Dell Networking VLT concepts

So what is a VLT and what does it does :

Virtual link trunking (VLT) allows physical links between two Dell switches to appear as a single virtual link to the network core or other
switches such as Edge, Access, or top-of-rack (ToR). As a result, the two physical switches appear as a single switch to the connected
devices.

Basically we are creating one logical switch out of two physical switches.

From the left we see how it looks when interconnected physically, from right how end device sees it.

vlt_concept

Configuration steps :

1.Enable spanning tree – RSTP and PVST supported  – step is optional, but nevertheless recommended.

configure

protocol spanning-tree rstp

bridge-priority 4096 (primary VLT switch)

bridge-priority 8192 (Secondary VLT switch)

no disable

Recommended to have a root bridge on VLT master and to set STP priority to secondary VLT switch in case if the first fails no to have topology change when other third unknown device would become a root.

2. Configure ports for VLTi link :

configure

interface range fortyGigE 0/56 , fortyGigE 0/60

no shutdown

interface port-channel 100

channel-member fortyGigE 0/56,60

no shutdown

3. Create VLT domain on both switches, don’t forget to create a backup-link

configure

vlt domain 1

primary-priority 10 (primary VLT switch)

primary-priority 20 (Secondary VLT switch)

back-up destination 192.168.0.2 (Primary VLT switch, management interface)

back-up destination 192.168.0.3  (Secondary VLT switch management interface)

peer-link port-channel 100

Backup links are needed to have a heartbeat messages flowing between two switches.

heartbeat

VLT also would work without the heartbeat but then you can encounter possible split brain scenario in case of VLTi link failure.

After configuring the VLT we should get the following picture :

shvltbrief.png

Now let’s attach a device to our VLT switches.

On both VLT members pick up a port for redundant connection :

interface port-channel xx

no ip address

switchport

channel-member tex/x/x

no shut

vlt-peer-lag port-channel 110

And you are ready to go.

You can tweak the stuff like dampening – just to give some time for routing and other protocols to get online after rebooting the switch ,as ports will get up faster and devices without knowing that routing protocol is not ready yet may black hole the traffic.

You can also play with spanning-tree metrics – to have interruption after reboot as small as possible.

VLT behavior :

vlt_behaviour

You can check that MACs are being synced using the command :

show mac-address-table count

Some of the of interesting points to remember (more you can find by downloading the user guide)

  • When you enable Layer 3 routing protocols on VLT peers, make sure the delay-restore timer is set to a value that allows sufcient time
    for all routes to establish adjacency and exchange all the L3 routes between the VLT peers before you enable the VLT ports.

  • RSTP and PVST is supported only, no other spanning-tree would work properly in vlt config

  • Stacking is not allowed when configuring the VLT.

  • If the source is connected to an orphan (non-spanned, non-VLT) port in a VLT peer, the receiver is connected to a VLT (spanned) portchannel, and the VLT port-channel link between the VLT peer connected to the source and ToR is down, trafc is duplicated due to
    route inconsistency between peers. To avoid this scenario, Dell Networking recommends confguring both the source and the receiver
    on a spanned VLT VLAN.

  • In a scenario where one hundred hosts are connected to a Peer1 on a non-VLT domain and trafc flows through Peer1 to Peer2; when
    you move these hosts from a non-VLT domain to a VLT domain and send ARP requests to Peer1, only half of these ARP requests reach
    Peer1, while the remaining half reach Peer2 (because of LAG hashing). The reason for this behavior is that Peer1 ignores the ARP
    requests that it receives on VLTi (ICL) and updates only the ARP requests that it receives on the local VLT. As a result, the remaining
    ARP requests still points to the Non-VLT links and trafc does not reach half of the hosts. To mitigate this issue, ensure that you
    confgure the following settings on both the Peers (Peer1 and Peer2):
    arp learn-enable and mac-address-table stationmove refresh-arp

  • Don’t use any VLAN config on VLTi – switch will match the vlans automatically

  • Don’t use Dynamic lang on VLTI – static is recommended

  • In a VLT domain, the following software features are supported on VLTi: link layer discovery protocol (LLDP), flow control, port
    monitoring, jumbo frames, and data center bridging (DCB)

  • If the link between the VLT peer switches is established, changing the VLT system MAC address or the VLT unit-id causes the link
    between the VLT peer switches to become disabled. However, removing the VLT system MAC address or the VLT unit-id may
    disable the VLT ports if you happen to confgure the unit ID or system MAC address on only one VLT peer at any time.

  • If the link between VLT peer switches is established, any change to the VLT system MAC address or unit-id fails if the changes
    made create a mismatch by causing the VLT unit-ID to be the same on both peers and/or the VLT system MAC address does not
    match on both peers

  • If VLTi connectivity with a peer is lost but the VLT backup connectivity indicates that the peer is still alive, the VLT ports on the
    Secondary peer are orphaned and are shut down.

    Also the L3 VLANS would be shut down too

Some failure scenarios :

failurescenarios

Overall VLT is a great thing for load balancing, redundancy and availability (you can upgrade the switches one by one without having a downtime) – In stack this wouldn’t be possible.

All info and images were taken from Dell User guide for S4048-ON switch, you can download it by following this link : http://downloads.dell.com/manuals/all-products/esuprt_ser_stor_net/esuprt_networking/esuprt_net_fxd_prt_swtchs/force10-s4048-on_administrator%20guide15_en-us.pdf  

In user guide you can find a lot of detailed info about all the possible switch OS functions and how to use/implement/troubleshoot them.

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