The Turtle and the Hare, which network adapter will win the race?

I was inspired by a recent post by Simon Long at http://www.simonlong.co.uk/blog/2011/02/01/vmware-view-desktops-ide-or-scsi-buslogic-lsi-logic-or-pvscsi/.  It was just recently I ran into some issues with some linked clones and network connectivity, it made me reconsider what I was doing in our VMware View environment.

Like disk controllers, there are many options for network cards. VMware even gives you the link to the KB –
Choosing a network adapter for your virtual machine when you select your network card for your VM.  As a IT geek you are always trying to optimize everything and sometimes to a fault. This was definitely the case with using vmxnet3.  After we upgraded to hardware version 7 and the vmxnet3 driver was available, I really thought it was in my best interest to upgrade all our desktops to the new driver. Why wouldn`t you want to use a network card that could run 10Gb/s and has a higher buffers than it`s predecessors? For me there is one simple answer, VMtools.

The problem with the vmxnet3 driver is that it is dependent on VMware tools. If your VMware tools are out of date after an upgrade the reliable of your system could be compromised. One problem we had during an upgrade was that the linked clone pools would disconnect on recompose because of the network card acting up. Without network connectivity, your desktop is going to be useless and then you will have mad users on your hands. A user could live without one application not working for a bit but having no desktop won’t win you any friends. Also while 10Gb/s from the desktop sounds cool, it’s not needed and if you do need it, you probably have to reevaluate your requirements. 1 Gb/s should be able to satisfy your biggest power user. I say this now but I am sure years from today it will need up like a Bill Gates quote, “640K ought to be enough for anybody”.

The E1000 is the standard network card that we will be using in our VDI environment. Once the driver is installed, shouldn’t have any other problems. I prefer to have reliability then speed. I guess that it way it’s the default in the VMware View deployment guide!

Let me know your thoughts?

-Dwayne Lessner

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