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VDS Best Practices – Operational aspects (Part 6 of 6)

Operational best practices

After customers successfully design the virtual network infrastructure, the next challenge for the customer is how to deploy the design and how to keep the network operational. VMware provides various tools, APIs, and procedures to help customers deploy and manage their network infrastructure effectively. Following are some key tools that are available in the vSphere platform

  • CLI
  • vCenter API
  • Virtual Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting
    • NetFlow
    • Port Mirroring

In the following section, we will briefly discuss how vSphere and network administrators can utilize these tools to manage their virtual network. For more details on these tools please refer to the vSphere documentation.

Command Line Interface

vSphere administrators have several ways to access vSphere components through vSphere interface options that include vSphere Client, vSphere Web Client, and vSphere Command- Line interface. The vSphere CLI command set allows you to perform configuration tasks using a vCLI package installed on supported platforms, or using vMA. Please refer to Getting Started with vSphere CLI document for more details on the commands at the following link The entire networking configuration can be performed through the CLI and thus helps administrators to automate the deployment process.


vCenter API

The networking setup in the virtualized data center involves configuration of virtual and physical switches. To automate this configuration process, VMware has provided APIs that allow network switch vendors to get information about the virtual infrastructure. This information regarding the virtual infrastructure helps network switch vendors in automating the configuration of the physical switches. For example, vCenter can trigger an event after the vMotion of a virtual machine is performed. After receiving this event trigger and related information, the network vendors can reconfigure the physical switch port policies such that when the VM moves to another host the VLANs/Access Control Lists (ACLs) configurations are also migrated along with the VM. Multiple networking vendors have provided this automation between physical and virtual infrastructure configuration through the integration with vCenter APIs. Customers should check with their networking vendors and find out if such automation tool exist that will bridge the gap between physical and virtual networking and simplify the operational challenges.


Virtual Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting

Monitoring and Troubleshooting network traffic in a virtual environment requires similar tools that are available in the physical switch environment. With the release of vSphere 5, VMware provides network administrators the ability to monitor and troubleshoot the virtual infrastructure through the features such as NetFlow and Port Mirroring.

NetFlow capability on a Distributed Switch along with a NetFlow collector tool helps monitor application flows and measures flow performance over time. It also helps in capacity planning and ensuring that I/O resources are utilized properly by different applications, based on their needs.

The port mirroring capability on a Distributed Switch is a valuable tool that helps network administrators in debugging network issues in a virtual infrastructure. The granular control over monitoring ingress, egress or all traffic of a port helps administrators fine-tune what traffic is sent for analysis.


vSphere Distributed Switch provides customers the right amount of features, capabilities and operational simplicity for deploying the virtual network infrastructure. As customers move on to build private or public cloud, VDS provides the scalability numbers for such deployments. The advanced capabilities such as NIOC and LBT are key for achieving better utilization of I/O resources and for providing better SLAs for the virtualized business critical applications and multi-tenant deployments. The support for standard networking visibility and monitoring features such as Port mirror and NetFlow help administrators manage and troubleshoot virtual infrastructure through familiar tools. VDS also is an extensible platform that allows integration with other networking vendor products through the open vCenter APIs.

This is the final entry in the series of VDS best practices blog. I would love to get your inputs on all the discussed VDS design options. As I mentioned earlier, customers are not limited to use the discussed design options. Depending on the needs and available infrastructure, customers can either tweak these deign options or come up with a new design for their deployments. Thanks for reading through these long posts.


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