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Nutanix Tech Note

VMware vSphere Networking on Nutanix

Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is engineered from the ground up


for virtualization and cloud environments. This Tech Note describes
vSphere networking concepts and how they can be used in a Nutanix
environment to ensure optimal performance and availability. It also
covers the recommended configuration settings for different vSphere
networking options.

2014 All Rights Reserved, Nutanix Corporation

Table of Contents
Executive Summary ................................................................................................................................................... 3
VMware vSphere Networking Overview ........................................................................................................... 3
Network Discovery Protocols ................................................................................................................................ 4
Cisco Nexus 1000V / VMware NSX ..................................................................................................................... 5
Network I/O Control (NIOC) .................................................................................................................................. 5
Management Traffic ............................................................................................................................................. 6
vMotion Traffic ....................................................................................................................................................... 6
Fault Tolerance Traffic ........................................................................................................................................ 6
Virtual Machine Traffic ........................................................................................................................................ 7
NFS Traffic ............................................................................................................................................................... 7
Nutanix CVM Traffic ............................................................................................................................................. 7
iSCSI Traffic ............................................................................................................................................................. 8
vSphere Replication Traffic ............................................................................................................................... 8
Other Defaults ........................................................................................................................................................ 8
Load Balancing, Failover, and NIC Teaming .................................................................................................... 9
NIC Team Load Balancing .................................................................................................................................. 9
Recommendation for VSS - Route Based on Originating Virtual Port ............................................. 9
Recommendation for VDS - Route Based on Physical NIC Load (LBT) .......................................... 9
Network Failover Detection ............................................................................................................................ 10
Notify Switches .................................................................................................................................................... 10
Failover Order ....................................................................................................................................................... 10
Failback ..................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Summary ................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Security .......................................................................................................................................................................... 11
Virtual Networking Configuration Examples .................................................................................................. 12
Option 1 - Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS) with VSS for Nutanix Internal deployment ......... 13
Option 2 - Virtual Standard Switch (VSS) with VSS for Nutanix Internal Deployment ............ 14
Network Performance Optimization with Jumbo Frames ........................................................................ 15
Sample Jumbo Frame Configuration............................................................................................................ 16
Recommended MTU Sizes for Traffic Types using Jumbo Frames .................................................. 16
Jumbo Frames Recommendations ................................................................................................................ 17
Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................................... 18
Further Information .................................................................................................................................................. 18

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Executive Summary
The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is a highly resilient converged compute and
storage platform, designed for supporting virtual environments such as VMware
vSphere. The Nutanix architecture runs a storage controller in a VM, called the
Nutanix Controller VM (CVM). This VM is run on every Nutanix server node in a
Nutanix cluster to form a highly distributed, shared-nothing converged infrastructure.
All CVMs actively work together to aggregate storage resources into a single global
pool that can be leveraged by user virtual machines running on the Nutanix server
nodes. The storage resources are managed by the Nutanix Distributed File System
(NDFS) to ensure that data and system integrity is preserved in the event of node,
disk, application, or hypervisor software failure. NDFS also delivers data protection
and high availability functionality that keeps critical data and VMs protected.
Networking and network design are critical parts of any distributed system. A
resilient network design is important to ensure connectivity between Nutanix CVMs,
for virtual machine traffic, and for vSphere management functions, such as ESXi
management and vMotion. The current generation of Nutanix Virtual Computing
Systems comes standard with redundant 10GbE and 1GbE NICs, which can be used
by vSphere for resilient virtual networking.
This Tech Note is intended to help the reader understand core networking concepts
and configuration best practices for a Nutanix cluster running with VMware vSphere.
Implementing the following best practices will enable Nutanix customers to get the
most out of their storage, networking, and virtualization investments.

VMware vSphere Networking Overview


VMware vSphere supports two main types of virtual switches, the Virtual Standard
Switch (VSS) and the Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS). The main differences
between these virtual switch types are their functionality and how they are created
and managed.
VSS is available in all versions of VMware vSphere and is the default method to
connect virtual machines on the same host to each other and to the external (or
physical) network. VDS is available only with vSphere Enterprise Plus and has more
advanced features and functionality.
In general, VSS is simple to configure and maintain, but it lacks support for Network
I/O Control (NIOC), has no automated network load balancing functionality, and it
cant be centrally managed.

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Bundled in vSphere Enterprise Plus, VDS supports NIOC with Network Resource
Pools and can be centrally managed, allowing the VDS configuration to be applied to
remote ESXi hosts easily. It also supports network discovery protocols, including
Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) and Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP).
The following sections include a discussion of the various features of VSS and VDS,
along with configuration recommendations on the Nutanix platform.

Network Discovery Protocols


Network discovery protocols give vSphere administrators visibility on connectivity
between the virtual and physical network. This visibility makes troubleshooting easier
in the event of issues such as cabling problems or MTU / packet fragmentation.
VMware vSphere offers three configuration settings for switch discovery Listen,
Advertise, or Both. These configuration settings are used to determine the
information sent and/or received by the discovery protocol.
Nutanix recommends using the "Both" setting, which ensures information is collected
and displayed from the physical switch, and also ensures that ESXi sends information
about the virtual distributed switch (VDS) to the physical switch.
The following information is visible in the vSphere client for advertising switches:
1. The physical switch interface the dvUplink is connected to
2. MTU size (i.e., If Jumbo Frames are enabled or not). Some switches will report
maximum MTU of 9,216
3. The switch management IP address(es)
4. The switch name, description, software version, and capabilities
The following are general recommendations for Discovery Protocol Configuration,
but Nutanix suggests all customers careful consider the advantages and
disadvantages of discovery protocols for their specific security and discovery
requirements.
Recommendations for Discovery Protocol Configuration
Type

Depending on your switching infrastructure, use either:


1) CDP - For Cisco-based environments
2) LLDP - For non-Cisco environments

Operation

Both - Generally acceptable in most environments and provides maximum


operational benefits. This allows both vSphere and the physical network to
openly advertise information.

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Cisco Nexus 1000V / VMware NSX


The Cisco Nexus 1000V and VMware NSX solutions can be used with Nutanix
solutions, however this is out of the scope for this document. You can engage on the
topic of SDN with Nutanix on our community site http://next.nutanix.com.

Network I/O Control


Network I/O control (NOIC) is a feature available since vSphere 4.1 with the Virtual
Distributed Switch (VDS). NOIC uses network resource pools to determine the
bandwidth that different network traffic types provide. When NIOC is enabled,
distributed switch traffic is divided into custom and predefined network resource
pools, including fault tolerance traffic, NFS traffic, iSCSI traffic, vMotion traffic, ESXi
management traffic, vSphere replication (VR) traffic, and VM traffic.
The physical adapter shares assigned to a network resource pool determine what
share of the total available bandwidth will be guaranteed to the traffic associated
with that network resource pool in the event of contention. It is important to
understand that NIOC has no impact on the network traffic, unless there is
contention. So during times where the network is less than 100% utilized, NIOC will
have no advantage or disadvantage. Bandwidth made available to a network
resource pool is determined by the share assigned to that pool, compared to other
network resource pools. For further information about shares, review the following
best practice guide from VMware:
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMW_Netioc_BestPractices.pdf
Limits can also be applied to selected traffic types if required. Nutanix recommends
not to set limits as they may unnecessarily impact performance for given workloads
when there is available bandwidth. Using shares ensures burst workloads, such as
vMotion, can complete their workload (in this example the migration of a VM to a
different ESXi host) as fast as possible where bandwidth is available, and NIOC
shares will prevent other workloads from being significantly impacted in the event
available bandwidth is limited.

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The following table shows recommended values for the Network Resource Pool
Share:
Network Resource Pool

Physical Adapter Shares

Host Limit - MB/s

Management Traffic

Share
Value
25

Low

Unlimited

vMotion Traffic

50

Normal

Unlimited

Fault Tolerance (FT) Traffic

50

Normal

Unlimited

Virtual Machine Traffic

100

High

Unlimited

100

High

Unlimited

100

High

Unlimited

100

High

Unlimited

50

Normal

Unlimited

50

Normal

Unlimited

iSCSI Traffic

NFS Traffic
Nutanix Traffic

vSphere Replication (VR)


2
Traffic
Other pools, including:
2
vSphere/Virtual SAN Traffic

Notes:
1. This is a custom Network Resource Pool, which needs to be created manually.
2. These pools are generally not applicable or relevant in Nutanix deployments.

Management Traffic
Management traffic requires minimal bandwidth with a share value of 25 over two
10Gb interfaces. This configuration will ensure a minimum of approximately 1.5Gbps
bandwidth. This is more than sufficient for ESXi management traffic and above the
minimum requirement of 1Gbps.

vMotion Traffic
vMotion is a burst-type workload, which uses no bandwidth until DRS or a vSphere
administrator starts a vMotion (or puts a host into maintenance mode). As such, it is
unlikely to have any significant ongoing impact on the network traffic. Nutanix
recommends a share value of 50 over two 10Gb interfaces. This will guarantee a
minimum of approximately 3Gbps which is sufficient for vMotion activity to complete
in a timely manner. This also ensures vMotion has well above the minimum
bandwidth requirement of 1Gbps.

Fault Tolerance Traffic


Fault tolerance (FT) traffic is dependent on how many FT VMs per host (current
maximum of 4 per host) and will generally be a sustained workload, as opposed to a
burst workload such as vMotion. This is because FT needs to keep the primary and

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secondary VMs in "lockstep". Generally, virtual machines using FT are critical and you
need to ensure FT traffic (which is also sensitive to latency) is not impacted during
periods of contention. Nutanix recommends using a share value of 50 and sharing
two 10Gb interfaces. Based on this configuration, FT will be guaranteed a minimum
of 3Gbps which is well above VMware's recommended minimum of 1Gbps.

Virtual Machine Traffic


VM traffic is why datacenters exist in the first place, so this traffic is always important
if not critical. If the VMs network connectivity slows, it can quickly impact end users
and reduce productivity. As such, it is important to ensure this traffic has a significant
share of the available bandwidth during periods of contention. Therefore, Nutanix
recommends a share value of 100 over two 10Gb interfaces. Based on this
configuration, virtual machine traffic will be guaranteed a minimum of approximately
6Gbps. For most environments, this bandwidth will be more than what is required
and ensure a good amount of headroom in case of unexpected burst activity.

NFS Traffic
NFS traffic is essential to the Nutanix Distributed File System and to virtual machine
performance, so this traffic is always critical. If NFS performance is degraded, it will
have an immediate impact on Nutanix CVM and VM performance. As such, it is
important to ensure this traffic has a significant share of the available bandwidth
during periods of contention.
In normal operation, NFS traffic is serviced locally. So NFS traffic will not impact the
physical network card unless the Nutanix Controller VM is offline in the event of
maintenance or unavailability. Under normal circumstances, there will be no NFS
traffic going across the physical NICs and the NIOC share value will have no impact
on other traffic. For this reason, it is excluded from calculations.
As a safety measure, to ensure that in the event of network contention, CVM
maintenance, or unavailability, a share value of 100 is assigned to NFS traffic. This
guarantees a minimum of 6Gbps bandwidth.

Nutanix CVM Traffic


For the Nutanix DFS to function, it requires connectivity to the other CVMs in the
cluster. This connectivity is used for tasks such as write I/O synchronous replication
and Nutanix cluster management. Under normal circumstances, there will be minimal
to no read I/O traffic going across the physical NICs. This is because the Nutanix
NDFS architecture was designed with the key concept of VM-data locality. However,

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write I/O will always utilize the physical network due to synchronous replication for
data fault tolerance and availability.
For optimal NDFS performance, each CVM will be guaranteed a minimum of 6Gbps
bandwidth. In most environments, this bandwidth will be more than what is required
and ensure a good amount of headroom in case of unexpected burst activity.

iSCSI Traffic
iSCSI is not a normal protocol within a Nutanix environment. However, if iSCSI is used
within the environment, this traffic is also given a share value of 100.
Note: NIOC does not cover In Guest iSCSI traffic regulation by default. In the event In
Guest iSCSI is used, it is recommended to create a dvPortGroup for In Guest iSCSI
traffic and assign it to a custom network resource pool called "In Guest iSCSI" and
give it a share value of 100 (High).

vSphere Replication Traffic


vSphere Replication (VR) traffic may be critical to your environment if you choose to
use VR with or without VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM). When using SRM, it is
highly recommended to leverage the Nutanix Storage Replication Adaptor (SRA) as
this is more efficient than using vSphere-based replication alone.
If using VR without SRM, the default share value of 50 (Normal) should be suitable
for most environments. This guarantees approximately 3Gbps of network bandwidth.

Other Defaults
Other default points are generally not relevant and can be disregarded with their
share value of 50.

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Load Balancing, Failover, and NIC Teaming


vSphere provides a number of load balancing, failover, and NIC teaming options.
Each option should be carefully understood and considered for a vSphere
networking deployment.

NIC Team Load Balancing


The available options for NIC team load balancing include:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Route based on originating virtual port


Route based on IP hash
Route based on source MAC hash
Route based on physical NIC load called load-based teaming or LBT (VDS
only)
5. Explicit failover order

Recommendation for VSS - Route Based on Originating Virtual Port


The route based on originating virtual port option is the default load balancing policy
and has no requirement for advanced switching configuration such as LACP, Cisco
EtherChannel, or HP teaming. These attributes make it simple to implement, maintain,
and troubleshoot. Route based on originating virtual port requires 802.1q VLAN
tagging for secure separation of traffic types. The main disadvantages are no load
balancing based on network load, which results in traffic from a single VM always
being sent to the same physical NIC, unless there is a failover event caused by a NIC
or upstream link failure. This is less of an issue with the high throughput 10GbE
network interfaces of the Nutanix Virtual Computing platform.

Recommendation for VDS Route Based on Physical NIC Load (LBT)


For environments using VDS, Nutanix recommends using route based on physical
NIC load. With this option, LBT has no requirement for advanced switching
configuration such as LACP, Cisco EtherChannel, or HP teaming. This option provides
fully automated load balancing which takes effect when the utilization of one or more
NICs reach and sustain 75% for a period of 30 seconds or more based on egress and
ingress traffic. LBT requires 802.1q VLAN tagging for secure separation of traffic
types. As a result, LBT is a very simple and effective solution to implement and
maintain, and works very well in Nutanix deployments.

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Network Failover Detection
VMware ESXi uses one of two methods of network failover detection: beacon
probing and link status.
Beacon probing works by sending out and listening for beacon probes which are
made up of broadcast frames. Beacon probing is dependent on having three network
connections. As a result of this requirement, it is not recommended for the current
generation of Nutanix Virtual Computing Platforms which currently have two
network ports.
Link status is dependent on the link status provided by the physical NIC. Link status
can detect failures, such as a cable disconnection and/or physical switch power
failures. Link status cannot detect configuration errors or upstream failures.
To avoid the limitations of link status relating to upstream failures, enable "link state
tracking" on physical switches that support this option. This enables the switch to
pass upstream link state information back to ESXi, which will allow link status to
trigger a link down on ESXi where appropriate.

Notify Switches
The purpose of the notify switches policy setting is to enable or disable
communication by ESXi with the physical switch in the event of a failover. If
configured as "Yes", ESXi will send a notification to the physical switch to update its
lookup tables on a failover event. Nutanix recommends enabling this option to
ensure that failover occurs in a timely manner with minimal interruption to network
connectivity.

Failover Order
Using failover order allows the vSphere administrator to specify the order in which
NICs failover in the event of an issue. This is configured by assigning a physical NIC
to one of three groups: active adapters; standby adapters; or unused adapters.
In the event all active adapters lose connectivity, the highest priority standby
adapter will be used. Failover order is only required in a Nutanix environment when
using Multi-NIC vMotion.
When configuring Multi-NIC vMotion, the first dvPortGroup used for vMotion must be
configured to have one dvUplink active and the other standby, with the reverse
configured for the second dvPortGroup used for vMotion. For more information see:
Multiple-NIC vMotion in vSphere 5 (KB2007467)

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Failback
For customers not using the VDS and LBT, the failback feature can help rebalance
network traffic across the original NIC. This can result in improved network
performance. The only significant disadvantage of setting failback to Yes is in the
unlikely event of network instability or network route flapping, since having network
traffic fail back to the original NIC may result in intermittent or degraded network
connectivity. Nutanix recommends setting failback to Yes when using VSS and No
when using VDS.

Summary
The following table summarizes Nutanix recommendations for NIC
Recommendation for Load Balancing, Failover, and NIC teaming
Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS)
Load Balancing

Route based on physical NIC load (LBT)

Network Failover Detection


Notify Switches

Link Status Only (Ensure "Link State Tracking" or


equivalent is enabled on Physical switches)
Yes

Failback

No

Virtual Standard Switch (VSS)


Load Balancing

Route based on originating virtual port

Network Failover Detection


Notify Switches

Link Status Only (ensure "Link State Tracking" or


equivalent is enabled on physical switches)
Yes

Failback

Yes

Security
When configuring a VSS or VDS, there are three configurable options under security:
promiscuous mode; MAC address changes; and forged transmits. Each of these can
be set to "Accept" or "Reject".
In general, the most secure and appropriate setting for each of the three options is
"Reject". There are several use cases which may require you to set a specific option
to Accept. An example of use cases to consider configuring "Accept" on forged
transmits and MAC address changes are:
1. Microsoft load balancing in Unicast mode
2. iSCSI deployments on select storage types

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For more information, see the Network Load Balancing Unicast Mode Configuration
(KB1006778) in the VMware Knowledgebase. The following are general
recommendations for Virtual Network Security settings, but Nutanix suggests all
customers carefully consider their requirements for their specific applications.
Recommendation for Virtual Networking Security
Promiscuous Mode

Reject

MAC Address Changes

Reject

Forged Transmits

Reject

Virtual Networking Configuration Examples


The following two virtual networking configuration examples cover the Nutanix
recommended configurations for both VSS and VDS solutions. Each configuration
discusses the advantages, disadvantages, and common use cases.
All Nutanix deployments use an internal-only VSS for the NFS communication
between the ESXi host and the Nutanix CVM. This VSS remains unmodified
regardless of the virtual network configuration for ESXi management, virtual machine
traffic, vMotion, and so on. Nutanix recommends that no changes be made to this
internal-only VSS.
In both of the following options, Nutanix recommends all vmNICs be set as "Active"
on the Portgroup and/or dvPortgroup unless otherwise specified.

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Option 1 - Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS) with VSS for Nutanix Internal
deployment
Option 1 is recommended for customers using VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus who
would like to use Virtual Distributed Switches. Option 1 has a number of benefits,
including:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

The ability to leverage advanced networking features, such as NIOC and LBT
(route based on physical NIC load)
It reduces cabling/switching requirements
It provides the ability for all traffic types to "burst" where required up to
10Gbps
It is a simple solution which only requires 802.1q configured on the physical
network
It can be centrally configured and managed

The following diagram shows a sample configuration for a VDS in a Nutanix


environment. Note how the Nutanix internal VSS is unmodified.
Distributed Virtual Switch: dvSwitchNutanix
VMKernel Port

Physical Adapters

Management Network

Vmnic0

10000

Auto

Vmnic1

10000

Auto

IPMI Out of Band Management Interface

Vmk0 : ESXi Management IP Address


VLAN: 10

1GB Network (LAN) 802.1q VLAN 10

VMKernel Port

vMotion
Vmk2 : vMotion IP Address
VLAN: 11
Onboard Dual Port 1GB NIC
UNUSED

VMKernel Port

Fault Tolerance
Vmk3 : Fault Tolerance IP Address

1GB 802.1q Trunk


1GB 802.1q Trunk

VLAN: 12
Virtual Machine Port Group

Virtual Machine Traffic VLAN 15

VLAN: 15
Virtual Machine Port Group

Virtual Machine Traffic VLAN 16

10Gb Adapter 1 Port 1

VLAN: 16

10GB 802.1q Trunk

Virtual Machine Port Group

Nutanix VLAN 10

10Gb Adapter 1 Port 2

VLAN: 10

10GB 802.1q Trunk

Virtual Switch: vSwitch-Nutanix


Virtual Machine Port group

Svm-iscsi-pg

Physical Adapters

No adapters

1 virtual machine(s)
NTNX-XXXXXXXXXXX-A-CVM
VMKernel Port

Vmk-svm-iscsi-pg
Vmk1 : 192.168.5.1

Figure 1: Virtual Networking Option 1 with Virtual Distributed Switch

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Option 2 - Virtual Standard Switch (VSS) with VSS for Nutanix Internal
Deployment
Option 2 is for customers not using VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus, or those who
do not wish to use the VDS. Option 2 and has a number of benefits, including:
1. It reduces cabling/switching requirements (No requirement for 1Gb ports)
2. It is a simple solution which only requires 802.1q configured on the physical
network.
The following diagram shows a sample configuration for a VDS in a Nutanix
environment:
Virtual Switch: vSwitchNTNX
VMKernel Port

Physical Adapters

Management Network

Vmnic0

10000

Auto

Vmnic1

10000

Auto

Vmk0 : ESXi Management IP Address


VLAN: 10
VMKernel Port

vMotion
Vmk2 : vMotion IP Address
VLAN: 11
VMKernel Port

IPMI Out of Band Management Interface

Fault Tolerance
Vmk3 : Fault Tolerance IP Address

1GB Network (LAN) 802.1q VLAN 10

VLAN: 12
Virtual Machine Port Group

Virtual Machine Traffic VLAN 15

VLAN: 15

Onboard Dual Port 1GB NIC


UNUSED

Virtual Machine Port Group

Virtual Machine Traffic VLAN 16

1GB 802.1q Trunkc


1GB 802.1q Trunkc

VLAN: 16
Virtual Machine Port Group

Nutanix VLAN 10

VLAN: 10
10Gb Adapter 1 Port 1

Virtual Switch: vSwitch-Nutanix


Virtual Machine Port group

Svm-iscsi-pg

Physical Adapters

10GB 802.1q Trunkc

No adapters

1 virtual machine(s)
10Gb Adapter 1 Port 2

NTNX-XXXXXXXXXXX-A-CVM
VMKernel Port

10GB 802.1q Trunk

Vmk-svm-iscsi-pg
Vmk1 : 192.168.5.1

Figure 2: Virtual Networking Option 2 with Virtual Standard Switch

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Network Performance Optimization with Jumbo Frames


Jumbo Frames is a term given to an Ethernet frame that has a data payload and MTU
size greater than 1,500 bytes. When configuring Jumbo Frames, the MTU size will
typically be configured to 9,000, which is near the maximum size for an Ethernet
frame.
The idea behind Jumbo Frames is as the speed of networks increase, a 1,500-byte
frame is unnecessarily small. With solutions such as IP-based storage (iSCSI/NFS)
leveraging converged networks, larger frames will assist with both throughput and
reducing the overhead on the network. By default, the network will be moving large
numbers of 1,500 byte frames. By configuring the network to use larger 9,000 byte
frames, it will process six times fewer packets, therefore improving throughput by
reducing the overhead on the network devices. Solutions such as VXLAN, require a
payload greater than 1,500 bytes. As a result, VMware recommends using Jumbo
Frames for VXLAN to avoid packet fragmentation.
One of the most important factors when considering the use of Jumbo Frames is
confirming that all network devices can provide end-to-end support for Jumbo
Frames, and can be enabled on all switches globally. If this is the case, Jumbo Frames
is recommended. It is also important to point out Jumbo Frames does not have to be
enabled for all traffic types.

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Sample Jumbo Frame Configuration
The following diagram shows an MTU size of 9,216 bytes configured on the physical
network with two ESXi hosts configured with Jumbo Frames where appropriate. This
illustrates the recommended configuration in a Nutanix environment. A combination
of Jumbo and non-Jumbo Frames can be supported on the same deployment.
(dv)PortGroup
Virtual Machine Traffic
MTU 1500

VMKernel
NFS or iSCSI

(dv)PortGroup
Nutanix

MTU 9000

MTU 9000

(dv)PortGroup
Virtual Machine Traffic

VMKernel
NFS or iSCSI

(dv)PortGroup
Nutanix

MTU 9000

MTU 9000

MTU 1500

ESXi Host

ESXi Host

MTU SIZE
9216

MTU 9000

MTU 9000

MTU 1500

VMKernel
Fault Tolerance

VMKernel
vMotion

VMKernel
ESXi Management

MTU 9000

MTU 9000

MTU 1500

VMKernel
Fault Tolerance

VMKernel
vMotion

VMKernel
ESXi Management

Figure 3: Using Jumbo Frames in ESXi environments

Recommended MTU Sizes for Traffic Types using Jumbo Frames


Note that performance is still excellent with the standard MTU of 1,500 bytes.

The following table shows the various traffic types in a VMware vSphere / Nutanix
environment, and Nutanix recommended Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU).
Traffic Types
2

Jumbo Frames (MTU of 9,000


bytes)

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Local and remote Nutanix CVM traffic


vMotion / Multi NIC vMotion
Fault tolerance
iSCSI
NFS
1
VXLAN

Jumbo Frames (MTU of 1,500


bytes)

1) ESXi management
3
2) Virtual machine traffic

Notes:

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1 Minimum MTU supported in 1,524, but >=1,600 is recommended
2 Assumes traffic types are not routed
3 Jumbo Frames can be beneficial in selected use cases, but not always required.

In summary, the benefits of Jumbo Frames include:


1. A reduced number of interrupts for the switches to process
2. Lower CPU utilization on the switches and Nutanix CVMs
3. Increased performance for some workloads, such as Nutanix CVM and
vMotion/FT
4. Performance is either the same or better than without Jumbo Frames as long
as they are properly configured on the end-to-end network path

Jumbo Frames Recommendations


The following are general recommendations for the configuration of Jumbo frames,
but Nutanix suggests all customers carefully consider requirements for their specific
applications and abilities of their network switching equipment.
Recommendations for Jumbo Frames
Recommendations when
supported by the entire
network stack

1)

Configure MTU of 9,216 bytes on


a) All switches and interfaces
2) Configure MTU of 9,000 on
a) VMK for NFS / iSCSI
b) Nutanix CVM internal and external interfaces
c) VMK(s) for vMotion / FT

Note: VMware also recommends using Jumbo Frames for IP-based storage, as
discussed in Performance Best Practices for vSphere 5.5 on the VMware Knowledge
Base site.
The Nutanix CVMs must be configured for Jumbo Frames on both the internal and
external interfaces. The converged network also needs to be configured for Jumbo
Frames. Most importantly, the configuration needs to be validated to ensure Jumbo
Frames are properly implemented end-to-end.
If Jumbo Frames are not properly implemented on the end-to-end network, packet
fragmentation can occur. Packet fragmentation will result in degraded performance
and higher overhead on the network.
The following ping commands can help you to test that end-to-end communication
can be achieved at Jumbo Frame MTU size without fragmentation occurring:

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Windows: ping l 9000 -f
Linux: ping s 9000 M do
ESXi: vmkping d s 8972 <ip_address>
Note: In ESXi 5.1 and later, you can specify which vmkernel port to use for
outgoing ICMP traffic with the I option.

Conclusion
The Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform is a highly resilient converged compute and
storage platform designed for supporting virtual environments such as VMware
vSphere. Understanding fundamental Nutanix and VMware networking configuration
features and recommendations is key to designing a scalable and high performing
solution which meets customer requirements. Leveraging the best practices outlined
in this document will enable Nutanix and VMware customers to get the most out of
their storage, compute, virtualization, and networking investments.

Further Information
You can continue the conversation on the Nutanix Next online community
(next.nutanix.com). For more information relating to VMware vSphere or to review
other Nutanix Tech Notes, please visit the Nutanix website at
http://www.nutanix.com/resources/.

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