The purpose of NIC teaming is to combine two or more network adapters and create a single logical adapter to provide fault tolerance or bandwidth aggregation. Adapters that are member of the team each maintain their own separate physical existence and each connect to separate network cables. In earlier versions of windows nic teaming was available only through third party software solutions such as broadcom, HP, Intel etc. and require specific adapter hardware. With Server 2012 you can team any two network adapters irrespective of their manufacturer.
There are three basic teaming modes in Server 2012 that you can choose from.
Static Teaming – This is a switch-aware configuration. Since this configuration requires switch participation, both the adapters need to be connected to the same physical switch.
Switch Independent Teaming – In this case switches are not aware of the status of the network adapter so they can be connected to different switches to provide fault tolerance at the switch level too.
LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) – Similar to Static teaming this mode requires switch to be pre-configured to enable LACP. Once enabled it can be used to combine multiple nics into one logical link any time the switch is reconfigured. This removes the administrative overhead and makes network admin’s job easier.
Once the teaming mode is chosen you need to decide on the load balancing mode. This would determine how traffic is handled once it passes to the NIC team. Following are the three load-balancing modes.
Address Hash – This mode load balances outbound traffic across all the active nics but only receives inbound traffic via one of the nics in the team. This mode can work well if your server has little traffic inbound and a lot of traffic outbound.
Hyper-V Port – This mode can be deployed when you are configuring nic team to be used on a server with Hyper-V role. In this mode all the VM traffic will be distributed among the network team and each VMs inbound and outbound network traffic will be handled by a specific active NIC
Dynamic – This load balancing mode was introduced with the Server 2012 R2. It gives you the best of the other two load balancing modes. In this mode both inbound and outbound traffic can be load balanced across multiple NIC team members based on the concept of flowlets which breaks up large flow of data into smaller pieces in order to deliver optimal data transfer.
Steps to configure NIC Teaming.
1. Logon to your windows 2012 Server with administrative privileges and open server manager.
2. Click local server from the menu option on the left hand side.
3. Click on the disabled link next to NIC teaming to open the dialog box.
4. Click on all the adapters that you want to create the team with.
5. Now right click and select Add New Team option from context menu
6. Enter the name of the new team and ensure the network adapters that you want are selected.Under additional properties configure the nic teaming and load balancing mode. You might need to select a standby adapter and primary team interface(VLAN membership) depending on your teaming and load balancing choices. Click OK.
6. Verify that the NIC Team is created under Team Section in Adapters and Interfaces dialog box