Deploying Server Core 2008 R2 for Hyper-V: Network Teaming

In our deployment, we are using servers with Intel network adapters, so the first thing is to install the manufacturer driver package because this enables the ANS (Advanced Network Services) functionality such as Teaming.

The new version of the Intel driver for Server 2008 R2 includes a command line utility for managing networks in Server Core known as ProsetCL, which operates with a syntax not too dissimilar from PowerShell.

The commands from ProsetCL I will be using in this post are:

  • ProSetCL Adapter_Enumerate
  • ProSetCL Team_Create

The full Intel documentation for ProsetCL can be found at http://download.intel.com/support/network/sb/prosetcl1.txt.

With all of the adapters nicely named from the previous post Deploying Server Core 2008 R2 for Hyper-V: Network Naming, this part is actually pretty easy.

The first step is to run an export of the current network adapters to a text file with ipconfig /all > C:Adapters.txt. Once you have this open the file with Notepad.exe C:Adapters.txt.

With the text file open, in the command line window, navigate to the directory C:Program FilesIntelDMIXCL which is where the ProsetCL utility is installed. You could register the directory into the PATH environment environment variable if it makes your life easier, but I didn’t do this personally.

Execute the command ProsetCL Adapter_Enumerate. This will output a list of the network adapters on the server into the command line. Sadly, the Intel utility and Windows order the network adapters differently which is why the text file is needed to marry the two up.

Once you have figured out which adapters need to be teamed together to form your various Client Access, Management, Heartbeat, CSV and Live Migration networks, you are ready to proceed.

You need to know at this point what type of teams you want to create also. The Intel adapters and utility support the following team types:

Team Type Team Function ProsetCL Shorthand
Switch Fault Tolerance Two adapters are connected to independent switches, with only one adapter active at any one time. In the event of a switch failure, the standby link will become active allowing communication to continue. SFT
Static Link Aggregation Two or more adapters are teamed in an always active manner. This mode allows you to achieve a theoretical speed equal to the sum of the speed of all the adapters in the team. To be used when LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) is not available on your switch infrastructure. SLA
LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) Similar to Static Link Aggregation, however the network adapter and the switch to which it is connected negotiate the aggregation using the LACP protocol. 802.3AD
Adapter Load Balancing Two or more adapters are teamed together, whereby the utility forces traffic to be routed out of each port in turn, equally sharing the load across the ports. ALB
Adapter Fault Tolerance Allows two or more ports to be connected in a team whereby the ports may have differing connection speeds (Eg. 1Gbps for the Primary Active adapter and 100Mbps for the Failover adapter). AFT

For full details and a more detailed explanation of each teaming mode, refer to the Intel ANS page at http://www.intel.com/support/network/sb/cs-009747.htm

Now that you know which adapters to be teamed together and which teaming mode you want to use for each, it is time to create the teams.

Enter the command as follows:

ProsetCL Team_Create 1,2 MAN_Team SFT

In this example, a team will be created using ports number one and two (the numbers as referenced by the previous Adapter_Enumerate command) with a team name of MAN_Team for the Management network using the Switch Fault Tolerance mode.

Following the command, you should receive a prompt that the team was successfully created. A new network adapter will now be present if you execute the ipconfig /all command named, sadly, Local Area Connection.

Assuming you named all your adapters from the default name using the previous post, the adapter will always be called Local Area Connection with no trailing numbers. If you run the netsh interface set interface name command after creating each team, it makes it much easier to name the teams as you go rather than doing them in a batch at the end.

In the next post, I will describe configuring the network binding order to ensure the correct cluster communication occurs out of the correct adapter.

Deploying Server Core 2008 R2 for Hyper-V: Network Naming

Currently, I am heavily involved in a project to deploy a new infrastructure project for a new branch office. In this office we are deploying a network in a box (pod) style configuration consisting of networking, storage array, fibre channel switching and last but not least, a pair of servers to operate a Hyper-V Cluster running on Windows Server 2008 R2 Server Core.

In this series of posts, I will share some of the things I have found, learnt and discovered on my journey to deploying the Server Core Hyper-V Cluster. This first post focuses on networking as this is the first thing that needs to be configured on the hosts before you can progress into anything else, and also is the most fundamental operational component of the Hyper-V role.

Luckily for us, Server Core still has Notepad which makes working with some of these commands much easier.

For things, first, run ipconfig /All > C:Adapters.txt to pipe a list of all of the adapters Windows can see to a text file along with their current configuration. The most important element here are the names. By default, all of the adapters are named Local Area Connection with a trailing number. For identification purposes, I wanted a naming convention for them all so in the event of a cable or port failure we could easily identify which port was at fault.This will also make identifying the adapters for the purpose of setting up the teams easier.

Open the text file with the command Notepad.exe C:Adapters.txt and identify which adapters in the text file map to the physical adapters on your server. The easiest way to connect all of the adapters to a physical network and then one by one, disconnect an adapter, re-run the piped ipconfig command and see which adapter has changed its link state.

Once you have identified an adapter, use the following command to name it:

netsh interface set interface name=”Local Area Connection” newname=”SL1-P1-MAN1”

My naming convention consists of SL1, which identifies which PCI slot the port is based on, P1 which identifies the port within that slot and finally MAN1 which tells me that it will be the first port in the Management team once configured.

Repeat these steps until all of your networks are named then sit back and be safe in the knowledge that if a problem occurs with one of your ports once your server is in the wild, you will be able to easily guide your on-site technician to the correct port.

Circumventing Intel’s Discontinued Driver Support for Intel PRO 1000/MT Network Adapters in Server 2008 R2

In a previous life, my Dell PowerEdge SC1425 home server has an on-board Intel PRO 1000/MT Dual Port adapter, which introduced me to the world of adapter teaming. At the time I used the adapters in Adapter Fault Tolerance mode because it was the simplest to configure and gave be redundancy in the event that a cable, server port or a switch port failed.

In my current home server, I have been running since its conception with the on-board adapter, a Realtek Gigabit adapter which worked, however it kept dropping packets and causing the orange light of death on my Catalyst 2950 switch.

Not being happy with it’s performance, I decided to invest £20 in a used PCI-X version of the Intel PRO 1000/MT Dual Port adapter for the server. Although it’s a PCI-X card, it is compatible with all PCI interfaces too, which means it plays nice with my ASUS AMD E-350 motherboard, however I didn’t realise that Intel doesn’t play nice with Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.

When trying to download the drivers for it from the Intel site, after selecting either Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 64-bit, you get a message that they don’t support this operating system for this version of network card, which I can kind of understand due to the age of this family of cards, however it posed me an issue. Windows Server 2008 R2 running on the Home Server automatically installed Microsoft drivers and detected the NICs, however that left me without the Advanced Network features to enable the team.

I set off my downloading the Vista 64-bit driver for the adapter and extracting the contents of the package using WinRAR. After extraction, I tried to install the driver and sure enough the MSI reported that no adapters were detected, presumably because of the differences in the driver models between the two OS’s. After this defeat, I launched Device Manager and attempted to manually install the drivers by using the Update Device Driver method. After specifying the Intel directory as the source directory, sure enough, Windows installed the Intel versions of the drivers, digitally signed without any complaints.

With the proper Intel driver installed, I was now left with one problem and that was still the teaming. Inside the package, was a folder called APPS with a sub-directory called PROSETDX. Anyone who has previously used Intel NIC drivers will realise that PROSET is the name used for the Intel management software, so I decided to look inside, and sure enough, there is an MSI file called PROSETDX.msi. I launched the installer, and to my immediate horror, it launches the installer which the autorun starts.

Not wanting to give up hope, I ran through the installer and completed the wizard, expecting it to again say that no adapters were found, however it proceeded with the installation, and soon enough completed.

This part may change for some of you – Intel made a bold move somewhere between version 8.0 of the Intel PROSet driver and version 15.0 of the PROSet driver and moved the configuration features from a standalone executable, to an extension in the Device Manager tabs for the network card. I poured open the device properties, and to my surprise, all of the Intel Advanced Features were installed and available.

image

I promptly began to configure my team and it setup without any problems and it created the virtual adapter without any issues too including installing the new driver for it and the new protocols on the existing network adapters.

With this new server, I decided to do things properly, and I’ve configured the team using Static Link Aggregation. I initially tried IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation, however the server was bouncing up and down like a yoyo, so I set it back to Static. Reading the information for the Static Link Aggregation mode is a note about Cisco:

This team type is supported on Cisco switches with channelling mode set to "ON", Intel switches capable of Link Aggregation, and other switches capable of static 802.3ad.

Following this advice, I switched back to my SSH prompt (which was already open after trying to get LACP working for the IEEE 802.3ad team). Two commands completes the config: one to enable the Etherchannel and one to set the mode to LACP instead of PAgP.

interface GigabitEthernet0/1
description Windows Home Server Team Primary
switchport mode access
speed 1000
duplex full
channel-group 1 mode on
spanning-tree portfast
spanning-tree bpduguard enable
!
interface GigabitEthernet0/2
description Windows Home Server Team Secondary
switchport mode access
speed 1000
duplex full
channel-group 1 mode on
spanning-tree portfast
spanning-tree bpduguard enable
!

The finishing touch is to check the Link Status and Speed in the Network Connection Properties. 2.0Gbps displayed speed for the two bonded 1.0Gbps interfaces. Thank you Intel.

image

Windows Home Server Vail Expands Storage Possibilities

With Windows Home Server v1 being based on Windows Server 2003 Small Business Server you were limited to the features of Server 2003. This means no support for iSCSI in the case of my point today.

With Windows Home Server v2 (Vail) being based on Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition, this opens the plethora of supported storage types to those supported in Server 2008 R2.

Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 both have native support for iSCSI using the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator application from Control Panel. This is great news because it means that users will no longer be limited to USB or eSATA devices but can look to expand their storage out onto the IP space and look into opportunities for backup solutions for WHS using iSCSI.

Mark Vayman from the Windows Home and Small Business Server team posted on the Microsoft Forums confirming support for iSCSI along with a whole host of other features. My personal favourite besides iSCSI is the ability to now name the drives 🙂

http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/whsvailbeta/thread/32844aae-9f41-41cb-8a4a-f6c26ddfdd6f

Roll on the Release Candidates

Well Microsoft have certainly been busy little bee’s with Windows 7 as a lot of my recent blogs show, but today is the next milestone and not just for Windows 7.

Microsoft today released Windows 7 RC, Windows Server 2008 R2 RC and also the Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista.

Vista users using RTM with the blocker tool will be disappointed to note that this tool has now been removed and will have to upgrade to SP1, however I personally think you should just go all the way to SP2.

Going along with the whole RC & SP release, last week also saw the release of Office 2007 Service Pack 2 which has a lot of stability and performance improvements, which for some will be welcome although I never really see any problems except perhaps in Outlook opening a huge attachment.

Windows 7 RC is available in x86 and x64 builds and is available currently to all TechNet and MSDN subscribers, as is Server 2008 R2 RC, however Windows 7 RC will be making it’s way to the public in the next few days.

Office 2007 Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 are both available from the the Microsoft Download Center at www.microsoft.com/downloads.

Have a great weekend.