NIC Teaming was a feature we obtained through independent hardware vendors such as Broadcom. A separate piece of software was installed and you went through a GUI to team your interfaces. Sometimes it was easy to do, sometimes it wasn’t.
Windows Server 2012 now has NIC Teaming built-in. NIC Teaming is the act of bonding network adapters to form one logical network adapter. It provides useful features such as load balancing across individual links and failover.
You can do NIC Teaming in two configurations:
- Switch-dependent mode — Connecting all network adapters to the same switch.
- Switch-independent mode — Connecting network adapters to different switches.
Within switch-dependent mode, you have two choices for teaming:
- Generic — 802.3ad — Requires configuration on the physical switch
- Dynamic — 802.1ax — LACP
One of the reasons you would use NIC Teaming is to provide network availability to your server. This decreases outages and prevents failures such as NIC failures, switch failures or something as simple as someone accidentally disconnecting the network cable. If one of the network interfaces goes down, all traffic will failover to any remaining interfaces on the team. You may have less aggregated bandwidth but your server is still available.
Another reason for NIC Teaming is to provide more performance. With many workloads being virtualized you have more density. Aggregate the bandwidth of all available network interfaces with NIC Teaming.
Traffic is distributed on outbound traffic among available links. There are two options available.
Hyper-V switch port
The MAC address of the virtual machine provides the basis for dividing traffic.
A hash is created based on the components of each packet. It is then assigned to an available network adapter. Packets from the same TCP stream are placed on the same network adapter.
Inputs for the hashing function are:
- Source & Destination MAC addresses
- Source & Destination IP addresses
- Source & Destination TCP Ports
In Server Manager click on Local Server and then Disabled next to NIC Teaming
In the NIC Teaming window, at the bottom left tile under Teams, click on TASKS and then click on New Team
A new Window appears. In the Team name text box type in a name for this team and then select the adapters to be part of the team. Click on Additional properties and you can make modifications such as the Teaming mode, load balancing mode, Standby adapter, and Primary team interface.
Team will now be created. I got a few warnings and errors before the team is finally up and running.
In the Adapters and Interfaces Tile you have the ability to change the team and/or move interfaces into a new or existing team by clicking on TASKS.
Clicking on Properties for the Team brings up the properties window.
NIC Teaming is now enabled in Server Manager
NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 is a nice benefit built-in. Usually, you would see this feature on independent hardware vendors’ NIC cards. Now it’s completely hardware independent. Additional benefits are increased performance with the bonding of interfaces to aggregate bandwidth and the high availability of knowing you can combine network adapters for fail-over. Configuration is easy. It even works on VMs running Windows Server 2012.