Adding a secondary NIC to the vCenter 5.1 Appliance (VCSA)

While building my lab environment, I ran into a situation where I wanted to have a completely sealed off networking segment that had no outside access.

This is a trivial task on it`s own, just create a vSwitch with no physical NICs attached to it, and then connect the VMs to it. The VMs will then have interconnectivity, but no outside network access at all.

In this particular case, I was setting up a couple of nested ESXi servers that I wanted to connect to the “outside” vCenter Appliance (VCSA). This VCSA instance was not connected to the internal-only vSwitch, but rather to the existing vSwitch that as local network access.

Naturally, the solution would be to add a secondary NIC to the VCSA, and connect that to the internal-only vSwitch.

It turns out that adding a secondary NIC to a VCSA instance, isn`t as straight-forward as you might think. Sure, adding a new NIC is no problem through either the vSphere Client, or the vSphere Web Client, but getting the NIC configured inside of VCSA is another matter.

If you add a secondary NIC, it will turn up in the VCSA management web page, but you will not be able to save the configuration since the required configuration files for eth1 is missing.

In order to rectify this, I performed the following steps:

  1. Connect to the VCSA via SSH (default username and password is root/vmware)
  2. Copy /etc/sysconfig/networking/devices/ifcfg-eth0 to /etc/sysconfig/networking/devices/ifcfg-eth1
  3. Edit ifcfg-eth1 and replace the networking information with your values, here is how mine looks:
    [cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
    DEVICE=eth1
    BOOTPROTO=’static’
    STARTMODE=’auto’
    TYPE=Ethernet
    USERCONTROL=’no’
    IPADDR=’172.16.1.52′
    NETMASK=’255.255.255.0′
    BROADCAST=’172.16.1.255′
    [/cc]
  4. Create a symlink for this file in /etc/sysconfig/network[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
    ln -s /etc/sysconfig/networking/devices/ifcfg-eth1 /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-eth1[/cc]
  5. Restart the networking service to activate the new setup:[cc lang=”bash” width=”100%” theme=”blackboard” nowrap=”0″]
    service network restart[/cc]Check the VCSA web management interface to verify that the new settings are active

Client 2013-04-25 10-54-37

By adding a secondary NIC, configuring it and connecting it to the isolated vSwitch I was now able to add my sequestered nested ESXi hosts to my existing VCSA installation.

 

Client 2013-04-25 13-07-01

There may be several reasons for a setup like this, perhaps you want your VCSA to be available on a management VLAN but reach ESXi hosts on another VLAN without having routing in place between the segmented networks, or you just want to play around with it like I am in this lab environment.

Disclaimer:

Is this supported by VMware? Probably not, but I simply don`t know. Caveat emptor, and all that jazz.

Update February 2016:

This post is written with VCSA5.x in mind, and is not tested on VCSA 6.x. William Lam has posted Caveats when multi-homing the vCenter Server Appliance 6.x w/multiple vNICs with information on what caveats exist if you are looking to do this with the newer v6.x infrastructure.

Network Simulation in VMware Workstation 8

In the new VMware Workstation 8 release, VMware has added a rudimentary network simulation setting where you can tweak bandwidth and packet loss for a given network card. Very useful when testing applications and servers and want to know how they react to network issues, or if you want to simulate a WAN link. I know this was available in Workstation 7 as well, but it used to be a team feature. Now it’s per vNIC feature, which makes it much more useable.

Configuring it is very easy, but you need to know where to look to be able to find the feature.

Configuring Network Adapter Advanced Settings in VMware Workstation 8

  • Find your VM, right click it and select settings
  • Select the Network Adapter and click on the “Advanced…” button
  • This brings up the Network Adapter Advanced Settings window, where you can tweak the network settings including inbound/outbound bandwidth and packet loss percentage

    There are a number of predefined settings for bandwidth, making it easy to simulate various scenarios like ISDN, cable, leased T3 and so on. You can even modify the virtual network card MAC address in the same window, if you need to do that.
  • Tweak the settings, and the new bandwidth and packet loss settings will immediately be applied to the VM

Configuring Network Adapter Advanced Settings in VMware Workstation 8: Video Demo

Conclusion

I love this. In my day job I’m often faced with simulating how different applications work over some rather wonky WAN lines, and building this kind of feature set into VMware Workstation 8 makes a lot of sense. I do hope they improve it in the future though, as I really would like to see it add tweakable settings for latency as well, which often is the main killer in WAN environments. For now, I’ll have to stick to WANem for the latency simulation, at least until VMware adds latency tweaking to VMware Workstation.