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VMkernel Ports and Networking Layers: All You Need to Know

Here you will find out:

  • what is VMkernel port and Networking Layer
  • what they have in common
  • when DiskInternals can help you

Are you ready? Let's read!

What is a VMkernel port?

VMkernel Ports and Networking Layers

The VMkernel port is a virtual adapter; that is, it is a special device with which the vSphere host communicates with the outside world. Thus, any service at the second or third level is delivered to the vSphere host.

The VMkernel Networking Layer allows you to connect to the host.

In addition, it processes the system traffic of IP storage, vSphere vMotion, vSAN, Fault Tolerance, and others.

Similar VMkernel adapters can be created and used on the source and target vSphere Replication hosts to isolate replication data traffic.

The name structure of VMkernel ports always contains "vmk".

VMkernel port: A mix of 6 services

The VMkernel port can handle traffic from exactly 6 services.

  • vMotion traffic uses the VMkernel Adapter on two hosts: target and source. In this case, the VMkernel adapter should be configured only for the vMotion service. To have better performance, you can configure several physical network cards.
  • Fault tolerance (FT) logging also requires a separate VMkernel adapter. The processing of information comes from the primary fault-tolerant machine.
  • Management traffic exchanges configuration and management data between hosts. Installing ESXi on the host creates a VMkernel adapter and a standard vSphere switch. If you are not comfortable with the performance, you can add more physical network adapters to the VMkernel adapter.
  • vSphere replication traffic provides source data processing and requires a VMkernel adapter to be allocated on the source site.
  • iSCSI software uses standard TCP/IP networks and depends on the VMkernel network, so if you have several physical network cards for iSCSI, you can configure iSCSI for several channels.
  • NFS is also a dependency (namely a file system) that requires a VMkernel adapter.

All services should not be assigned to the same VMkernel port. It is easier and safer to separate services into different ports (especially FT).

ISCSI and NFS are not displayed as services, because they are connected by default during software installation.

It should be noted that the VMkernel port does not require you to enable the service to be useful for IP storage traffic.

VMkernel port: IP

Each of the VMkernel ports will have an IPv6 or IPv4 address along with an MTU value.

It should also be borne in mind that if the subnet for the IP address of the VMkernel port does not match the subnet of the destination IP address, then traffic will be routed through the VMkernel port.

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