HP NIC Teaming

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Hi Guys, I?d like to investigate the possibility of teaming the NICs in a new server I will be implementing shortly. The server will be setup with Windows Server 2003 standard and it will be our Veritas NetBackup v5 backup server. The server will have a 400GB RAID 5 array of 10000rpm SCSI disks, and it is my intention to have NetBackup backup to this disk array first, and then I will backup the disk-backup onto SDLT using an attached HP SDLT Autoloader. I'm trying to get the best possible performance for the backups. I am assuming that the more bandwidth that I can provide for the server, the faster I can get the backups done (please correct me if this is not the case). The server is an HP ProLiant DL380 G4 and it has 2 gigabit ports. What I?d really like to do is to purchase a couple of copper GBICs for our Cisco switch and then team the 2 onboard NICs using the GBICs. Is this possible? Will I overload the switch backplane doing this (it?s a Cisco 3550)? Is this something I should be looking into, or will I just move any bottlenecks from the NICs onto the switch end? If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, they will be really appreciated. Thanks, Greg Nottage.
ASKED: May 27, 2005  11:54 AM
UPDATED: May 29, 2005  4:19 AM

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Suggestion on the initial setup – something that was hammered into me a long time ago – “KISS” = “Keep it simple”.
The network is probably not going to be the choke point, the choke points will almost inevitably be the disk I/O.
My experience has been that teaming is a great idea in the lab at the switch and NIC vendors, but in real use, it just adds a point of failure that always seems to bite me in the rear at the worst time (like late May, early April). Every time I’ve tried to team nics in the past, I’ve had problems every 6 months to a year with the software failing on either the server, or the switch.

My suggestion would be: Your GB network idea is a good one, start with it, get numbers on your throughput end to end, then try teaming the nics and see if it changes the numbers enough to be worth the effort.
Michael Gallo
President
InfoTouch Networking

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  • Larrythethird
    Another possibility is a backup network. We've been debating a second, or in some cases a third, NIC is our major servers with a private network for backups only. One gig port could be dedicated to just that traffic.
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  • stevejl
    I have been using HP NIC teaming before it was even HP's (Compaq). I have never had problem with teaming failure. This is a good low cost method. But if cost is not a consideration, a second, backup network would be pretty cool too. One organization I worked for actually had a really nice SAN with fibre channel connections between the servers and the SAN.
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