’. When a vNet’s connection mode is
set to ‘failover’, the LACP protocol is disabled for the vNet and the administrator can change the
VC uplink “Port Role” to “Primary” or “Secondary”. This port role setting allows the administrator to
manually choose which VC uplink should be the preferred active uplink.
Note:
For a sample configuration showing VC uplinks connected to a Cisco switch, see the section below
entitled “Sample Virtual Connect Ethernet and Cisco Configurations”
A vNet (or Shared Uplink Set) will failover from one uplink to another whenever the active uplink loses
link. As soon as VC detects link loss on the active uplink, VC will choose a new active uplink from the
group of available standby uplinks also assigned to the same vNet. This process of choosing a new
active uplink typically occurs in under five seconds. If the upstream Cisco switch has been properly
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configured on all the uplinks associated with the vNet, the server connectivity should be restored in
under five seconds. If the previous active uplink has it’s link restored, VC will automatically failback
to it. As long as the external Cisco switch port has been properly configured by enabling PortFast,
connectivity to servers should be restored in under five seconds.
Virtual Connect uses a mechanism called “Fast MAC Cache Failover” to proactively update the
CAM tables on the upstream Cisco switch ports. Whenever a vNet fails over or fails back from one
uplink to another, this mechanism will transmit a single frame on the new active uplink for every
server MAC address that is active within the VC domain. Fast MAC Cache Failover enables VC to
immediately update the external Cisco infrastructure with the new location of the active VC uplink
for a particular vNet. Fast MAC Cache Failover is very similar to the CAM table update process used
by Link-State Tracking on Cisco switches.
VC Uplink Load Balancing
Virtual Connect provides load balancing (and fault tolerance) across multiple VC uplinks on the
same physical VC-Enet module by means of IEEE 802.3ad port trunking or port channeling
(EtherChannel) using the Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP). The vNet (or Shared Uplink Set)
must have its “connection mode” set to “auto” (default) and not in mode “failover”.
If the external switch is a Cisco switch, the ports in the EtherChannel must be set to either “mode
active” or “mode passive”. Both of these modes on the Cisco switch enable the use of 802.3ad
LACP (the only port channeling protocol VC supports). VC does not support port channeling with
Cisco switch ports when set to “mode on”, “mode desirable” or “mode auto”.
Note:
An EtherChannel can only be formed between VC and a Cisco switch if the VC vNet is set to
connection mode “Auto” and the Cisco switch’s channel-group is set to either “mode active” or
“mode passive”.
There are four types of scenarios for port trunking\channeling with Virtual Connect Uplink Ports:
• Same VC Module, Same External Switch, Same Port Channel Group
When VC uplinks from the same physical VC-Enet module are assigned to the same vNet (or
Shared Uplink Set) and are connected to ports on the same external Cisco switch that are
assigned to the same port channel group and have the LACP protocol enabled, then VC will
automatically form a single port channel.
• Same VC Module, Same External Switch, Different Port Channel Groups
When VC uplinks from the same physical VC-Enet module are assigned to the same vNet (or
Shared Uplink Set) and are connected to ports on the same external Cisco switch that are
assigned to different port channel groups and have the LACP protocol enabled, then VC
may automatically form more than one port channel.
• Same VC Module, Different External Switches
When VC uplinks from the same physical VC-Enet module are assigned to the same vNet (or
Shared Uplink Set) and are connected to ports on different external Cisco switches that are
assigned to port channel groups and have the LACP protocol enabled, then VC may
automatically form more than one port channel.
• Different VC Module, Same or Different External Switches
When VC uplinks from different physical VC-Enet modules are assigned to the same vNet (or
Shared Uplink Set) and are connected to ports on the same (or different) external Cisco
switch that are assigned to a port channel group and have the LACP protocol enabled,
then VC may automatically form more than one port channel.
As described above, VC’s default behavior (connection mode ‘auto’) for a vNet is to attempt to
negotiate a port channel (EtherChannel) using 802.3ad Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP). If
LACP negotiation is successful for one or more sets of VC uplink ports, a port channel is formed
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between the VC Ethernet module and the external switch. A vNet may form more than one port
channel with an external switch or switches. Each port channel behaves as a single logical path.
Like in the previous section describing simple fault tolerance, a vNet can only have one active
logical path at any given time. As such, a vNet with multiple port channels will only use one port
channel as the active logical path and all other port channels in the same vNet will be in standby
mode. See the figure below as an example.
Figure 5. A vNet Utilizing Port Channeling for Load Balancing and Fault Tolerance
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
Note:
Port channels can only form when VC uplink ports on the same physical VC Ethernet module are
connected to the same external switch. VC does not support port channels that span across
different VC Ethernet modules.
Port Channeling (802.3ad) Load Balancing Algorithm
VC-Enet’s implementation of port channeling, or EtherChannel, uses a load balancing algorithm for
the purpose of distributing frames across the physical ports that make up the port channel. The
biggest concern in distributing frames across multiple physical ports is “frame ordering”. For any
particular conversation between two network devices (e.g. FTP transfer, telnet session, etc.), it is
optimal that the network infrastructure deliver the frames in the order in which the transmitter
transmitted them. This minimizes frame reordering on the receivers end. Also, while TCP provides
header information for putting frames back into the correct order, other protocols, such as UDP, do
not. Therefore, frame ordering is critical. This means that any load balancing algorithm used by port
channeling must load balance frames but also maintain frame ordering. This is accomplished by
using an algorithm that makes the same load balancing decision for frames from the same
conversation.
Typical EtherChannel Load Balancing Algorithms (from worst to best):
• Source MAC address
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•
•
•
•
•
•
Identifies all conversations coming from the same MAC address and load balances them
all down a single link in the port channel
Destination MAC address
Identifies all conversations destined for the same MAC address and load balances them
all down a single link in the port channel
Source IP address
Identifies all conversations coming from the same IP address and load balances them all
down a single link in the port channel
Destination IP address
Identifies all conversations destined for the same IP address and load balances them all
down a single link in the port channel
Source and Destination MAC address
Identifies all conversations between two MAC addresses and load balances them all
down a single link in the port channel
Source and Destination IP address
Identifies all conversations between two IP addresses and load balances them all down
a single link in the port channel
Source and Destination IP address plus TCP or UDP ports (socket)
Identifies specific conversations between two IP addresses and may load balance them
down different links in the port channel
Virtual Connect utilizes one of the last three algorithms depending on the type of frame being load
balanced.
For unicast frames, VC load balances using the socket (best method above) if it has a TCP or UDP
header, by using the source and destination IP address if it is an IP frame without a TCP or UDP
header, or by using the source and destination MAC address if it is not an IP frame.
Broadcast, multicast, and unknown unicast (destination lookup failure) frames are handled slightly
differently than unicast frames. They are load balanced so VC does not always send these frames
down the first port in the channel. The algorithm used to determine the port in the channel is based
on the source and destination MAC addresses, the source port channel number (if source is a port
channel) and/or module ID plus port number (if source is a regular port and not a port channel).
Since VC automatically load balances traffic across the ports in a port channel using the most
conversation-specific information available (TCP/UPD, then IP, then MAC), VC does not provide a
user configurable setting for this feature. Also, the load balancing algorithm does not have to
match on both sides of the same port channel. In other words, VC can use one algorithm while the
directly connected Cisco switch uses a different algorithm. Each side can implement its own
algorithm without affecting connectivity. As a result, while HP advises that the directly connect
Cisco switch utilize a load balancing algorithm based on source-destination IP plus TCP\UDP port, it
is not a requirement. If the external Cisco switch uses an algorithm based on source-destination
MAC or source-destination IP address, it will also work with Virtual Connect.
Note:
For a sample configuration showing VC uplinks connected to a Cisco switch configured for
EtherChannel, see the section below entitled “Sample Virtual Connect Ethernet and Cisco
Configurations”
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VC Uplinks and VLAN Trunking
Virtual Connect supports VLAN tagging (trunking) on VC uplinks using IEEE 802.1Q and can be
configured to support VLAN tagging on blade server NIC ports.
VC Uplinks can operate in one of three modes:
• VLAN trunking mode
o Shared Uplink Set (SUS) plus tagging on external switch port
o When a VC uplink is a member of a SUS and is connected to a VLAN trunk port on an
external switch, it operates as a VLAN trunk port.
o Multiple vNets, multiple VLANs
o No tagging on server NIC ports
o Example: VC Uplink 3 in figure below
• VLAN tunneling mode
o single vNet plus tagging on external switch port
o When a VC uplink is a member of a single vNet and is connected to a VLAN trunk
port on an external switch, it operates in a mode that is equivalent to ‘dot1qtunnel’
mode on a Cisco switch.
o Single vNet, multiple VLANs
o Tagging on server NIC ports
o Example: VC Uplink 2 in figure below
• Access mode
o single vNet plus no tagging on external switch port
o When a VC uplink is a member of a single vNet and is connected to an external
switch port in access mode, it operates in a mode that is equivalent to ‘access’
mode on a Cisco switch.
o Single vNet, single VLAN
o No tagging on server NIC Ports
o Example: VC Uplink 1 in figure below
When VC is configured to support VLAN tagging on a VC uplink (VLAN trunking mode), this means
that VC is interpreting (i.e. removing and inserting tags, classifying the frame’s vNet membership
based on tag info) the tag and is a termination point for the tag (i.e. the servers do not see the
VLAN tag). This is accomplished on VC by using “Shared Uplink Sets”, or SUS for short. A SUS is one or
more VC uplinks that are configured as VLAN trunks (tagging) and correlate external VLANs to
specific vNets within the VC Domain. The Administrator creates the SUS, adds one or more VC
uplinks, defines which VLAN tags are carried on the VC uplinks and then provides a vNet name
(ASCII) for each of the VLANs defined. This means that the uplink ports within the SUS provide
external connectivity for multiple vNets. In other words, one or more vNets share a set of uplinks for
external network connectivity. This is why the term “Shared Uplink Sets” is used. See VC Uplink 3 in
the figure below.
When VC uplink ports are assigned to a single vNet and connected to an external switch port in
VLAN trunking mode, the VC uplink and vNet operate in VLAN\CoS tunneling mode or dot1qtunnel
mode by default. In other words, the vNet keeps all frames within the same layer 2 domain (vNet),
however, VC allows the frames to carry different VLAN tags from the external network all the way to
the server NIC ports and vice versa. See VC Uplink 2 in the figure below. When VC uplink ports are
assigned to a single vNet and connected to an external switch port in access mode, the VC uplink
and vNet operate in access mode only carries untagged frames for a single VLAN (the access VLAN
on the switch). See VC Uplink 1 in the figure below. In other words, depending on the configuration
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of the external switch port, a single vNet could represent a single VLAN or a single vNet could
represent multiple VLANs.
Figure 6. VLAN Tagging Examples
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
Explanation of the Figure Above:
• VC Uplink 3 is assigned to a Shared Uplink Set (SUS) and is tagged with VLANs 2 thru 4.
o The external switch port is a trunk port carrying VLANs 2 thru 4
o VLAN 2 is represented by vNet-PROD2-A, VLAN 3 is represented by vNet-PROD3, and
VLAN 4 is represented by vNet-PROD4.
• VC Uplink 2 is assigned to vNet_ESX and is operating in 802.1Q tunneling mode.
o The external switch port is a trunk port carrying VLANs 2 thru 4.
o vNet_ESX is a single vNet that represents VLANs 2 thru 4.
• VC Uplink 1 is assigned to vNet-PROD2-B and is operating in access mode.
o The external switch port is an access port assigned to VLAN 2.
o vNet-PROD2-B represents a vNet operating in ‘acccess mode’ for external VLAN 2.
•
•
•
•
NIC 1 on both Server 1 and Server 2 have VLAN tagging configured on the server. On both
servers, NIC 1 represents VLANs 2 thru 4.
All other NICs are not using VLAN tagging. All of these NICs are connected to a single VLAN
(see color for VLAN association).
NIC 1 on Server 1 can talk directly to NIC 1 on Server 2 without leaving the VC Domain.
In order for NIC 2 on Server 1 to talk to NIC 2 on Server 2, the frames must first exit the VC
Domain via VC uplink 1, transit the external switch on VLAN 2, and then re-enter the VC
Domain on VC uplink 3.
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Shared Uplink Sets manage uplink redundancy the same as individual vNets do. In other words,
when multiple uplinks are assigned to a Shared Uplink Set, the uplinks can operate in failover-only
mode or they can operate in port channeling (EtherChannel) mode. Also, all VLANs and associated
vNets within a single Shared Uplink Set use the same active uplink or same active port channel.
Note:
For a sample configuration showing VC uplinks connected to a Cisco switch configured for VLAN
trunking, see the section below entitled “Sample Virtual Connect Ethernet and Cisco
Configurations”. The Cisco switch commands are the same for VC in VLAN Trunking mode or VC in
VLAN Tunneling mode.
Unsupported Cisco VLAN Protocols
There are two proprietary Cisco VLAN protocols that Virtual Connect does not support – VTP and
DTP.
VTP, or VLAN Trunking Protocol, is a Cisco proprietary protocol used to manage a single VLAN
database across multiple switches within the same domain. Since VC is not a Cisco device, VC
does not support VTP. As such, there is no possibility that an improperly configured VC Domain can
cause harm to the VTP Domain. Since VC does not support VTP, an administrator is required to add
every VLAN that needs to be trunked on a VC uplink port.
DTP, or Dynamic Trunking Protocol, is a Cisco proprietary protocol used for automating the VLAN
trunking configuration between a pair of directly connected Cisco ports. With DTP enabled, one
Cisco switch port can be configured for VLAN trunking and the partner switch port can
automatically configure its VLAN trunking configuration to match. Since VC is not a Cisco device,
VC does not support DTP. HP recommends that the Administrator disable DTP on the directly
connected Cisco switch ports using the command “switchport nonegotiate”.
Virtual Connect and NIC Teaming
Virtual Connect supports NIC Teaming (or NIC bonding) on server NIC ports. For Windows on x86, VC
supports Network Fault Tolerance (NFT) and Transmit Load Balancing (TLB) but does not support
Switch-assisted Load Balancing (SLB). For Windows on Integrity, VC supports Network Fault Tolerance
(NFT), Transmit Load Balancing (TLB), and static Dual Channel with only two NIC ports in the team,
but does not support Switch-assisted Load Balancing (SLB). For Linux, VC supports any NIC bonding
type that does not require 802.3ad (static or dynamic using LACP) on the server NIC ports.
Virtual Connect also supports a feature called “SmartLink” that is enabled on vNets used by servers
with NIC Teaming\bonding enabled. The SmartLink feature will disable the VC downlinks (server NIC
ports) whenever all the VC uplinks for the associated vNet are unplugged. Basically, the SmartLink
feature propagates a link-down event of a vNet’s uplinks to the server NICs in the team. This allows
the NIC Teaming software to failover from one vNet (with all failed uplinks) to another vNet with
functional uplinks. SmartLink is only used in NIC Teaming configurations when the NIC ports in the
Team are connected to different vNets (see “Figure 12. VC Domain Showing Advanced Usage of
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vNets and EtherChannel” for an example). HP recommends that SmartLink only be enabled on a
vNet if ALL server NIC ports assigned to the vNet are using NIC Teaming and are connected to at
least one other vNet.
For additional information on NIC Teaming for Windows, see link in the “Additional Resources”
section at the end of this paper.
Virtual Connect and Cisco Terminology Comparison
In addition to using many traditional networking terms, Virtual Connect also introduces some new
networking terminology. Some new terms are needed to properly describe VC’s functionality since
VC represents a new way of interconnecting blade servers to the core network. To aide in quickly
understanding these Virtual Connect networking terms, the following table compares VC and Cisco
networking terms.
Table 1. Virtual Connect and Cisco Port Trunking and VLAN Trunking Terminology Comparison
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Cisco Configuration Guidelines for VC Uplink Ports
VLAN Tagged VC Uplink (Shared Uplink Set) Configuration Guidelines:
Action
• Set VLAN encapsulation to 802.1Q
• Set the switch port mode to trunk
• Enable PortFast
• Disable DTP
• Enable autonegotiation
•
Enable LLDP
•
-Optional- Enable BPDUGuard
Command
“switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q”
“switchport mode trunk”
“spanning-tree portfast trunk”
“switchport nonegotiate”
“speed auto” and “duplex auto” (if
applicable)
“lldp transmit” and “lldp receive” (if
supported)
“spanning-tree bpduguard enable”
Untagged VC Uplink (regular VC Network\vNet) Configuration Guidelines:
Action
• Set the Cisco switch port mode to
access
• Enable PortFast
• Disable DTP
• Enable autonegotiation
•
Enable LLDP
•
-Optional- Enable BPDUGuard
Command
“switchport mode access”
“spanning-tree portfast”
“switchport nonegotiate”
“speed auto” and “duplex auto” (if
applicable)
“lldp transmit” and “lldp receive” (if
supported)
“spanning-tree bpduguard enable”
Port Channeling Configuration Guidelines:
Action
Command
• Set the interface channel protocol
“channel-protocol LACP”
to LACP
• Assign interface to a port channel
“channel-group X mode active”
(where X is the same for all Cisco
Or
ports in the same group) and
“channel-group X mode passive”
enable LACP
If the port channel is untagged (access mode), refer to the configuration guidelines
above for a Untagged VC uplink. Make sure to apply commands to the Port Channel
interface and not just the port interfaces.
If the port channel is tagged (VLAN trunk mode), refer to the configuration guidelines
above for a Tagged VC uplink. Make sure to apply commands to the Port Channel
interface and not just the port interfaces.
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Sample Virtual Connect Ethernet and Cisco Configurations
The four sample configurations below are provided to give an Administrator a general
understanding of how to configure their Cisco infrastructure when connected to Virtual Connect.
The sample configurations start simple and increase in complexity – basic fault tolerance, then VLAN
trunking, then port channeling, then port channeling plus VLAN trunking.
Sample Configuration 1: VC Uplinks Connected to Cisco Access Ports
The figure below shows a VC and Cisco simple fault tolerance scenario and the minimum
configuration required on the Cisco switch. The VC Uplinks are assigned to a vNet named
“VC_LAN_1” representing external VLAN 1. The vNet is set to connection mode “failover”. All server
NICs are untagged.
Figure 7. VC Uplinks Connected to Cisco Access Ports
External Cisco Switch Configuration:
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
description "VC1 Uplink 1"
switchport mode access
switchport access vlan 1
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/2
description "VC1 Uplink 2"
switchport mode access
switchport access vlan 1
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/3
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description "VC2 Uplink 1"
switchport mode access
switchport access vlan 1
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/4
description "VC2 Uplink 2"
switchport mode access
switchport access vlan 1
spanning-tree portfast
Sample Configuration 2: VC Uplinks Connected to Cisco VLAN Trunk Ports
The figure below shows a VC and Cisco VLAN Trunking scenario and the minimum configuration
required on the Cisco switch. The uplinks on VC-Enet module VC1 are assigned to a vNet named
“vNet_VLANTunnel1” that is functioning as a 802.1Q tunnel for external VLAN IDs 2 thru 4 to server 1
and 2 (both ESX servers using VLAN tagging on NIC 1). The uplinks on VC-Enet module VC2 are
assigned to a Shared Uplink Set and are VLAN Trunk ports. The Shared Uplink Set is configured with
VLAN IDs 2 thru 4 corresponding to vNets “vNet_VLAN2_B”, “vNet_VLAN3”, and “vNet_VLAN4”
respectively. Server 2 NIC 2 and all NICs on Servers 3 and 16 are untagged and assigned to single
VLANs from the Shared Uplink Set. In addition, the Shared Uplink Set and vNet_VLANTunnel1 both
have their connection mode set to “failover”.
Figure 8. VC Uplinks Connected to Cisco VLAN Trunk Ports
External Cisco Switch Configuration:
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
description "VC1 Uplink 1, Po1"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
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spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/2
description "VC1 Uplink 2, Po1"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/3
description "VC2 Uplink 1, Po2"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/4
description "VC2 Uplink 2, Po2"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
spanning-tree portfast trunk
Sample Configuration 3: VC Uplinks Connected to a Cisco EtherChannel
The figure below shows a VC and Cisco port channeling scenario and the minimum configuration
required on the Cisco switch. The VC Uplinks are assigned to a vNet named “VC_LAN_1”
representing external VLAN 1. The vNet is set to connection mode “auto”. All server NICs are
untagged.
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Figure 9. VC Uplinks Connected to two Cisco EtherChannels
External Cisco Switch Configuration:
interface Port-channel1
description "Port Channel to VC1"
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface Port-channel2
description "Port Channel to VC2"
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
description "VC1 Uplink 1, Po1"
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 1 mode active
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/2
description "VC1 Uplink 2, Po1"
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 1 mode active
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/3
description "VC2 Uplink 1, Po2"
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 2 mode active
spanning-tree portfast
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/4
description "VC2 Uplink 2, Po2"
channel-protocol lacp
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channel-group 2 mode active
spanning-tree portfast
Note:
The PortFast command in this scenario is only required under the Port Channel interfaces and
is not required on the physical interfaces. However, best practice is to include the PortFast
command under the physical interface just in case the port channel is dissolved and the
uplinks resort to simple failover mode.
Sample Configuration 4: VC Uplinks Connected to a Cisco EtherChannel VLAN Trunk
The figure below shows a VC and Cisco EtherChannel plus VLAN Trunking scenario and the minimum
configuration required on the Cisco switch. All four VC uplinks are assigned to a Shared Uplink Set
and are VLAN Trunk ports. The Shared Uplink Set is configured with VLAN IDs 2 thru 4 corresponding
to vNets “vNet_LAN2”, “vNet_LAN3”, and “vNet_LAN4” respectively. All server NICs are untagged
and assigned to single VLANs from the Shared Uplink Set. In addition, the Shared Uplink Set has it’s
connection mode set to “auto”.
Figure 10. VC Uplinks Connected to two Cisco EtherChannels that are also VLAN Trunks
External Cisco Switch Configuration:
interface Port-channel1
description "Port Channel to VC1"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface Port-channel2
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description "Port Channel to VC2"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/1
description "VC1 Uplink 1, Po1"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 1 mode active
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/2
description "VC1 Uplink 2, Po1"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 1 mode active
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/3
description "VC2 Uplink 1, Po2"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 2 mode active
spanning-tree portfast trunk
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/4
description "VC2 Uplink 2, Po2"
switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport trunk allowed vlan 2,3,4
switchport mode trunk
channel-protocol lacp
channel-group 2 mode active
spanning-tree portfast trunk
Note:
The “PortFast Trunk” command and the trunking commands in this scenario are only required
under the Port Channel interfaces and are not required on the physical interfaces. However,
best practice is to configure the physical interface the same as the port channel interface
just in case the port channel is dissolved and the uplinks resort to simple failover mode.
Advanced Virtual Connect Ethernet Designs
Virtual Connect’s implementation of vNets allows for administrators to implement creative solutions
to address many different complex networking designs. Typically, a vNet represents a single VLAN.
However, a single VLAN can be represented within a Virtual Connect Domain by multiple vNets. By
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using different vNets for the same VLAN, an administrator can control traffic flow on a per server NIC
basis. Below are some examples.
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #1
Referring to Figure 12, an administrator could use one vNet (VC_LAN_1_A) to couple a NIC on Server
1 and a NIC on Server 2 with a VC uplink that is connected to an external switch port assigned to
VLAN 1. In this case, VC_LAN_1_A represents VLAN 1 within the VC Domain. Both Server 1 and
Server 2 can talk directly with each other within VC_LAN_1_A, without leaving the VC Domain, and
both servers can talk to devices on VLAN 1 via the active VC uplink port. In addition, an
administrator could create another vNet (VC_LAN_1_B) and assign Server 3 to it. Virtual Connect
does not allow Server 3’s NIC port to directly communicate with any other NIC port within this VC
Domain since there are no other NIC ports assigned to VC_LAN_1_B. VC_LAN_1_B also represents
VLAN 1 within the VC Domain. Server 3 effectively has its own dedicated VC uplinks to reach VLAN
1. If the external switched network permits it, Server 3 can communicate with Server 1 and 2 by
exiting the VC Domain via the active uplink for VC_LAN_1_B, transiting the external Cisco switch,
and reentering the VC Domain on the active uplink for VC_LAN_1_A.
Figure 11. VC Domain Showing Various Uses of vNets
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #2
Another example of an advanced configuration using vNets is depicted in the figure below. In
diagram below, blade servers 1 thru 3 need to be connected to the external network with a 4 Gb
pipe. However, ports from different VC modules need to be used to eliminate single points of failure
(redundant VC modules). If two uplink ports from module 1 and two uplink ports from module 2 are
assigned to the same vNet, then VC forms two port channels (two logical paths). As was discussed
in the section entitled ‘VC Uplink Load Balancing”, VC must prevent loops on the network so only
one logical path will be active at a time. This means the server’s bandwidth is reduced from 4 Gb to
2 Gb since one whole channel is placed in standby mode.
To solve this problem, two vNets are used instead of one. Each vNet is assigned the uplink ports for a
single port channel. Since each vNet only has a single port channel, there is only one logical path
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for the vNet and the port channel will be active. As a result, both port channels are active. No loop
results since VC does not permit frames to jump between vNets. Since both port channels are
active, the VC Domain has a 4 Gb connection to VLAN 1 (2 port channels x 2 Gb each).
In order to utilize both port channels, the servers can be divided between the two vNets or each
server can be connected to both vNets using NIC Teaming (as the figure below depicts). When
each server is connected to both vNets using NIC Teaming, the load balancing algorithm in the NIC
Teaming driver controls how data frames are load balanced over each vNet.
Figure 12. VC Domain Showing Advanced Usage of vNets and EtherChannel
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #3
In this example, blade servers 1 and 16 need to be connected to different VLANs on the external
network with a 4 Gb pipe. However, ports from different VC modules need to be used to eliminate
single points of failure (redundant VC modules). If two uplink ports from module 1 and two uplink
ports from module 2 are assigned to the same vNet, then VC forms two port channels (two logical
paths). As was discussed in the section entitled ‘VC Uplink Load Balancing”, VC must prevent loops
on the network so only one logical path will be active at a time. This means the server’s bandwidth
is reduced from 4 Gb to 2 Gb since one whole port channel is placed in standby mode.
To solve this problem, two Shared Uplink Sets are used instead of one. Each Shared Uplink Set is
assigned the uplink ports for a single port channel. Since each Shared Uplink Set only has a single
port channel, there is only one logical path for the Shared Uplink Set and the port channel will be
active. As a result, both port channels are active. No loop results since VC does not permit frames
to jump between vNets in the same Shared Uplink Set nor does VC permit frames to jump between
vNets in different Shared Uplink Sets. Since both port channels are active, the VC Domain has a
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shared 4 Gb connection (2 port channels x 2 Gb each) to provide blade server connectivity to
VLAN 2 thru 4.
In order to utilize both port channels, the servers can be divided between the vNets associated with
each Shared Uplink Set or each server can be connected using NIC Teaming (as the figure below
depicts) to vNets from both Shared Uplink Sets that represent the same external VLAN. For example,
blade server 1 has one NIC assigned to VC_LAN_4_A and one assigned to VC_LAN_4_B. Both
teamed NICs are effectively assigned to VLAN 4 and load balancing and\or Fault Tolerance can be
provided over both logical paths at the same time. When each server is connected to multiple
vNets using NIC Teaming, the load balancing algorithm in the NIC Teaming driver controls how data
frames are load balanced over each vNet.
Figure 13. VC Domain Showing Advanced Usage of Shared Uplink Sets, EtherChannel, and Untagged Server NICs
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
Advanced VC-Enet Designs: Example Design #4
The last example of an advanced design is depicted in the figure below. In this diagram, two ESX
hosts, server 1 & 16, are each connected to two vNets, vNet_tunnel_1 and vNet_tunnel_2. Both
vNets are tunneling VLANs 2 thru 4 over their own 2 Gb port channel. Each ESX server is tagged with
VLANs 2 thru 4 and can assign Virtual Machines (VMs) to any of the three VLANs. Since both port
channels are active, the VC Domain has a shared 4 Gb connection (2 port channels x 2 Gb each)
to provide blade servers connectivity to VLAN 2 thru 4 by tunneling the VLANs to any blade server
with a NIC port assigned to either vNet.
In order to utilize both port channels, the servers can be divided between the vNets associated with
each Shared Uplink Set or each server can be connected using NIC Teaming\bonding (as the
figure below depicts). For example, blade server 1 has one NIC port assigned to vNet_tunnel_1 and
one assigned to vNet_tunnel_2. Both vNets represent 802.1Q tunnels for VLANs 2 thru 4. Also, both
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NIC ports are assigned to the same vSwitch on the ESX server. This allows the vSwitch to use either
NIC port to reach any of the VLANs over an active 2 Gb logical path. VLANs 2 thru 4 are
represented within this VC domain by two active 2 Gb port channels for a total of 4 Gb.
Figure 14. VC Domain Showing Advanced Usage of Shared Uplink Sets, EtherChannel, and Tagged Server NICs
(see Appendix A for a description of the elements in the above diagram)
There are many reasons why an administrator may want to create multiple vNets to represent the
same external VLAN:
• To apply specific port security, QoS, ACLs, Private VLANs, etc. settings on the Cisco switch
ports connected to the uplinks for a specific vNet.
o The settings need to be applied to some, but not all, of the blade servers on that
VLAN, therefore, multiple vNets are used to group together servers requiring the same
settings.
• To provide an Active\Active VC uplink configuration to the same external VLAN or VLAN
trunk.
o VC prevents loops on the network by only allowing a vNet to only have one active
logical path at any given time. Utilizing multiple vNets for the same VLAN provides
multiple active VC uplinks for the same VLAN while still preventing loops on the
network
o Servers can be divided among the multiple vNets or servers can be dual homed to
multiple vNets using NIC Teaming
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Comparing VC and VMware Networking Technology
One method of understanding how Virtual Connect operates on the LAN is to compare the Virtual
Connect networking components and their functionality to the networking components of a
VMware ESX server. Since the networking technology used in a VMware ESX server is commonly
understood and accepted by many customers, understanding the many similarities between VC
and a VMware ESX server will help an implementer have a better understanding of how Virtual
Connect looks to, and behaves on, the external network. Just to be clear, Virtual Connect and a
VMware ESX server are fundamentally different products and address completely different needs
within the datacenter. This comparison is strictly about understanding the similarities between the
two products in regards to networking technology in order to better understand Virtual Connect.
A Description of the VMware Components:
Referencing the figure below, the VMware ESX server (left) is a single physical server running server
virtualization software (VMware) that allows the physical server to host one or more instances of a
virtual server, called a Virtual Machine (VM). In addition, the VMware ESX server provides external
network connectivity to the internal servers (VMs) using a virtual (software) implementation of a layer
2 bridge, called a vSwitch. The VM virtual NICs (vNics) are assigned to one of the vSwitches and the
vSwitches are then associated with real physical NICs residing in I/O slots on the VMware ESX server.
The vSwitches can have one or more physical NICs (uplinks) assigned to them to provide external
network connectivity. If more than one physical NIC is assigned to the same vSwitch, network
redundancy and/or load balancing is provided for the internal servers (VMs) assigned to that
vSwitch. The physical NICs then present one or more MAC addresses to the external network,
depending on the number of VMs communicating to the external network through each physical
NIC.
A Comparative Description of the VC Components:
Referencing the figure below, the c-Class enclosure (right) is a single physical enclosure that hosts
one or more real physical servers, called a blade server. In addition, the c-Class enclosure provides
external network connectivity to the internal servers (blade servers) using a hardware
implementation of a layer 2 bridge, called a Virtual Connect Ethernet network (vNet). The blade
server physical NICs (pNics) are assigned to one of the vNets and the vNets are then associated with
real physical VC uplink ports from VC-Enet modules residing in the I/O bays on the c-Class enclosure.
The vNets can have one or more VC uplinks assigned to them to provide external network
connectivity. If more than one VC uplink is assigned to the same vNet, network redundancy and/or
load balancing is provided for the internal servers (blade servers) assigned to that vNet. The VC
uplinks then present one or more MAC addresses to the external network, depending on the
number of blade servers communicating to the external network through each VC uplink.
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Figure 15. VMware ESX server Compared to Virtual Connect Enclosure
After comparing the components and their functionality, it is obvious why many customers treat a cClass enclosure with Virtual Connect the same way they would a single VMware ESX server. In other
words, VC allows an entire enclosure to look to the network just like a big VMware ESX server. From
a network redundancy and load balancing perspective, from a security perspective, from a port
monitoring perspective, etc.; VC simplifies the network connectivity for an entire enclosure and
makes it behave on the network like a single VMware ESX server.
Just to reiterate the commonality between the two products from a networking technology
perspective, below is a table of similarities.
Table 2. Networking Technology Similarities Between VC and VMware
Provides network connectivity for
multiple servers
Provides redundancy external
connectivity for internal servers
VMware
Virtual Connect
3
3
(virtual)
(physical & virtual)
3
3
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Provides load balanced external
connectivity for internal servers
3
3
External network sees multiple
MAC addresses on pNICs
(VMware) or VC Uplinks
3
3
(from VMs)
(from blade servers)
Can be configured to isolate
internal servers into separate
Layer 2 domains (broadcast
domains)
3
3
Can be configured to allow
internal servers to communicate
directly
3
3
pNICs\VC Uplinks can be
configured as Port Trunks
(EtherChannel)
3
3
pNICs\VC Uplinks can be
configured as VLAN Trunks
3
3
Does NOT transmits BPDUs to
external network
3
3
Does NOT participates in the
Datacenter Spanning Tree
3
3
(uses internal
loop
prevention)
(uses internal
loop prevention)
Uses a virtual (software)
component to pass frames
between internal servers and
external network
3
2
Uses a hardware component to
pass frames between internal
servers and external network
2
3
2
3
2
3
Is Operating System Independent
Supports both Itanium and x86
platforms
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Virtual Connect’s Loop Prevention Technology
Virtual Connect’s loop prevention technology is best described by building on what was discussed
in the section above, “Comparing VC and VMware Networking Technology”. VC’s loop prevention
technology is very similar to the NIC Teaming\bonding technology used by ProLiant servers.
Referring back to the figure above comparing VMware and VC, it can be seen that the ESX server is
using NIC bonding technology to provide load balancing and\or fault tolerance for vSwitch 1 and
for the associated VMs. Even though vSwitch 1 is redundantly connected to the Data Center LAN,
no loops are formed. In addition, Spanning Tree is not needed between the ESX server and the
Data Center LAN to prevent the loop. Instead, the NIC bonding technology on the ESX host
prevents loops on the network by only allowing one logical path (single NIC port or single channel
group\port trunk) to be active at one time. In comparison, VC uplinks prevent loops in the same
manner. In other words, on a per Virtual Connect network (vNet) basis, each vNet prevents loops
on the Data Center LAN by only allowing one active logical path at a time.
The behavior of the VC uplink ports associated with a vNet can be compared to the NIC ports
associated with a vSwitch. In both cases, Spanning Tree is not needed to prevent loops on the Data
Center LAN. Instead, in both cases “port bonding” technology is used to only allow a single active
logical path at any given time.
Stacking Virtual Connect Ethernet Modules
Virtual Connect can be configured by an Administrator to allow any VC uplink on any VC Ethernet
module to provide external connectivity for any server downlink. VC can also be configured to
allow connectivity between any set of server downlinks on any VC Ethernet module. Virtual
Connect provides this flexible connectivity through the use of ‘stacking links’ between VC Ethernet
modules.
Stacking links allow all VC Ethernet modules in the VC Domain to be configured as, and operate as,
a single device (except for port channeling). Stacking links are to a group of VC Ethernet modules
what the PCI bus is for a team of server NICs – a common communication path allowing all devices
to work together as one.
When any two Virtual Connect Ethernet modules from the same VC domain are directly connected
together using 1 Gb or 10 Gb ports, the two modules automatically negotiate, using LLDP, the link as
a stacking link. No manual configuration is required to make an uplink a stacking link. Simply
connecting two VC uplinks together is all that is required.
In the figure below, the green horizontal lines represent the internal stacking links that exist between
horizontally-adjacent VC modules by default. The orange vertical lines represent the external
stacking links that HP recommends customer install using 10 Gb or 1 Gb ports. The minimum
recommendations below provide stacking link redundancy for each VC Ethernet module.
Note:
Stacking links are required for all Virtual Connect Ethernet modules in the same Virtual Connect
Domain.
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Figure 16. VC Stacking Link Minimum Recommendations
Optimizing Virtual Connect Stacking Links
Virtual Connect stacking links provide the physical path between downlinks (server NIC ports) to VC
uplinks. As a result, the fewer VC uplinks a frame has to traverse, the less latency the frame incurs in
reaching the external network. Each VC module a frame must traverse adds approximately 3.8
microseconds of latency to the frame. Because of the additional latency that each hop can add,
an administrator may wish to add additional stacking links above the recommended minimum.
On a per-vNet or per-Shared Uplink Set basis, the VC-Enet module with the active uplink, or port
channel, is the module that all server frames will use to exit the VC domain towards the external
network. For example, if a server NIC port (assigned to vNet1) is connected to VC-Enet module 2
and the active uplink for vNet1 is connected to VC-Enet module 6, then module 2 will send the
frame towards module 8 via the shortest stacking link path. If the modules are stacked together
using stacking links as depicted in the figure above, module 2 will take the path to module eight via
the stacking link to module 7. Module 7 will then use it’s directly connected internal stacking link to
deliver the frame to module 8 and out the uplink towards the external network. Module 2 could use
the longer path via module 1 to module 3 to module 4 to module 8 if it loses its shorter path through
module 7.
An administrator could purposefully add additional stacking links to provide shorter stacking link
paths between modules. For example using the scenario above, the administrator could add an
additional stacking link between module 2 and module 8. If added, module 2 could send frames
towards the active uplink on module 8 using the directly connected stacking link to module 8.
Purposefully adding additional stacking links is not a common practice since each module’s latency
of 3.8 microseconds is so low.
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VC Managed MAC Addresses
One of the many features provided by Virtual Connect is the ability to “manage” the blade server
MAC addresses. Specifically, Virtual Connect ‘manages’ the blade server MAC addresses. Virtual
Connect does not ‘virtualize’ the blade server MAC addresses. Many VC implementers don’t
appreciate the difference between ‘virtualized’ MAC addresses and ‘managed’ MAC addresses.
A ‘virtualized’ MAC address is a MAC address that is not really owned and used by a physical NIC.
Often, a virtualized MAC address is a MAC address that replaces the real MAC address of a physical
NIC without the server’s knowledge. In other words, the server thinks it is communicating on the
network with MAC address X, however, some device is replacing real MAC address X with a virtual
MAC address Y. Many of the benefits of MAC address management are lost in this type of
implementation.
A ‘managed’ MAC address is a MAC address that really is owned and used by a physical NIC. The
server has simply been assigned, by the administrator, to use a specific MAC address on a specific
physical NIC port. This managed MAC address, for all intents and purposes, appears to the server as
the MAC address that was burned into the physical NIC at the factory.
The benefits of VC Managed MAC addresses are:
• WYSIWYG - What You See (on the server) Is What You Get (on the network)
There is no discrepancy between what the server thinks its MAC address is and what the
external network sees as the server’s MAC address. This dramatically reduces the
complexity of troubleshooting network related issues.
•
Server application licensing is maintained after hardware changes
Many server application licensing mechanisms can key off the server’s MAC addresses.
If the server’s MAC address changes (replacing a failed NIC, booting server image on a
different physical server, etc.), then the application licensing may require re-licensing
using the new MAC address. Virtualized MAC addresses do not prevent this problem.
However, VC’s use of managed MAC addresses does prevent this problem since the
server image will always see the VC managed MAC address regardless of which physical
server it is running on.
•
No Performance impact on network devices
Virtualized MAC addresses can require that a network device (e.g. switch) manipulate
every frame a server transmits to replace the server’s MAC address with the virtualized
MAC address. Also, when the source MAC address is edited by the network device, the
frames checksum (CRC) has to be recomputed by the network device. The more frames
a server transmits, the more work the network device has to do, which can have an
impact on the performance of the network device. Alternatively, VC’s use of managed
MAC addresses means the server transmits with the managed MAC address. No device
on the network (VC or switch) is required to manipulate the server’s frames. This results in
absolutely no performance impact on the network.
When a blade server with VC managed MAC addresses is removed from the enclosure (or when a
VC Server Profile is unassigned from a server blade while still in the enclosure) the blade server
automatically reverts back to the actual MAC addresses burned into the physical NICs at the
factory. This prevents any issues with duplicate MAC addresses on the network caused by moving
blade servers around within the data center.
Virtual Connect Manager (VCM) provides three domain-wide choices for managing the blade
server MAC addresses:
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•
Static, factory-default MAC addresses
As the name suggests, this setting tells Virtual Connect to not manage the server MAC
addresses. The server will only use the original factory burned-in MAC address.
•
User-defined
This setting allows the Administrator to define a Locally Administered MAC address range
that Virtual Connect will use to assign to blade servers.
•
HP Pre-defined (recommended)
This setting tells Virtual Connect to assign server MAC addresses from the pool of MAC
addresses that HP has reserved. This option allows the Administrator to choose from one
of 64 ranges of 1024 MAC addresses.
In addition, when using either the User-defined or HP Pre-defined settings as the domain-wide
default setting, each individual VC Server Profile can optionally override the domain-wide setting by
selecting to use the factory-default MAC address instead.
Important points about VC managed MAC addresses:
• VC only manages the MAC address of physical NIC ports on a blade server. VC does
not manage the MAC address used by virtual servers that may run on a physical server.
• A server reverts to the factory-default MAC address when removed from the enclosure or
when no VC Server Profile is applied to it.
• VC generates 2 MAC addresses per NIC port in order to support multi-function adapters
that may require more than one MAC address per port.
• Customers requiring a centralized database for managing the VC managed MAC
address pools should consider implementing Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager. See
www.hp.com/go/vcem for more details.
Spanning Tree
Since Virtual Connect does not present itself to the external Cisco network as another “Ethernet
switch”, the subject of “spanning tree interoperability” is not an applicable topic when discussing
the two products. In other words, in the same way that a server (with multiple NICs) does not need
to be configured for spanning tree, Virtual Connect (with multiple uplinks that look like NICs to the
external Cisco network) does not need to be configured for spanning tree either. This means that
the network administrator does not have to worry about STP interoperability issues between VC and
Cisco since VC uplink ports do not transmit or receive STP BPDUs (Spanning Tree configuration
frames) and cannot interfere with the external switched infrastructure’s implementation of STP any
more than a multihomed server can. This also means that all questions about PVST+ support, Rapid
Spanning Tree, MST, etc. are not applicable for Virtual Connect deployment discussions.
Since VC uplink ports simply look to the network like “regular old server ports” with multiple MAC
addresses, HP recommends that Cisco downlink ports connected to the VC uplink ports be
configured as if they are connected directly to server NIC ports. In other words, configure the Cisco
downlink ports as “access” or “trunk” ports with PortFast enabled. Enabling BPDUGuard is also an
acceptable option for customers that regularly enable it for other Cisco switch ports connected
directly to server ports. In summary, since Virtual Connect allows the c-Class enclosure to connect
to the external network in much the same way as a VMware ESX server connects to the external
network, it is easy to understand why Virtual Connect, just like a VMware ESX server, does not
participate in the external network’s spanning tree domain.
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PortFast
The Spanning Tree PortFast feature was designed for Cisco switch ports connected to edge devices,
like server NIC ports. This feature allows a Cisco switch port to bypass the ‘listening’ and ‘learning’
stages of spanning tree and quickly transition to the ‘forwarding’ stage. By enabling this feature,
edge devices are allowed to immediately begin communication on the network instead of having
to wait on Spanning Tree to determine if it needs to block the port to prevent a loop – a process that
can take 30+ seconds with default Spanning Tree timers. Since edge devices do not present a loop
on the network, Spanning Tree is not needed to prevent loops and can be effectively bypassed by
using the PortFast feature. The benefit of this feature is that server NIC ports can immediately
communicate on the network when plugged in rather than timing out for 30 or more seconds. This is
especially useful for time sensitive protocols such as PXE and DHCP.
Since VC uplinks operate on the network as an edge device (like teamed server NICs), Spanning
Tree is not needed on the directly connected Cisco switch ports. This means that PortFast can be
enabled on the Cisco switch ports directly connected to VC uplinks.
Note:
The interface command to enable PortFast on a Cisco access port is “spanning-tree portfast”.
The interface command to enable PortFast on a Cisco trunk port is “spanning-tree portfast trunk”.
BPDU Guard
BPDU Guard is a safety feature for Cisco switch ports that have PortFast enabled. Enabling BPDU
Guard allows the switch to monitor for the reception of BPDU frames (spanning tree configuration
frames) on the port configured for PortFast. When a BPDU is received on a switch port with PortFast
and BPDU Guard enabled, BPDU Guard will cause the switch port to err-disable (shutdown). Since
ports with PortFast enabled should never be connected to another switch (which transmits BPDUs),
BPDU Guard protects against PortFast-enabled ports from being connected to other switches. This
prevents loops caused by bypassing Spanning Tree on that port and this prevents any device
connected to that port from becoming the root bridge.
Since VC behaves as an edge device on the network and since VC does not participate in the
data center spanning tree (i.e. doesn’t transmit BPDUs on VC uplinks), BPDU Guard can be used, if
desired, on Cisco switch ports connected to VC uplinks.
Note:
The interface command to enable BPDU Guard on a Cisco port is “spanning-tree bpduguard
enable”.
Unidirectional Link Detection (UDLD)
UDLD is a Cisco proprietary feature that only operates between two directly connected Cisco
devices. The purpose of UDLD is to detect unidirectional links (UniDirectional Link Detection) in
situations where spanning tree is being used to detect and prevent loops. If a unidirectional link
goes undetected, spanning tree won’t properly detect the loop and won’t block the port to
prevent a loop on the network. Since spanning tree is not used between VC uplinks and external
Cisco switches, a spanning tree loop caused by a unidirectional link is not possible. Therefore, UDLD
is not required nor supported on Virtual Connect uplinks.
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Quality of Service
In the current version of firmware, Virtual Connect does not support any user-configurable settings
for traffic classification, marking, or prioritization. In addition, VC does not utilize layer 2 quality of
service markings (802.1p Class of Service) nor layer 3 quality of service markings (TOS, DSCP) for
frame prioritization. However, just like with any server-to-Cisco-switch deployment, QoS settings can
be applied to the Cisco switch port connected to VC uplinks.
If an Administrator needs the blade server NIC ports to receive layer 2 QoS markings (Class of
Service), then the server NIC ports will need to be assigned to a vNet operating in 802.1Q\p
tunneling mode. See the section above entitled “VC Uplinks and VLAN Trunking” for more
information.
Security
ACLs & VLAN ACLs
In the current version of firmware, Virtual Connect does not support user-configurable port or VLAN
ACLs. However, an Administrator can specifically design the deployment of vNets to make use of
ACLs or VACLs configured on the upstream Cisco switch.
In the figure below as an example, all four blade servers are on VLAN 1 even though they are split
between two different vNets. Since the uplink ports for both vNets are connected to Cisco switch
ports assigned to VLAN 1, both vNets represent VLAN 1 within the VC Domain. While server 1 can
communicate directly with Server 2 without leaving the VC Domain, Server 1 cannot talk to Servers 3
or 4 without transiting the external Cisco switch. Server 1’s traffic will exit the VC domain via vNet
VC_LAN1_A connected to interface gi0/1, be switched by the Cisco switch over to interface gi0/3,
and reach Server 3 via the vNet VC_LAN1_B.
Since Server 1’s traffic must transit the external Cisco switch to reach either Server 3 or Server 4,
Server 1’s traffic will be subject to any port ACLs or VLAN ACLs configured on the external Cisco
switch. In this case, the Administrator could apply a VACL on VLAN 1 of the external Cisco switch to
prevent Server 1 from communicating with Server 3 while still allowing Server 1 to communicate with
Server 4.
The scenario above is just one example of the many ways an Administrator can creatively use vNets
to accommodate complex network configurations.
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Figure 17. Using multiple vNets to force server-to-server traffic through external Cisco switch
Port Security
Many network administrators use a Cisco switch feature called “Port Security” to provide additional
security on the network. This feature allows the administrator to control how many MAC address are
learned on a particular switch port or allows the administrator to limit connectivity to specific MAC
addresses. Typically, the feature is enabled on the Cisco switch ports where desktops and laptops
are connected in order to prevent additional hubs or switches from being connected to the
network. By enabling this feature, the administrator can configure the port to automatically shut off
(err-disable) if more than a certain number of MAC addresses are learned on the switch port. When
an unauthorized switch or hub is connected to the port, it is possible that more MAC addresses are
learned than are permitted by the administrator and the switch port is shut down. This isolates the
unauthorized switch or hub until the administrator re-enables the port.
Port security can also be used in the data center for Cisco switch ports connected to server NICs.
Since a server NIC port typically only uses a single MAC address, the feature does not cause the port
to be shut down. However, if Port Security is enabled on the Cisco switch ports connected to VC
uplinks and the administrator limits the number of MAC addresses to less than the number of MAC
addresses being used by the servers in the BladeSystem enclosure, then the port security feature
can cause the Cisco switch ports to shut down. This causes the BladeSystem enclosure to be
isolated from the external network.
If port security must be used on the Cisco switch ports connected to Virtual Connect, make sure the
number of MAC addresses allowed is greater than or equal to the number of MAC addresses used
within the enclosure. Be sure to take into account servers that may be added to the enclosure at a
later date and take into account the virtual MAC addresses used by virtual servers (e.g. ESX VMs).
If port security is configured to only allow specific MAC addresses to communicate on the Cisco
switch port connected to the VC Uplink, an Administrator may find that using HP Managed MAC
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addresses with a user-defined range will simply the task. Simply configure port security to allow the
same range of MAC addresses that are manually configured for the user-defined range.
Whether an administrator is configuring port security to allow a certain number of MAC address or to
allow specific MAC addresses, they must configure all Cisco ports assigned to the same vNet (or
Shared Uplink Set) with the same port security settings in order to eliminate communication problems
after a VC uplink failover.
Private VLANs
Private VLANs, or PVLANs, is a Cisco feature that allows switch ports assigned to the same VLAN to
be configured for layer 2 isolation from other switch ports in the same VLAN. The benefit of this type
of feature is enhanced security. For example, an Administrator can assign several servers to the
same VLAN, utilizing the same IP subnet, and only allow the servers to directly communicate with the
default gateway but not with each other.
In the current release of VC firmware, Virtual Connect does not implement support for Private VLANs
within a single vNet. However, an Administrator can achieve complete Layer 2 separation between
server ports by assigning the server ports to separate vNets. Each vNet is a self-contained Layer 2
network\broadcast domain. Virtual Connect does not internally permit frames to pass between
vNets. This means that a customer can use multiple vNets to isolate servers from each other within
VC.
An Administrator can use multiple vNets to extend the function of PVLANs configured on the
upstream Cisco switch. In the example below, two VC vNets and a Cisco Private VLAN have been
used to create two “community” groups and one promiscuous port. All four servers are on the same
VLAN (VLAN 1), however, they are segregated at Layer 2 within VC because they are assigned to
two different vNets (VC_LAN1_A & VC_LAN1_B). These two vNets are uplinked into a Cisco switch
where VLAN 1 has been configured as a Private VLAN. Interface gi0/1 connected to VC_LAN1_A is
an “isolated” port, so it only permits VC_LAN1_A to communicate with the router port (promiscuous).
Also, VC_LAN1_B is connected to interface gi0/3 configured as “isolated” for VLAN 1, so it can also
only talk to the router. Server 1 and Server 2 can directly communicate with each other within the
VC Domain, however, they both would have to transit the external Cisco switch in order to
communicate with Server 3 and Server 4. As a result, all communication from Server 1 or 2 to Server
3 or 4 is subject to the PVLAN configuration on the external switch. If gi0/1 and gi0/3 are isolated
ports and gi0/5 is a promiscuous port, then Server 1 and Server 2 can communicate with each other
and with the router, but they cannot communicate with Server 3 or 4. The same is true for Server 3
and 4 – they can communicate with each other and the router, but not Servers 1 and 2. Both
VC_LAN1_A and VC_LAN1_B function as Community VLANs with the PVLAN. Note: all servers are on
the same VLAN (VLAN 1) and can be assigned IP addresses from the same subnet.
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Figure 18. Using multiple vNets to extend PVLAN configuration from external Cisco switch
(Please refer to Cisco documentation for a discussion of isolated, promiscuous, and community VLANs)
Multicast & IGMP Snooping
The IGMP Snooping feature allows VC-Enet modules to monitor (snoop) the IGMP membership
activities of the blade servers and optimize a vNet’s handling of multicast traffic to maximize
network resource utilization. Currently only IGMP v1 and v2 (RFC2236) are supported.
The IGMP Snooping idle timeout interval is set to 260 seconds by default. This value is basically the
"Group Membership Interval" value as specified by IGMP v2 specification (RFC2236). For optimum
network resource utilization, set the interval to match the configuration on the network's multicast
router.
By default, VC will flood, not prune, for all multicast groups. If a particular multicast group receives
an explicit join from a server NIC port, then that multicast group (and that group only) will be pruned
for any server NIC port that doesn’t transmit a join message. All other multicast groups will continue
to flood.
See the Virtual Connect User Guide for instructions on configuring IGMP Snooping.
SPAN (Port Monitoring)
Virtual Connect supports port monitoring functionality to assist in troubleshooting networking issues
for servers connected to the external network through Virtual Connect. VC allows an Administrator
to define a single, active port monitoring session per VC domain.
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The monitor session must be configured with at least one ‘monitored port’ and a single ‘analyzer
port’. The ‘monitor port’ list is the list of server downlinks whose traffic will be mirrored. The ‘analyzer
port’ is the VC uplink port that the network analyzer is connected to. VC will mirror the traffic from
the monitored ports to the analyzer port.
A Port Monitoring session can mirror the traffic for up to 16 server downlinks to the analyzer port. Any
VC uplink can be defined as the analyzer port and any server downlinks can be selected as the
monitored port. There is no VC Ethernet module dependency.
Lastly, the Administrator can choose the direction of the traffic to mirror – to the server, from the
server, or both.
Logging
Virtual Connect provides a local system log that records VC domain events and timestamps. The
local system log is not editable and does not permit manual clearing (for security purposes). The log
is circular and once the buffer is full, older entries are removed.
Centralized User Access Control (LDAP)
In the current version of VC firmware, TACACS+ and RADIUS are not supported for centralized user
access control. VC currently only supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).
Please consult the Virtual Connect User Guide for LDAP implementation details.
Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP)
Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) is a Cisco proprietary protocol used to exchange device identity
and capability information between two directly connected Cisco devices. CDP allows each Cisco
device to display, for the administrator, a table showing the identity and capability of other directly
connected Cisco devices. One of the primary uses of this information is for troubleshooting
purposes.
Virtual Connect does not support CDP. VC does support the industry standard protocol called Link
Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) by default. LLDP is functionally equivalent to CDP, although the two
protocols are not compatible. Many Cisco switches support LLDP. The global configuration
command “lldp run” and the interface commands “lldp transmit” and “lldp receive” are used to
enable LLDP on a Cisco switch that supports the protocol. The exec command “show lldp
neighbors” displays LLDP neighbor information to the Cisco switch console.
Virtual Connect provides the LLDP neighbor information for each VC uplink at the bottom of the
statistics page for each port.
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Additional Resources
HP Services:
www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/services
BladeSystem Solutions:
www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/solutions
Virtual Connect Cookbook:
www.hp.com/go/bladeconnect (see the Virtual Connect Interest Group)
Virtual Connect Documentation:
www.hp.com/go/bladesystem/documentation
Virtual Connect Firmware:
www.hp.com/go/bladesystemupdates
HP NIC Teaming for Windows Whitepaper:
ftp://ftp.compaq.com/pub/products/servers/networking/TeamingWP.pdf
About the Author
M. Sean McGee, CCIE #18040, is the senior network architect for the HP BladeSystem Engineering
division. Sean began his career at HP 10 years ago when he joined the Networking Products Division
supporting switching and routing products in the 3rd Level support group. Over time, he focused his
expertise on data center networking technologies and has spent the last several years in HP
engineering groups responsible for HP ProLiant NICs, HP NIC Teaming, HP BladeSystem Ethernet
switch architecture, and HP BladeSystem Virtual Connect development. As a member of the HP
BladeSystem Engineering division, Sean works with various engineering groups as an internal
networking technology consultant for new products, as a technical trainer to customers, partners,
and HP Field Engineers, and as a network design consultant to many HP customers deploying HP
BladeSystem products.
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Appendixes
Appendix A: Description of VC Network Diagram
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Appendix B: c3000 Port Mapping Diagram
Server Bays
Half-Height Server
Interconnect Bays
Server Bays
Full-Height Server
Interconnect Bays
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Appendix C: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Why do I see lots of dropped frames (discards) on standby VC uplink ports?
A1: An external switch has no concept of which VC link is the active uplink and which is the standby uplink. As
far as the external switch is concerned, one of the uplinks is just a whole lot busier. That means that the
external switch is still going to send some types of frames down the standby link and the standby link is going to
discard them. This includes all broadcasts, multicasts, and unknown unicasts (destination lookup failure in the
CAM table on the external switch). Any of these frames that are received on the standby link will be dropped
and will be reflected in the counters.
Q2: Can I manually choose which port channel is the preferred channel for a vNet?
A2: No, VC does not currently support setting the ‘port role’ for vNets (or Shared Uplink Sets) with LACP enabled
(connect mode ‘auto’). VC determines which port channel is active and which is standby, based on the
following criteria, 1 - Number of functional uplinks per port channel, 2 – Total bandwidth provided by each port
channel, 3 – if the previous two are a tie, then the VC module with the lowest MAC address (see TOE tag) will
provide the active port channel. With the information above, the Administrator could construct the primary
port channel with one addition uplink in order to make it the preferred port channel.
Q3: Do I have to use the same load balancing algorithm on both sides of the same port channel?
A3: No, you can have different load balancing algorithms on each side of a port channel.
Q4: I see Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) frames when I connect a network trace analyzer to a VC uplink
port. What is VC doing with LLDP and can I disable it?
A4: LLDP is the IEEE equivalent to Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP). It is a Layer 2 protocol that allows one device
to both announce itself (and some of its feature set) to a neighboring device as well as discover other
connected devices on the network. It is extremely low-bandwidth and is unobtrusive. VC uses LLDP to
determine when one of its uplinks or cross-connects is directly connected to another VC module in the same
VC domain so that it can form a stacking link. There is currently no way to disable it.
Q5: I don’t have any CX4 10Gb cables to form stacking links. Can I combine multiple 1Gb RJ-45 links instead?
A5: Yes, by adding multiple 1Gb links between modules, VC automatically aggregates them together to form a
single 802.3ad port trunk.
Q6: I am trying to get 802.3ad Port Trunking to work but can’t seem to get it to pass traffic. What am I doing
wrong?
A6: VC currently only supports LACP for 802.3ad port trunks. Cisco’s PAgP is not supported by VC. Future
versions of VC may add additional features to enhance this functionality. For LACP to work properly on a Cisco
switch, the channel mode must be set to either Active or Passive. VC can display detailed Ethernet and port
trunk statistics by clicking the desired Ethernet module under Hardware Overview in the left hand tree-view of
VCM.
Q7: How do I setup a cluster heartbeat network in Virtual Connect?
A7: Create a vNet in VC and do not assign a VC uplink port to it. Next, assign a “heartbeat” NIC from each
blade in the cluster to this vNet. All heartbeat traffic will be contained within the vNet and will not be
transmitted outside of the enclosure.
Q8: I need more than 16 VC uplinks. If I add more VC Ethernet modules to add more uplinks, am I required to
use additional NICs on my servers?
A8: No, you can add more VC Ethernet modules, stack them with the other VC Ethernet modules and just use
the uplink ports. Any VC uplink on any VC Ethernet module can be used to provide external connectivity for
any downlink on any VC Ethernet module.
Q9: I need more NICs on my blade servers. If I add more VC Ethernet modules to add more downlink ports, am
I required to use additional VC uplinks ports to provide connectivity for these new downlink ports?
A9: No, you can add more VC Ethernet modules, stack them with the other VC Ethernet modules and the new
downlink ports can be configured to use the uplinks on the existing VC-Enet modules. Any VC uplink on any VC
Ethernet module can be used to provide external connectivity for any downlink on any VC Ethernet module.
Q10: I noticed that the VC Ethernet module in interconnect bay 1 is the active Virtual Connect Manager and
that the VC module in bay 2 is the standby. Does this mean that only the VC module in bay 1 is providing
Ethernet connectivity for the blade servers?
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A10: No. Regardless of which VC module is running the active Virtual Connect Manager, all VC modules can
be used simultaneously to provide network connectivity.
Q11: Does VC support iSCSI?
A11: Yes VC is compatible with iSCSI. Since VC is a layer 2 device and iSCSI is an upper layer protocol, above
TCP/IP, VC does not implement any features specific to iSCSI. However, VC can provide network connectivity
for a server running iSCSI just like any other protocol.
Q12: Why are failovers taking longer than expected to restore connectivity for the blade servers (taking 20
seconds or longer)?
A12: Make sure the upstream Cisco switch ports connected to the VC uplink ports are configured with PortFast
enabled (“spanning-tree portfast” or “spanning-tree portfast trunk”)
Q13: Does VC interact with STP on my network?
A13: No. VC uplink ports look just like server NIC ports (ex. Physical NIC ports on an ESX server) and VC does not
support STP on the VC uplink ports.
Q14: Should I expect BPDUs to be sent from the VC uplink ports to my external Cisco switch ports?
A14: No. VC uplink ports do not transmit BPDUs.
Q15: Can I extend any of my L3 routing protocols through the VC domain?
A15: Since VC is a layer 2 device, it does not support any routing protocols. However, layer 3 routing protocols
such as OSPF, RIP, RIP2, etc. can be used on the servers and operate transparently through VC.
Q16: Can I configure transmit and receive load balancing NIC teaming with full redundancy throughout the
VC domain?
A16: Yes, only if you are using our Integrity blades with INP for Windows/Linux, APA for HP-UX, or Smart Load
Balancing in Linux on x86. There are currently no solutions for Windows on x86.
Q17: Can I mix VC 1/10 Gb-F and VC 1/10Gb in the same enclosure?
A17: yep. great way to increase bandwidth while further minimizing cable and port usage
Q18: Does VC support VMware and other OSs that support host-based VLAN tagging?
A18: Yes. See appropriate sections above.
Q19: Can I use third party branded SFPs and XFPs in a VC 1/10 Gb-F module?
A19: No, only HP branded SFP and XFP modules are supported.
Q20: Will upgrading the VC firmware require an outage?
A20: In general, HP recommends upgrading VC firmware during a scheduled maintenance window. However,
VC is able to perform a rolling, non-intrusive upgrade of all modules so long as redundancy is configured
throughout the solution.
Q21: How fast should I expect a failed VC uplink port to failover to a standby VC uplink port?
A21: 5 seconds or less for an optimized configuration
Q22: How fast should I expect a port channel (LAG) to failover?
A22: 5 seconds or less for an optimized configuration.
Q23: How fast should I expect my teamed NICs to failover when a vNet fails over between uplinks?
A23: 5 seconds or less for an optimized configuration.
Q24: Can I connect VC-Enet’s XFP ports to XENPACK or X2 ports on a Cisco switch?
A24: Cisco states that XENPACK, X2, and XFP modules are compatible if using the same port type. Since VC
only supports 10GB-LR and 10GB-SR, Virtual Connect should be compatible with XENPACK, X2, and XFP
modules from Cisco as long as they are using 10GBASE-LR or 10GBASE-SR modules. Since Cisco supports several
port types, several transceiver types, and many different interface modules for their switches, HP does not test
every combination.
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/modules/ps5455/prod_brochure0900aecd8034bba6.pdf
Q25: Is Virtual Connect compatible with layer 3 protocols other than IP? For instance, does VC support IPv6,
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IPX, AppleTalk, etc.?
A25: Virtual Connect only supports IP (IPv4) on its management interfaces (Web, SSH CLI, or SNMP). In
reference to Virtual Connect’s bridging functionality, VC supports any layer 3 or higher protocol in use on blade
servers. Since Virtual Connect is a layer 2 device, it is layer 3 protocol agnostic. Meaning, the blade servers
can communicate through VC using any upper layer protocol (e.g. IPv4, IPv6, IPX, AppleTalk, etc.) that’s
carried within an Ethernet frame.
Q26: Does Virtual Connect support jumbo frames?
A26: Yes, VC-Enet supports Ethernet frames sizes up to 9216 bytes.
Q27: Does Virtual Connect support EtherChannel\802.3ad\SLB on the downlinks to the server NICs? Can I use
LACP port trunking on the server NICs connected to Virtual Connect?
A27: No, Virtual Connect does not support EtherChannel\802.3ad on the downlinks to server NIC ports.
© 2008 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information
contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties
for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty
statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein
should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be
liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.
VMware and VMware ESX server is a trademark or registered trademark of
VMware, INC. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.
Cisco and EtherChannel are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco
Systems, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.
486216-001, February 2008
HP Virtual Connect for Cisco Network Administrators (version 1.2x)
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