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Creating and Managing Custom TCP/IP Stack in VMware

In vSphere 5.1 and earlier version of VMware vSphere there was only one single TCP/IP stack for all the traffic types such as management, vMotion and virtual machine traffic. Because of this common TCP/IP stack method all the configured vmkernels had to use some common parameters like, same default gateway, memory heap, ARP and routing tables. This was a limitation of this edition and it ended up some common issues.

As a result of finding solutions for those issues VMware allowed to create multiple TCP/IP stacks with vSphere 5.5. After releasing the vSphere 6.5 VMware created a separate TCP/IP stack for vMotion and provisioning traffic other than the default stack. But still there is no option in the GUI to create a custom TCP/IP stack and we need to use the esxcli commands in the command line interface to create a custom stack. But still there are some limitations.

Let’s see how we can create a custom TCP/IP stack in VMware

Use esxcli network ip netstack list to view the available TCP/IP stacks and use esxcli network ip netstack add -N “<tcp_ip_stack_name>” to add a new TCP/IP stack

What are the Limitations?

Unfortunately, custom TCP/IP stack aren’t supported for management traffic, fault tolerance traffic, vSphere Replication and VSAN traffic. When you select a created custom TCP/IP stack traffic, those options automatically disable themselves (see below screen capture when adding a vmkernel).

Note: I had to update my post after reading the VMware Storage hub and please note that VMware vSphere Custom TCP/IP Stack doesn’t support the iSCSI protocol. I have read it in a different book and I’d like to correct it in here.

“Using Static Routes or set a Gateway

As mentioned before, for vSphere hosts, the management network is on a VMkernel port and therefore uses the default VMkernel gateway. Only one VMkernel default gateway can be configured on a vSphere host per TCP/IP Stack. You can, however, add static routes from the command line or configure a gateway for each individual VMkernel port. Setting a gateway on a per VMkernel port granular level has been introduced in vSphere 6.5 and allows for a bit more flexibility. The gateway for a VMkernel port can simply be defined using the vSphere Web Client during the creation of the VMkernel interface. It is also possible to configure it using esxcli.

Note: At the time of writing the use of a custom TCP/IP Stack is not supported for iSCSI!”

Read More: https://storagehub.vmware.com/t/vsphere-storage/best-practices-for-running-vmware-vsphere-on-iscsi/using-static-routes-or-set-a-gateway

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed my post! If you find this as useful please rate the post and share it!

Creating and Managing Custom TCP/IP Stack in VMware
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Aruna Lakmal

Associate Technical Lead at Pearson, Sri Lanka. Technology junky, enthusiast, a VMware vExpert and a blogger with more than 6 years of Experience in Information Technology more focusing on VMware Virtualization, Microsoft and Datacenter Technologies.

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