This VMware Validated Design follows high-level network design guidelines and networking best practices.

The high-level design goals apply regardless of your environment.

Meet diverse needs. The network must meet the diverse needs of many different entities in an organization. These entities include applications, services, storage, administrators, and users.

Reduce costs. Reducing costs is one of the simpler goals to achieve in the vSphere infrastructure. Server consolidation alone reduces network costs by reducing the number of required network ports and NICs, but a more efficient network design is desirable. For example, configuring two 10 GbE NICs with VLANs might be more cost effective than configuring a dozen 1 GbE NICs on separate physical networks.

Boost performance. You can achieve performance improvement and decrease the time that is required to perform maintenance by providing sufficient bandwidth, which reduces contention and latency.

Improve availability. A well-designed network improves availability, typically by providing network redundancy.

Support security. A well-designed network supports an acceptable level of security through controlled access (where required) and isolation (where necessary).

Enhance infrastructure functionality. You can configure the network to support vSphere features such as vSphere vMotion, vSphere High Availability, and vSphere Fault Tolerance.

Follow networking best practices throughout your environment.

Separate network services from one another to achieve greater security and better performance.

Use Network I/O Control and traffic shaping to guarantee bandwidth to critical virtual machines. During network contention these critical virtual machines will receive a higher percentage of the bandwidth.

Separate network services on a single vSphere Distributed Switch by attaching them to port groups with different VLAN IDs.

Keep vSphere vMotion traffic on a separate network. When migration with vMotion occurs, the contents of the guest operating system’s memory is transmitted over the network. You can put vSphere vMotion on a separate network by using a dedicated vSphere vMotion VLAN.

When using passthrough devices with a Linux kernel version 2.6.20 or earlier guest OS, avoid MSI and MSI-X modes because these modes have significant performance impact.

For best performance, use VMXNET3 virtual NICs.

Ensure that physical network adapters that are connected to the same vSphere Standard Switch or vSphere Distributed Switch are also connected to the same physical network.

Separating different types of traffic is required to reduce contention and latency. Separate networks are also required for access security.

High latency on any network can negatively affect performance. Some components are more sensitive to high latency than others. For example, reducing latency is important on the IP storage and the vSphere Fault Tolerance logging network because latency on these networks can negatively affect the performance of multiple virtual machines.

Depending on the application or service, high latency on specific virtual machine networks can also negatively affect performance. Use information gathered from the current state analysis and from interviews with key stakeholder and SMEs to determine which workloads and networks are especially sensitive to high latency.

Determine the number of networks or VLANs that are required depending on the type of traffic.

vSphere operational traffic.




NFS Storage

vSphere Replication


Traffic that supports the organization’s services and applications.