Networking For VMware Administrators

When I first heard that Chris Wahl was writing a book about Networking for VMware Administrators along with Steve Pantol – I was super excited and quickly pre-ordered it. This book fills a gap that has been outstanding for quite some time. It’s important to move beyond technical silos and learn the language your colleagues speak, so you both can be effective in delivering solutions for your business.

This book helps the VMware admin learn, speak and understand what your friends on the network team deal with and vice versa.

As we move to a more converged and software-defined data center, the VMware Admin’s role is changing and more and more, this individual needs to be a hybrid admin that understands the entire virtualization stack from compute, storage, and network, this book will aid you in understanding the network.

What can you expect

This book is divided into four parts:

Physical Networking 101

This section provides you with an nice foundation, to build on. Its a great refresher, the OSI model and TCP/IP model are discussed. You might think you should skip this, but its good to know how decisions in the past have influenced our designs today.

Then you move to Ethernet networks and as they mention in the book – the nuts and bolt. Layer 2 and Layer 3 are discussed next, I really like how they clarify terms and concepts throughout the book. For example Ether-channel vs Port Channel, its good to have this terms correct when talking with your networking folks.

Finally they talk about Converged Infrastructure, which I believe gives you a peek into this new hybrid VMware admin that should be aware of the entire stack from compute, storage, and network.

Virtual Switching

In this section, they explain how virtual switching differs from physical switching, its good to get your head around VLANs. Then they discuss vSphere standard switch and vSphere Distributed Switch concepts and designs, like traffic shaping, NIC Teaming and Failover, and Network I/O Control. They also talk about third party switches like the Cisco Nexus 1000v.

The diagrams and screenshots throughout the chapters are very helpful in explaining the concepts and ideas.

You Got Your Storage in My Networking

For those of you that have not done any work with IP storage, this section gives you a great introduction to the topic and helps explain different design scenarios. NFS and iSCSI are discussed and again the diagrams and screenshots help explain the topics.

Other Design Scenarios

Finally, Multi-NIC vMotion and additional vSwtich design scenarios are discussed, covering many design scenarios. The talk about Multi-vMotion architecture highlights many design considerations to be aware of.

Great way to get started

This book flows really well, they walk you through the early days of networking to present day. Its easy to read and they have many “Real World” call outs in the book, that make the discussion relevant. Reading this book, you feel like your having a discussion with Chris and Steve about networking for virtualization and not being lectured too. The diagrams and screenshots also help reinforce the concepts.

I recommend getting a copy for yourself and if you can’t get one for someone on your networking team, then pass along your finished copy to them. This book really levels set the discussion between the teams.

Kudos to Chris and Steve for making mention of the VMware User Group (VMUG) in the Appendix, I know they are huge supporters of the VMUG and its a great way to extend the conversation with your networking team and the broader community – consider joining today – its FREE.

Let me know on Twitter if you have read the book and how it has helped you!