Back in May 2011, I posted a blog called Definitive Guide to Hyper-V Networking Optimizations, which in fact was a tribute and pointer to the blog series that a respected Premier Field Engineer called Cristian Edwards Sabathe had written. The blog was one of our most read blogs in 2011 and Cristian’s blog received a lot of hits via Hyper-V.nu.
Yesterday I spent some time on the phone with Cristian who is now EMEA Virtualization Lead responsible for the PFEs in EMEA. Cristian reached out to me because of a long thread on the Cluster MVP distribution list which is a closed channel for MVPs dealing with server, storage, network, cluster, etc. I had been discussing the ongoing problems we see with network device drivers for Windows Server 2012 R2 which keep on nagging us. Cristian had been testing at a customer with similar hardware but a different network configuration using the Emulex driver and firmware made available in the HP ProLiant Service Pack 2014.02, two weeks ago.
Two of the blogs (blog1, blog2) that Marc van Eijk and Peter Noorderijk posted received an incredible amount of comments around either the specific HP/Emulex network problem with HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 configurations, but many other similar cases from other network adapter vendors. Most people who have responded to these blogs were able to circumvent their problems by turning off Virtual Machine Queuing (VMQ) or some other hardware offload.
Meanwhile Cristian has written a new and updated blog series, which I will again list as a must read if you want to learn about Hyper-V network architecture in Windows Server 2012 R2:
And don’t forget to read the bonus blog which Cristian wrote yesterday based on our specific setup with HP c7000, HP BL460c Gen8, HP/Emulex 554FLC NICs and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V:
In the meantime, I’ve been having some good discussions with one of my contacts in HP Labs in California. We now know for certain that the HP/Emulex 554FLB firmware and driver that became available with HP ProLiant Service Pack 2014.02 does not yet fix the vNIC disconnect problems we are seeing when VMQ is enabled. The latest available firmware for the Emulex 10Gb CNA is v4.9.311.20 and the driver version is 10.0.430.1109 (18 Feb 2014) which can be download as part of the Service Pack or as a separate executable cp022157.exe.
The ETA of the Emulex 554FLB driver that finally supports VMQ properly is four to six weeks from now (so around end of March/early April). By then Windows Server 2012 R2 will have been RTM for over half a year. If this is representative of the quality control of network adapter vendors, we must fear for the worst with ever faster release schedules by Microsoft for Windows Server.
Unless the new leadership at Microsoft decides this is now enough and dramatically scales up testing capacity and qualification procedures.
Delivery of a networking driver that basically works is a no go!