Teaming options in an FCoE environment

Unanswered Question
Jun 2nd, 2010

Hi everybody!
Does anybody already have any practical experience in using CNAs in an FCoE environment configured with NIC teaming options?
I want to dual-connect a dual-port CNA to two Cisco Nexus 5000 Series switches both configured as FCFs and connected to two different FC fabrics.
How does an active-standby, active-active transmit load-balancing or host port-channel configuration on the CNA effect FCoE traffic?

The dual-port CNA should be seen as two Ethernet NICs and two FC HBAs by the Windows OS. With a NIC teaming configuration in active-standby mode I assume that one CNA port in the failover team is passive while that same CNA port can be used for forwarding FC traffic encapsulated in FCoE. This should be possible because the multipathing software running on the host where the CNA is installed should still see two possible paths to a target using the two FC HBAs presented to the host OS assuming the target is dual-connected to both FC fabrics.
Can anybody say if this is correct? How will this apply to a host port-channel configuration on the CNA when the Nexus 5000 Series Switches are running in vPC mode?

Another aspect I am interested in relates to VLAN configuration. From my perspective the FCoE frames sent through the CNA ports should always be tagged with the corresponding FCoE VLAN ID discovered through the FIP VLAN discovery phase regardless of which VLANs are configured on a teamed virtual adapter. Is this correct? Thank you in advance for any comments.
Best regards,
I have this problem too.
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Darren Ramsey Wed, 06/02/2010 - 10:58

I've tested the Q8152 and EMU10102-FX with dual 5020s in a VPC configuration.  Active/Passive setup is pretty straightforward with the Q or E teaming tools.  The Ethernet gets teamed but the FCOE Vlan does not since they are unique and should be on different fabrics.  With EMC PowerPath you can then see IOPS going up both ports, but the IP portion is Active/Passive.  As for a VPC portchannel down to the host, I did test in 4.1 and it seemed to work but was a little flakey and needed to bind the VFC to the portchannel.  Running 4.2 now and have not tested VPC to the host.   We went with Active/Passive teaming as easier to setup and we didn't really need a full 10G, let alone 20G.

florian.mahr Wed, 06/02/2010 - 12:39

Hi Darren,

Thank you very much for your comment. Did you utilize the active-active transmit load-balancing mode on the QLE8152 when you configured the vPC PortChannel on the two Nexus 5000 Series switches towards the host? As far as I know this is the only active-active mode that is currently available on the QLE8152. I do not know when PortChanneling using LACP on the Ethernet portion of the CNA will be supported by QLogic.

Best regards,


Darren Ramsey Wed, 06/02/2010 - 14:40

We do active/passive, but I just labbed it up active/active.  Loadbalance mode on the 8152 and VPC on the NX with port-channel mode ON to the host.  FCOE worked just fine, but I could not send IP traffic when both 8152 ports were active.  Did not have time to do any debugging.  What are you seeing?

florian.mahr Thu, 06/03/2010 - 01:53

Until today my test equipment has not yet been supplied so all considerations are purely theoretical.

The behavior in the scenario you described is the one I would have expected in this particular case because of the following:

If you set channel-mode ON on both Nexus 5000 Series switches these expect the host to be configured for static port-channeling as well without using LACP for negotiating port-channel capabilities. But this also means that the Nexus 5000 Series switches expect the traffic being sent by the downstream host to carry the same source MAC address. However, when using active-active transmit load-balancing traffic sent by the host to both upstream switches uses two different source MAC addresses, i.e. the MAC address of the corresponding physical port. So this should be the reason why no traffic can be sent in this kind of configuration as the switches will drop any received frames with different source MAC addresses. I think that transmit load-balancing should not be used in a vPC configuration like yours.

Best regards,


Darren Ramsey Thu, 06/10/2010 - 07:51


We don't run Loadbalance mode on the Qlogic 8150/2, just Failover. I labbed up LB with VPC because you had no way to test and it sounded like you wanted information on interoperability. Anyway, Qlogic should have 802.3ad Static and LACP support Q3, I'm told sometime around August. Emulex OneConnect should have support for both today.


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