Amit has a master's degree in computer applications and over 11 years of industry experience in the IT software domain.
NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2016
In this lesson, you will learn what Network Interface Card (NIC) Teaming is, and the features and options it offers for Windows Server operating systems, as well as how to configure it.
NIC Teaming is a technology that allows you to group multiple physical network adapters into a single interface (aka interface bonding) using the combined throughput of all NICs in the team for increased performance and reliability. It provides these benefits through link aggregation (sending traffic over multiple network adapters) and fault tolerance (dynamic network reconfiguration of functional NICs if one or more links fail).
Let's first explain the available configuration and modes of operation for NIC Teams.
Configuration & Modes of Operation
NIC Teaming is configured through the Server Manager tool, included with Windows Server on Desktop Experience (GUI) installations, and is located under the Local Server section in the application.
After you select the NIC Teaming option under the Local Server tab, you will next be presented a screen showing all available network adapters on the right and any configured Teams on the left. To begin configuring a new Team, select the left-side ''Tasks'' button and then select ''New Team.'' You will be asked to name the new Team and set which NICs are part of the Team.
Windows Server 2016 supports two modes for configuring NIC Teaming: Switch Independent Mode and Switch Dependent Mode. The Team configuration utility provides the ability to configure both types of teams. You may additionally configure load-balancing mode and standby adapters here. Any Virtual LANs (VLANs) you have configured can also be used, though the default is to enable all traffic to use the Team. Virtual machines must use Switch Independent mode and Address Hash load-balancing mode to operate a NIC Team, as any other configuration will cause an error and refuse to work properly.
Let's next examine the differences between the two modes of option, Switch Independent and Switch Dependent, for NIC Teams.
Switch Independent Mode
In Switch Independent Mode, all the network adapters are connected to different switches in the network. This provides alternative routes through the network. You can choose between two configurations in this mode.
All network adapters are functional which provides increased throughput. If an adapter fails, the traffic is routed through the other adapters. This results in a reduction in overall performance. When configuring a new Team, this is the default configuration.
One of the adapters is kept offline for failover and it is brought back online when any of the active adapters fail. This does not result in a reduction in overall performance.
Switch Dependent Mode
In Switch Dependent Mode, all the network adapters are connected to the same switch in the network. This results in a single interface and combines all their bandwidth. You can choose between two configurations in the mode.
- Static Teaming: This is a generic configuration that automatically balances the traffic amongst the adapters in the team.
- Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP): You can use this configuration as per the IEEE 802.3ax standard if your equipment supports it.
Let's examine any crucial limitations that may play a part in how it's used in your environment.
Although NIC Teaming has several benefits, there is one downside. If your traffic consists of large TCP sequences (for example, Hyper-V live migration), the server will not use multiple adapters to send your sequence. This is done on purpose to minimize the number of lost and out-of-sequence TCP segments. Obviously, you will not realize performance gains using NIC Teaming for large file transfers over TCP.
NIC Teaming, also known as interface bonding, link aggregation, and fault tolerant networking, is a hardware-independent feature of Windows Server 2016 that allows you to group multiple physical network adapters into a single interface for increased performance and reliability. You can choose between two modes, Switch Independent and Switch Dependent, to configure NIC Teaming.
In the Switch Independent Mode, network adapters are connected to different switches which provide for alternative routes in the network. The Active/Active option keeps all network adapters active thus increasing throughput and if any adapter fails, traffic is routed through other adapters, decreasing overall performance. The Active/Standby option keeps one adapter offline for failover (aka the standby adapter) and if any NIC in the Team fails, it's brought online without a drop in overall performance.
In the Switch Dependent Mode, network adapters are connected to the same switch in the network resulting in a single interface with a combined bandwidth. The Static Teaming option automatically balances traffic between adapters in the team. The Link Aggregation Control Protocol option can be used if your equipment supports it.
One limitation of NIC Teaming is that the server will not use multiple adapters to send large files over TCP to minimize the number of lost and out-of-sequence TCP segments, resulting in no performance gains.
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