HowTo Configure a vSphere Distributed Switch with NVIDIA Network Fabric

Created on Dec 16, 2021

Updated on Mar 16, 2022


This post describes how to configure a VMware vSphere Distributed Switch (VDS) with NVIDIA ConnectX-6 card and NATIVE VMware ESXi Driver on VMware vSphere Cluster version 7.0.3c, and perform basic initial configuration steps to enable the driver by using ESXi CLI interface.


VMware ESXi, vSphere Cluster and vCenter install and configuration is out of the scope of this post.

Abbreviations and Acronyms






NSX-managed Virtual Distributed Switch


Virtual Machine


VMware vSphere Distributed Switch

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.

NVIDIA® Mellanox® ConnectX®-6 Dx

NVIDIA ® Mellanox ® ConnectX ® -6 Dx is a member of the world-class, award-winning ConnectX series of network adapters. ConnectX-6 Dx delivers two ports of 10/25/40/50/100Gb/s or a single-port of 200Gb/s Ethernet connectivity paired with best-in-class hardware capabilities that accelerate and secure cloud and data center workloads.

Hardware and Software Requirements


Configure a VDS

To configure a new VDS, use the following steps.

Create a VDS in a vCenter

To create a new VDS:

  1. Launch the vSphere Web Client and connect to a vCenter Server instance.


  1. On the vSphere Web Client home screen, select the vCenter object from the list on the left.
    Hover over the Distributed Switches from the Inventory Lists area, then click New Distributed Switch (see image below) to launch the New VDS creation wizard.


  2. Provide a name for the new distributed switch and select the location within the vCenter inventory where you would like to store the new VDS (a data center object or a folder).

    Click NEXT .


  3. Select the version of the VDS to create.

    Click NEXT.


  4. Specify the number of uplink ports as 2, uncheck the Create a default port group box and specify a name for that group.

    Click NEXT.


  5. Click Finish.


  6. Set the MTU for the newly created distributed switch.

    Right-click the new distributed switch in the list of objects and select Settings → Edit Settings... from the Actions menu.


  7. In the SL_W01-DS01 Distributed Switch - Edit Settings dialog box, in the Advanced tab, set:

    MTU to 9000

    Discovery protocol to Link Layer Discovery Protocol

    Operation to Both.

    Click OK.


Adding Hosts to VDS

To add an ESXi host to an existing VDS:

  1. Launch the vSphere Web Client, and connect to the vCenter Server instance.

  2. Navigate to the list of Hosts in the SL-WL01-cluster and select ESXi host.

  3. Select Configure → Networking → Physical adapters.

  4. Check the network ports that you are going to use. In this case, vmnic4 and vmnic5 are used.


  5. Navigate to the list of distributed switches.

  6. Right-click the new distributed switch in the list of objects and select Add and Manage Hosts from the Actions menu.

  7. Select the Add hosts button and click NEXT .


  8. From the list of the new hosts, check the boxes with the names of each ESXi host you would like to add to the V DS .

    Click NEXT.


  9. In the next Manage physical adapters menu click on Adapters on all hosts and c onfigure vmnic4 and vmnic5 (Sample) in an ESXi host as Uplink 1 and Uplink 2 for the VDS .


  10. In the next Manage VMkernel adapters and Migrate VM networking menus, click NEXT to continue.


  11. Click FINISH.


Creating Distributed Port Groups for Storage Traffic

This section lists the steps required to create two Distributed Port Groups with one Active and one Standby uplinks.

  1. Add VMkernel Adapters for Distributed Port Groups by right-clicking on Distributed switch, and select Distributed Port Group>New Distributed Port Group.


  2. On the New Distributed Port Group dialog box, enter Name as <NSX-VLAN1624-DPG> and click NEXT.


  3. Set the VLAN type as VLAN trunking, check the Customize default policies configuration checkbox, and click NEXT.


  4. On the Security dialog box, click NEXT.


  5. On the Traffic shaping dialog box, click NEXT.


  6. NIC Teaming

    In the Teaming and failover dialog box, set Uplink 1 as the active uplink and Uplink 2 to standby uplink. Click NEXT.


  7. In the Monitoring dialog box, set NetFlow to Disabled, and click NEXT.


  8. In the Miscellaneous dialog box, set Block All Ports to No, and click NEXT.


  9. In the Ready to complete dialog box, review all the changes before you click FINSIH.


Adding a VMkernel Network for vSAN Port Group

To add VMkernel adapters for distributed port groups, follow the steps below.

  1. Right click the distributed port group and select Add VMkernel Adapters.


  2. Click Attached Hosts...

    Adding a_VMkernel_Network_for_vSAN_PG_02.PNG

  3. Select the hosts and click OK.

    Adding a_VMkernel_Network_for_vSAN_PG_03.PNG

  4. Click NEXT in the Select hosts dialog box.

    Adding a_VMkernel_Network_for_vSAN_PG_04.PNG

  5. Select vSAN(sample) in Available services, and click NEXT.

    Adding a_VMkernel_Network_for_vSAN_PG_05.PNG

  6. Enter the Network Settings and Gateway details, and click NEXT.


  7. Click FINISH.


Done !



Boris Kovalev

Boris Kovalev has worked for the past several years as a Solutions Architect, focusing on NVIDIA Networking/Mellanox technology, and is responsible for complex machine learning, Big Data and advanced VMware-based cloud research and design. Boris previously spent more than 20 years as a senior consultant and solutions architect at multiple companies, most recently at VMware. He has written multiple reference designs covering VMware, machine learning, Kubernetes, and container solutions which are available at the Mellanox Documents website.

Last updated on Sep 12, 2023.