VMware vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS) provides a centralized interface from which you can configure, monitor and administer virtual machine access switching for the entire data center. The VDS provides:

  • Simplified virtual machine network configuration
  • Enhanced network monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities
  • Support for advanced VMware vSphere networking features
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Introduction to the vSphere Distributed Switch

Simplified Virtual Machine Network Configuration

Use the following VDS features to streamline provisioning, administration and monitoring of virtual networking across multiple hosts:

  • Central control of virtual switch port configuration, portgroup naming, filters and others settings
  • Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) support to negotiate and automatically configure link aggregation between vSphere hosts and the access layer physical switch
  • Network health-check capabilities to verify vSphere to physical network configuration

Enhanced Network Monitoring and Troubleshooting Capabilities

The VDS provides the following monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities:

  • RSPAN and ERSPAN protocol support for remote network analysis
  • IPFIX Netflow version 10
  • SNMPv3 support
  • Rollback and recovery for patching and updating the network configuration
  • Templates to enable backup and restore for virtual networking configuration
  • Network-based coredump (Netdump) to help debug hosts without local storage

Support for Advanced vSphere Networking Features

The VDS supplies the building blocks for many networking capabilities in the vSphere environment, including the following:

  • Provides the core element for VMware vSphere Network I/O Control (NIOC).
  • Maintains network runtime state for virtual machines as they move across multiple hosts, enabling inline monitoring and centralized firewall services.
  • Supports Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) to enable low-latency and high-I/O workloads.
  • Contains a bridge protocol data unit (BPDU) filter to prevent virtual machines from sending BPDUs to the physical switch.

Technical Details 

The VDS extends the features and capabilities of virtual networks while simplifying provisioning and the ongoing configuration, monitoring and management process.

vSphere network switches can be divided into two logical sections: the data plane and the management plane. The data plane implements the packet switching, filtering, tagging and so on. The management plane is the control structure used by the operator to configure data plane functionality. Each vSphere Standard Switch (VSS) contains both data and management planes, and the administrator configures and maintains each switch individually.

The VDS eases this management burden by treating the network as an aggregated resource. Individual host-level virtual switches are abstracted into one large VDS spanning multiple hosts at the data-center level. In this design, the data plane remains local to each VDS but the management plane is centralized.

Each VMware vCenter Server instance can support up to 128 VDSs; each VDS can manage up to 500 hosts.

Additional details:

  • Distributed Virtual Port Groups (DV Port Groups) — Allows you to specify port configuration options for each member port.
  • Distributed Virtual Uplinks (dvUplinks) — Provides a level of abstraction for the physical network adaptors (vmnics) on each host.
  • Private VLAN (PVLAN) Support — Enables broader compatibility with existing networking environments using the technology.
  • Network vMotion — Simplifies monitoring and troubleshooting by tracking the networking state (such as counters and port statistics) of each virtual machine as it moves from host to host on a VDS.
  • Bi-directional Traffic Shaping — Applies traffic shaping policies on DV port group definitions, defined by average bandwidth, peak bandwidth and burst size.

vSphere network switch management plane and data plane diagram.