Enabling and Configuring NIC Teaming on Server 2012, 2008

The training course contains how to administer and manage Windows Server 2012 High Availability using NIC teaming configuration on windows server 2012 and 2008. This course is very important for System admins for interviews and practical configurations in companies.

Windows Server 2012 High Availability:

One of the ways to provide high availability is to do your best to reduce single point of failures, single point of failure is when you have one device when the NIC card has one device fail we will loss access to our resources and service, by using NIC teaming we can add multiple network adaptors to reduce that possibility

What Is NIC Teaming?

  • Also known as NIC bonding or load balancing /Failover (LBFO)
  • Ability to combine multiple NICs and create 1 logical NIC used by OS
  • Minimum of 2 for LBFO
  • Maximum of 32 for team
  • Network traffic is load balanced between the active NICs
  • Network traffic is rerouted if a NIC fails
  • NIC teaming is a part of 2012 server

Restriction Requirements:

  • SR –IOV: Single Root I/O Virtualization
  • Remote direct memory access (RDMA): In both cases the actual network data is going to be sent out across is going to be taken and place on the network cards, and in doing so it by pass the network stack that’s where the multiplexer driver is actually setting, now if you by pass the multiplexer driver which is the core part of the NIC team there is nowhere for us to load balance that data.
  • TCP CHIMENY is a is bit different and its going to take the network stack and put the network stack on the network card, so there is nowhere for us to get the multiplexer driver into that network stack and there is nowhere for TCP chimney to take advantage of load balancing
  • Wireless LAN and Bluetooth adapters are not supported and they are also not going to provide the network speed you are looking for.
  • NICs of different speeds are not supported, but will run at low speed. Ex: 1 gb network card and a 100 mg network card can be part of the same NIC team but it’s not supported by Microsoft, so its advised to have 2 NIC cards that run at the same speed.

Configuring and enabling NIC teaming

On a windows server 2012, you will have 4 NIC cards or adapters and the 4 cards should be Intel PRO/1000 GT desktop adapter as Intel will provide NIC teaming software as well.

Having Intel NIC cards is always the preferred and best to configure NIC teaming, but windows 2012 server can handle any NIC cards be it Intel, Realtek, 3com, or D-link.

The recommended practice which I feel is better, is to have all NIC cards with same manufacturer and same cards, because when updating drivers it become a cumbersome process if you have different cards manufacturers

In the Windows 2012 server, we can get to the NIC console in 2 ways:

  • 1st way is to go to server manager and go to ALL SERVERS, highlight the server, right click and you will notice an option with configure NIC teaming. Click on it and you have the console to configure the NIC teaming.
  • 2nd ways is to open server manager and go to local server and you will find NIC teaming disabled, click the disabled link to open NIC teaming console

How do you create a new team in NIC teaming console?

When you open the NIC teaming console you will find on the left lower side TEAMS – Click On TASKS —click on new team

Adapters and interfaces:

Select a NIC—right click and click on add to new team, so this way we can add individual NIC card to a TEAM.

In the NIC teaming Windows, we can select NIC cards and name the NIC team, along with this you have additional properties where you can configure:

1. Teaming Mode:

There are 2 teaming modes – switch independent and switch dependent.

With switch independent, the teaming configuration works with any network switch, that means we can use a non intelligent and managed switch or intelligent managed switch, which means switch independent doesn’t dependent on switch intelligence. The intelligence is handled by the windows server 2012. All outbound traffic is managed by server 2012.

Switch dependent: We will get both, the switch and host involved, and which links form network team and we have 2 choices for that one is called static teaming and LACP.

Static teaming: We have to manually go in and statically assign which port on the switch is going to be configured as a part of the NIC team

LACP: Link aggregation control protocol, what it does is, it allows us with the windows operating system to be send packet to the switch and be able to say dynamically allowing the ports to be enabled on the switch level

With static teaming and LACP, we need to have both network cards connect to the ports on the same switch.

With switch independent, we can have an NIC card 1 connect to port on switch A and NIC card 2 connect to port on switch B, it eliminates a single point of failure

Switch dependent is good to configure when we have applications that use heavy inbound and outbound traffic. For example: SQL servers and exchange servers

2. Load Balancing Mode:

address hash is the options we are going to use for physical servers and hyper v port for virtual servers

3. Standby Adapter:

It will only come into play when one of the other network adapters fails, the standby adapters just stand doing nothing and check for if the other NIC fails, once a NIC card fails the standby adapter moves from an inactive state to active, joins the NIC team and starts to send and receive data

4. Primary team interface:

  • VLAN Membership
  • Default: the default interface handles all traffic that is not claimed by other VLAN specific interface
  • Specific VLAN: Once the additional properties are configured, click on OK and the Ethernet card will automatically take all the settings

Managing Network Connections:

Now open network connections and you will notice NIC TEAM along with the other NIC cards, configured with Microsoft network adapter multiplexer protocol; so this is where you are going to configure all the network configurations

You can go to the NIC Team properties and assign static IP address.