The VxRail system is a self-contained environment with compute, storage, server virtualization, and management services that make up a hyperconverged infrastructure. The distributed cluster architecture allows independent nodes to work together as a single system. Each node both contributes to and consumes system resources. This close coupling between nodes is accomplished through IP networking connectivity. IP networking also provides access to virtual machines and the services they provide.
While VxRail is a self-contained infrastructure; it is not a stand-alone environment. It is intended to connect and integrate with the customer’s existing datacenter network. A typical implementation uses one or more customer-provided 10GbE Top of Rack (ToR) switches to connect each node in the VxRail cluster. For smaller environments, an option to use 1GbE switches is available, but these lower-bandwidth networks limit performance and scale. While the network switches are typically customer provided, Dell EMC offers an Ethernet switch, S4048, which can be included with the system.
The figure below shows typical network connectivity using two switches for redundancy. Single-switch implementations are also supported.
Figure 12. Typical VxRail physical network connectivity for 10GbE configurations
The number of Ethernet switch ports required depends on the VxRail model and whether it is configured for hybrid storage or for all flash. The all-flash system requires two or four 10GbE ports, and hybrid systems use either two 10GbE ports per node or four 1GbE ports per node. For 1GbE networks, the 10GbE ports auto-negotiate down to 1GbE. A two port 25GbE SFP28 is also an option. Additional network connectivity can be accomplished by adding additional NIC cards. The additional PCIe NICs are not configured by VxRail management but can be used by the customer to support non-VxRail traffic, primarily VM traffic. The additional ports are managed through vCenter.
Network traffic is segregated using switch-based VLAN technology and vSphere Network I/O Control (NIOC). Four types of network traffic exist in a VxRail cluster:
Pre-installation planning includes verifying that enough physical switch ports are available and that the ports are configured for the appropriate VLANs. VLANs along with IP addresses and other network-configuration information are used when the system is configured during installation. Detailed planning and configuration information is included in the VxRail Network Guide.
When the system is initialized during installation, the configuration wizard automatically configures the required uplinks following VxRail standards and best practices. The wizard asks for the NIC configuration and accepts four options:
If nodes have additional physical NIC ports, they can be configured after installation using standard vSphere procedures.
The Ethernet network not only provides connectivity to the VMs and services, it also provides the backplane for the nodes in a hyperconverged infrastructure to aggregate and share system resources. Therefore, network bandwidth is critical to system scale and performance. Today, most datacenters are built with 10Gb Ethernet connectivity, but 1GbE still exists in many environments. To support these environments, Dell EMC also offers 1GbE VxRail models for smaller, less-demanding workloads. The following are considerations for using the 1GbE connectivity option: