Redundant Physical Connection for Virtual Servers (Erl, Naserpour)
How can a virtual server be kept connected when its physical connection fails?
ProblemIf the virtual switch uplink port used by a virtual server fails, the virtual server becomes isolated and unable to connect to the network or any of its hosted IT resources.
SolutionA redundant, physical backup network connection is established for virtual servers
ApplicationA second physical network card is added to the physical host and is configured as a hot standby uplink port for the virtual switch.
MechanismsFailover System, Hypervisor, Logical Network Perimeter, Resource Replication, Virtual Server
Compound PatternsBurst In, Burst Out to Private Cloud, Burst Out to Public Cloud, Cloud Balancing, Elastic Environment, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Multitenant Environment, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Resilient Environment, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
A virtual server is connected to an external network via a virtual switch uplink port. If the uplink fails (due to, for example, cable disconnection or port failure), the virtual server becomes isolated and disconnect from the external network.
Figure 1 - The steps that can lead to the separation of virtual servers from their external network connection.
- A physical network adapter installed on the physical server host is connected to the physical switch on the network.
- A virtual switch is created for use by two virtual servers. Because it requires access to the physical external network, the physical network adapter is attached to the virtual switch to be used as an uplink to the network.
- The virtual servers communicate with the external network via the attached physical uplink network card.
- A connection failure occurs, either because of a physical link connectivity issue between the physical adapter and the physical switch (4.1), or because of a physical network card failure (4.2).
- The virtual servers lose access to the physical external network and are no longer accessible by their cloud consumers.
One or more redundant uplink connections are established and positioned in standby mode. A redundant uplink connection is available to take over as the active uplink connection whenever the primary uplink connection becomes unavailable or experiences failure conditions.
Figure 2 - Redundant uplinks are installed on a physical server hosting several virtual servers. When one fails, another takes over to maintain the virtual servers’ active network connections.
While the main uplink is working, virtual servers connect to the outside via that port. As soon as it fails, the standby uplink will automatically become the active uplink, and the server will send the packets to the outside via the new uplink. This process is also transparent to virtual servers and users.
While the second NIC is connected and receives the virtual server’s packets (the NIC on the left side of the two in Figure 5), it is not forwarding any traffic while the primary uplink is alive. If, and when, the primary uplink fails, the secondary uplink starts to forward the packets without any pause or interruption.
If the failed uplink happens to come back into operation, it will take over the lead role and the second NIC goes into standby mode again.
Figure 3 - An example scenario of the utilization of a redundant uplink.
- A new network adapter is added to support a redundant uplink.
- Both network cards are connected to the physical external switch.
- Both physical network adapters are configured to be used as uplink adapters for the virtual switch.
- One physical network adapter is designated as the primary adapter, whereas the other is designated as the secondary adapter providing the standby uplink. The secondary adapter does not forward any packets.
- The primary uplink forwards packets to the external network until it becomes unavailable.
- When required, the secondary standby uplink automatically becomes the primary uplink and uses the virtual switch to forward the virtual servers’ packets to the external network.
- The virtual servers stay connected to external physical network, without interruptions.
NIST Reference Architecture Mapping
This pattern relates to the highlighted parts of the NIST reference architecture, as follows: