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Configuring NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 R2

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.
Switch Independent

Switch Independent

Within switch-dependent mode, you have two choices for teaming:

  • Generic — 802.3ad — Requires configuration on the physical switch
  • Dynamic — 802.1ax — LACP
Switch Dependent

Switch Dependent

Network Availability

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.

Network Performance

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.

Algorithm

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.

Hashing

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

Configuration

In Server Manager click on Local Server and then Disabled next to NIC Teaming

Server Manager

In the NIC Teaming window, at the bottom left tile under Teams, click on TASKS and then click on New Team

NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012

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.

Adding Adapters to the NIC Team

Team will now be created. I got a few warnings and errors before the team is finally up and running.

Status of the NIC Team

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.

Network Adapters Tasks

Tasks for the Team Interfaces

Clicking on Properties for the Team brings up the properties window.

Server 2012 Network Adapter Properties

NIC Teaming is now enabled in Server Manager

Server Manager - NIC Teaming Enabled

Final Thoughts

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.


2 thoughts on “Configuring NIC Teaming in Windows Server 2012 R2”

  1. Teambazooka says:

    hi,

    i have a few question;

    1. how to set ports on the Cisco switch (best practicies), trunk + portfast + nonegotiation ?
    2. why port-channel load-balance src-dst-ip is the best option ?

    1. Good questions.

      To configure the Cisco switch check out this post about Etherchannel – https://www.packet6.com/configuring-lacp-pagp-manual/
      The Cisco switch port should be configured as a portfast, otherwise those switch ports will go through the spanning-tree process when coming up.

      No Negotiation is when you don’t want to negotiate LACP or PAgP. But for the servers I recommend using LACP.

      port-channel load-balance src-dst-ip is often used so that the algorithm properly load balances across multiple connections of an LACP group. In this setting, both the source and destination IP address is used in the hashing algorithm. An example is preventing one link in the LACP group to take all or most of the load.

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