Integrating with the Network Infrastructure

The fourth major decision that you need to make during the planning process is how your vSphere deployment will integrate with the existing network infrastructure. In part, this decision is driven by the choice of server hardware and the storage protocol. For example, an organization selecting a blade form factor may run into limitations on the number of network interface cards (NICs) that can be supported in a given blade model. This affects how the vSphere implementation will integrate with the network. Similarly, organizations choosing to use iSCSI or NFS instead of Fibre Channel will typically have to deploy more NICs in their VMware ESX hosts to accommodate the additional network traffic. Organizations also need to account for network interfaces for VMotion and VMware FT. In most vSphere deployments, ESX/ESXi hosts will have a minimum of six NICs and often will have eight, 10, or even 12 NICs. 50, how do you decide how many NICs to use? Here are some general guidelines:

• The Service Console needs at least one NIC. Ideally, you'd also want a second NIC for redundancy.

• VMotion needs a NIC. Again, a second NIC for redundancy would be ideal. This NIC should be at least Gigabit Ethernet.

• VMware FT, if you will be utilizing that feature, needs a NIC. A second NIC would provide redundancy. This should be at least a Gigabit Ethernet NIC, preferably a 10 Gigabit Ethernet NIC.

• For deployments using iSCSI or NFS, at least one more NIC, preferably two, is needed. Gigabit Ethernet or 10 Gigabit Ethernet is necessary here.

• Finally, at least two NICs would be needed for traffic originating from the virtual machines themselves. Gigabit Ethernet or faster is strongly recommended for VM traffic.

This adds up to 10 NICs per server. For this sort of deployment, you'll want to ensure that you have enough network ports available, at the appropriate speeds, to accommodate the needs of the vSphere deployment.