Labworks 2:1-4 : Converged Hyper-V Switching like a boss

Greetings Labworks fans, today we’re going to learn how to build converged Hyper-V switches, switches so cool they’re nearly identical to the ones available to enterprise users with their fancy System Center licenses.

If you’re coming from a VMware mindset, a Hyper-V converged switch is probably most similar to Distributed vSwitches, though admittedly I’m a total n00b on VMware, so take that statement with a grain of salt. The idea here is to build an advanced switching fabric on your Hyper-V hosts that is fault-tolerant & performance-oriented, and like a Distributed vSwitch, common among your physical hosts and your guests. 

This is one of my favorite topics because I have a serious & problematic love-affair with LACP and a Terrets-like urge to team things up & jumbo, but you don’t need an LACP-capable switch or jumbo frame to enjoy Converged Switching goodness.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Goals

  1. Prepare the physical switch for Jumbo Frames
  2. Understand LBFO: Microsoft’s Load Balancing/Fail Over teaming technology introduced in Server 2012
  3. Enable LACP on the Switch and on the Server
  4. Build the Switch on the Team & Next Steps

Required Tools ‘n Tech:

  • Server 2012 or 2012 R2…sorry Windows 8.1 Professional/Enterprise fans…LBFO is not available for 8.1. I know, I feel your pain. But the naked Hyper-V 3.0 Hypervisor (Core only) is free, so what are you waiting for?
  • A switch, preferably gigabit. LACP not required but a huge performance multiplier
  • NICs: As in plural. You need at least two. Yes, you can use your Keepin’ it RealTek NICs..Hyper-V doesn’t care that your NICs aren’t server-grade, but I advise against consumer-NICs for production!!

Schematic

State of the Lab as of today. Ag_node_1 is new, with a core i7 Haswell (Yay!), ag_node_2 is the same, still running CSVs off my ZFS box, and check it out, bottom right: a new host, SMB1:

Lab 2 - Daisetta Labs overview

SMB1 Detail:

 

labworks 2

2:1 Prepare the Physical Switch for Jumbo Frames

You can skip this section if all you have at your disposal is a dumb switch.

Commands below are off of a Cisco 2960s. Commands are similar on the new SG300 & 500 series Cisco switches. PowerConnect 5548 switches from Dell aren’t terribly different either, though I seem to recall you have you enable jumbo mtu on each port as well as the switch.

First we’re going to want to turn on Jumbo Frames, system-wide, which usually requires a reload of your switch, so schedule for a maintenance window!

daisettalabs.net(config)#system mtu jumbo 9198

You can run a show system mtu after the reload to be sure the switch is ready for the corpulent frames you will soon send its way:

daisettalabs.net#show system mtu

System MTU size is 1514 bytes
System Jumbo MTU size is 9198 bytes
System Alternate MTU size is 1514 bytes
Routing MTU size is 1514 bytes

2:2 Load Balancing & Failover

Load Balancing & Failover, or LBFO as it’s known, was the #1 feature I was looking forward to in Server 2012.

And boy did Microsoft deliver.

LBFO is a driver/framework that takes whatever NICs you have, “teams” them, applies a mature & resilient multiplexor driver to them, and gives you redundancy & performance in just a few clicks or powershell cmdlets. Let’s do GUI for the team, and later on, we’ll use Powershell to build a switch on that team.

Sidenote: Don’t bother applying IP addresses, VLANs to your LBFO-destined physical NICs at this point. Do bother installing your manufacturer’s latest driver, or hacking one on as I’ve had to do with my new ag_node_1 Intel NIC. (SideSideNote: as this blogger states, Intel can eat a bag of d**** for dropping so many NICs from Server 2012 support. Broadcom, for all the hassles I’ve had with them, still updates drivers on four year old cards!)

On SMB1 from the above schematic, I’ve got five gigabit NICs. One is a RealTek on the motherboard, and the other four are Intel; 1-4 on a PCIe Quad Gigabit network card, i350 x4 I believe.

nics1

The RealTek NIC has a static IP and is my management interface for the purposes of this labworks. We’ll only be teaming the four Intel NICs here. Be sure to leave at least one of your NICs out of the LBFO team unless you are sitting in front of your server console; you can always add it in later.

Launch Server Manager in the GUI and click on “All Servers,” then right click on SMB1 and select Configure NIC Teaming:

nics2

A new window will emerge,titled, NIC Teaming.

In the NIC Teaming window, notice on the right the five GbE adapters you have and their status (Green Arrow). Click on “Tasks” and select “New Team” (Red Arrow):

nics3

The New Team window is where all the magic happens. Let’s pause for a moment and go to our switch.

On my old 2960s, we’re building LACP-flavored port channels by using the “channel group _ mode active” command, which tells the switch to use the genuine-article LACP/802.11ax protocol rather than the older Cisco proprietary Port Aggregation Protocol (PAgp) system, which is activated by running “channel group _ mode auto.”

However, if you have a newer switch, perhaps a nice little SG 300 or something similar, PAgp is dead and not available to you, but the process for LACP is like the old PAgp command: “channel group _ mode auto”  will turn on LACP.

Here’s the 2960s process. Note that my Intel NICs are plugged into Gig 1/0/20-23, with spanning-tree portfast enabled (which we’ll change once our Converged virtual switch is built):

daisettalabs.net#show run int gig 1/0/20
Building configuration...

Current configuration : 63 bytes
!
interface GigabitEthernet1/0/20
spanning-tree portfast

daisettalabs.net#conf t
Enter configuration commands, one per line. End with CNTL/Z.
daisettalabs.net(config)#int range gig 1/0/20-23
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#description SMB1 TEAM
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#speed 1000
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#duplex full
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#channel-group 3 mode active
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#switchport mode trunk
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#
daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#do wr
Building configuration...
[OK]

Presto! That wasn’t so hard was it?

Note that I’ve trunked all four interfaces; that’s important in Hyper-V Converged switching. We’ll need to trunk po3 as well. 

Let’s take a look at our new port channel:

daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#do show run int po3
Building configuration…

Current configuration : 54 bytes
!
interface Port-channel3
switchport mode trunk
end

daisettalabs.net(config-if-range)#

Now let’s check the state of the port channel:

daisettalabs.net#show etherchannel summary
Flags: D - down P - bundled in port-channel
I - stand-alone s - suspended
H - Hot-standby (LACP only)
R - Layer3 S - Layer2
U - in use f - failed to allocate aggregator

M - not in use, minimum links not met u - unsuitable for bundling w - waiting to be aggregated d - default port Number of channel-groups in use: 3 Number of aggregators: 3 Group Port-channel Protocol Ports ------+-------------+-----------+----------------------------------------------- 
1 Po1(SU) LACP Gi1/0/1(P) Gi1/0/2(P) Gi1/0/3(P)
2 Po2(SU) LACP Gi1/0/11(D) Gi1/0/13(P) Gi1/0/14(P) Gi1/0/15(P) Gi1/0/16(P) 
3 Po3(SD) LACP Gi1/0/19(s) Gi1/0/20(D) Gi1/0/21(s) Gi1/0/22(s) Gi1/0/23(D)

po3 is in total disarray, but not for long. Back on SMB1, it’s time to team those NICs:

nic5

I’m a fan of naming-conventions even if this screenshot doesn’t show it; All teams on all hosts have the same “Daisetta-Team” name, and I usually rename NICs as well, but honestly, you could go mad trying to understand why Windows names NICs the way it does (Seriously. It’s a Thing). There’s no /dev/eth0 for us in MIcroosft-land, it’s always something obscure and strange and out-of-sequence, which is part of the reason why Converged Switching & LBFO kick ass; who cares what your interfaces are named so long as they are identically configured?

If you don’t have an LACP-capable switch, you’ll select “Switch Independent” here.

As for Load Balancing modes: in server 2012, you get Address Hash (Source/Dest MAC or IP in Layer 3 LACP), or Hyper-V Port, which is sort of a round-robin approach (VM1 goes to one port in the team, VM2 to the other).

I prefer the new (with 2012 R2) Dynamic mode which negotiates with the physical switch. More color on those choices & what they mean for you in the References section at the bottom.

Press ok, sit back, and watch my gifcam shot:

Mmmm, taste the convergence.

2:4 Build a Switch on top of that team & Next Steps

If you’ve ever built a switch for Hyper-V, you’ll find building the converged switch immediately familiar, save for one technicality: you’re going to build a switch on top of that multiplexor driver you just created!

Sounds scary? Perhaps. I’ll go into some of the intricacies and gotchas and show some cool powershell bits ‘n bobs on the next episode of Labworks.

Eventually we’re going to dangle all sorts of things off this virtual switch-atop-a-multiplexor-driver!

nic6

 

Links/Knowledge/Required Reading Used in this Post:

[table]
Resource, Author, Summary
Windows Server 2012 LBFO Whitepaper, Microsoft, Must-have though a bit dated at this point
Etherchannel Considerations, Jeremy Stretch at Packetlife.net, Great overview on Cisco aggregation tech including LACP and PAgp

VLAN Tricks with NICS – Teaming & Hyper-V, Keith Mayer, LBFO + VLANs – Hyper-V = still a win

[/table]

Booting to Sharepoint…coming soon from Microsoft

I have seen the future, and for all the ChromeOS haters & MS fan boys out there, it’s a truly frightening one.

To be fair, it was actually my bosses’ suggestion, but he’s since backed off his vision and I’ve been developing it in my mad, mad mind.

I think I’ve figured out Microsoft’s (evolving) strategy in the desktop/consumer & enterprise desktop space. Let’s face it; Windows 8 has been a flop, perhaps not to the level that Vista was, but really, it’s just not that great of an operating system. It’s not very intuitive as a desktop operating system and it’s only a little bit better as a tablet. It’s downright awful if you’re a virtualization admin, like I am, trying to hover your little mouse cursor in the bottom right corner to get to the bloody start screen.

This was taken on a Mac, but it could have been a ChromeBox or Linux machine or a damned Cell phone with an HTML 5 browser. Point is I was editing rich Excel docs in Sharepoint, entirely divorced from the underlying OS. Keep it going MS.
This was taken on a Mac, but it could have been a ChromeBox or Linux machine or a damned Cell phone with an HTML 5 browser. Point is I was editing rich Excel docs in Sharepoint, entirely divorced from the underlying OS. Keep it going MS.

Now 8.1 Enterprise, which I’m running the beta now, is a huge improvement, but where’s all this going? Is the hybrid tablet/desktop paradigm that Microsoft established last year really what they’re committed to for the next decade and beyond?

I seriously doubt it. Or, I should say, I think they’re going to borrow from ChromeOS and integrate Sharepoint right into the desktop.

Yeah, crazy right? But think about it. Here’s what Sharepoint 2013 -and it truly is a revolutionary product- offers Microsoft in the way of a desktop operating system:

  • Abstraction of the file/folder system, the paradigm Steve Jobs wanted to kill off so badly before he died. No longer would we have files & folders to worry about; everything will be contained, indexed, and walled off within Sharepoint sites. Your Skydrive is already like this, but I’m saying they’ll extend that and kill off C:UsersMy Docs and all the other shit we’ve had to deal with since Windows 95.
  • Individual & group sharing of documents, resources, and files by users themselves rather than heavy-handed, antique IT admins carefully crafting NTFS folder permissions and applying them to old-world style AD Groups. This will be fantastic and will kill DropBox creep in my enterprise, I hope. Put the onus on the users to secure & share their documents, with approval checkpoints & workflows in the loop, and you’ve effectively provided a good alternative to old-fashioned NTFS structures.
  • A touchable, App-friendly (yeah you can buy Sharepoint apps now too) UI, HTML 5 flavored, AJAX-friendly operating environment that truly works on all browsers, finally
  • Office Web Apps 2013: a truly kick-ass suite that plugs right into Sharepoint 2013, Lync 2013, and Exchange 2013. Users today are able to open/edit/save/send files within OWA without downloading /editing/saving/reattaching documents. What’s the next generation going to look like? Just think about that for a second. Attaching files, as a concept, is or will soon be on the tech endangered species list as Office Web Apps + Sharepoint becomes the primary computing interface for many standard office workers

Put it all together, and what do you have? A compelling web-based operating system.

Now I haven’t built out Exchange 2013 for my enterprise yet, but it’s the last piece of the puzzle. Once I do, what reason do I have to continue giving Windows desktops to standard, run of the mill users, folks who get by daily running Office, Outlook, Excel, and a bit of IE and don’t need the full functionality of a fat Office client? The only reason to even bother with a desktop OS at that point -as far as I can tell- is that Microsoft isn’t building a full web-capable Lync 2013 client. But they are bundling Skype into 8.1, so who the hell knows?

So yeah, picture that as your future and you begin to see where MS might be headed. Maybe 8.1 won’t be there, but mark my words. Windows 9 will not feature a desktop OS with a task bar, system tray, and start button -at least in the Pro or consumer versions- it will feature the “Metro” UI, with tiles populated by a consumer’s Windows account (as it is now) and/or seamlessly populated with content provided by their enterprise Sharepoint infrastructure.

It’s a new twist on MS’ ancient idea of an “Active Desktop,” but it’s actually quite compelling. Earlier this year, I filled out a corporate expense report on our Sharepoint 2013 dev environment entirely from my $250 Arm Chromebook. Microsoft is finally getting it, after decades of being stubborn.