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We may have overloaded the network


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#1
Tripredacus

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I may reference network issues with Server 2008 in the past from this thread:
http://www.msfn.org/...howtopic=122871

Which is in the 2003 forum...

We may have hit a wall and overloaded the network that the Imagex Server is running on. Here is the specs from my servers thread:

Computer Name: Imagex (Server 2008 Standard x64)
Config
- Intel S5000PSL
- 2x Intel Xeon 2.4GHz Quad-Core CPUs
- 16GB Fully-Buffered RAM
- 80GB SATA RAID1 (onboard)
- 1.76TB RAID10 (storage)
- 3Ware 9550SXU-8LP 64bit SATA RAID
- 2x Intel Gigabit NICs (onboard) TEAMed
- 2x Intel Gigabit NICs (PCI) TEAMed but not used (performance issues)
- apps: Active Directory, Domain Controller, Microsoft OPK, DHCP, DNS, WDS


Networking wise this is the current usage. Now I want to point out we have temporarily altered the network layout and this isn't normal. Also, we are not using managed switches, even though it is recommended (verbiage made it sound like required) by our TAM. Alas I don't get to make purchasing decisions.

Server -> 24 Port gigabit switch (Netgear) -> Netgear 24 port gigabit switch -> Switch3 & Switch4
No activity currently on Switch3
Switch 4 has 2 active connections. Connection1 is imaging with Imagex. Connection2 -> Switch5 -> Switch6
Total connected clients: 25 (24 + 0 + 1)
Client limit on server: 250
Total bandwidth being used (seen via Networking Tab in Task Manager) average: 10%

The problem is that half or 2/3 of the clients are actively imaging, using an 8GB image (using fast compression) and the other 1/3 are getting the PE transfered. None of the clients are locked up, but the data transfer has appeared to be nearly zero.

If by doing math of available bandwidth limitations (1000MB) *.10 = 100Mb/s. This gives a maximum 4Mbps (0.5MBps) per client, not counting SMB and other data.

If anyone has any ideas as to why this is happening, other than the "you should be using managed switches" angle, let me know. I totally agree we should upgrade our network in that respect. At least I can say we use the same model switches through-out. I will pull off a trace and open an SR with Microsoft.
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#2
Lou@Emerson

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We had the same problem, but on a managed switch ;) Our issue was a bad blade in our Cisco. I recommend you swap out your 24 port switch for something else.

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#3
cluberti

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Agreed - the behavior seems more network related than server related. I do recommend managed switches, and also using Multicast vs Unicast (no word on which you're using) if you plan on having multiple users imaging at the exact same time.
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#4
fizban2

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moving to a managed switch that has a better through put probably would benefit you greatly. the switches you are using i bet do not have a good throughput or provide QoS.

#5
Tripredacus

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I may have found the problem. Yes it appears to be topology related, also related to bad management decisions in the past. I think our analogy was he (old manager) went to Staples with $100 and brought back 10 switches. Easy to fool some buyers too, say "go to the store and buy a gigabit switch" and we get all these "gigabit" switches.

Except they aren't gigabit switches, but gigabit capable. They are SMC switches capable of handling 13 clients. 12 clients plus 1 ghost server. They are actually 10/100 switches with 2 gigabit ports. So we needed to upgrade the network a little bit, but we had to drop it to do so. See, we have enough switches but they are not in the correct place. Here was the old setup:

Switch 1 uses 6 connection, but has 24 ports.
Switch 2 uses 2 connections, but has 16 ports.
Switch 3 is a 10/100 with 16 ports, uses 13.
Switch 4 has 5 ports and was still in inventory.

So I went out and got that out. And did a big network rotation. So now the 6 connection uses the 16, the 2 connection uses the 5 and the 24port replaces the SMC.

I swear, if it really isn't gigabit, it should say Gigabit switch on the front of it! :realmad:
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#6
Tripredacus

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OK I have a little update, and a question because the behaviour on the network seems to have some adverse affects on the domain controller. Now that all switches are updated to gigabit, there is still a problem. Any clients with the D945GCLF board in them, even tho the spec for the onboard nic says 10/100/1000, they will only run at 100 max. I can tell this because the switch indicates orange (100) lights for those ports instead of green (gigabit).

After prolonged use of these machines on the network for imaging, say 2-3 days, one of the other segments loses connectivity. The main switch that the Server connects to indicates an interesting blink pattern for that particular segment. Something like:

5 blinks, then lights out for 2 seconds, then repeat x infinity.

At this point, that particular segment loses DHCP services, and connectivity to the Domain Controller. However, if any clients on that segment (its called Server Island) already have an IP address, they can still access the file server, but not the domain controller. After their leases expire (DHCP is set for 3 hour lease time) those clients then lose all connectivity with the network. Then after a period of time, the second segment (called Gilligan's Island) will go through this process as well, and eventually the entire network loses connectivity.

Neither of the servers indicate any errors in the Event Viewer, except the Domain Controller which only has Kerberos warnings, which I ignore because Kerberos auth is not used. Also, the DHCP log has no errors or warnings either, no NACKs, only lease cleanups, and expiry messages.

Here's the strange part. If I reset the main switch (or any of the switches on any affected Islands) they still do not regain connectivity. The only way to regain connectivity is to reset the main switch and reboot the Domain Controller.

Another strange this discovered early on is that if you reset the main switch, DHCP will not function (there will be no errors reported either) until you reboot the server. It will show no link issues either. So it is possible that the presence of these clients running at 100 cause enough of a lag time so that the Server loses communication with the main switch for a split second, but this is enough time for it to stop being able to provide DHCP? Also when these 10/100 clients are active, the rest of the network slows down incredibly, even to a standstill.

Any ideas about this behaviour?
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#7
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Config
- Intel S5000PSL
- 2x Intel Xeon 2.4GHz Quad-Core CPUs
- 16GB Fully-Buffered RAM
- 80GB SATA RAID1 (onboard)
- 1.76TB RAID10 (storage)
- 3Ware 9550SXU-8LP 64bit SATA RAID
- 2x Intel Gigabit NICs (onboard) TEAMed
- 2x Intel Gigabit NICs (PCI) TEAMed but not used (performance issues)
- apps: Active Directory, Domain Controller, Microsoft OPK, DHCP, DNS, WDS


How the heck are you teaming ports with a non-managed switch? Is this for fault tolerance only? Because your definitely not getting link aggregation, and probably confusing the crap out of the switch.

#8
cluberti

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Agreed. You can't do LACP or any other aggregation with a L2 or L3 non-managed switch, and even failover and round-robin don't work as well when it's a "dumb" switch.
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#9
Tripredacus

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Hmmm... I will have to bring that up then. I only manage the Domain Controller, I didn't set it up like that. Or at least, I manage the roles, not the config. Another guy does that. Is it possible that this can cause things like this?

Another recent development. The bank of clients with the "gigabit" nics also started a new behaviour. After imaging was complete, they all reported hal.dll errors on reboot, which means the Image didn't actually complete. Temporarily, I had them switch to using my test server (unclesocks) which can only handle 4 clients at a time. I haven't moved that fast (damage control) in a while. It sucked because Unclesocks is used as a dev server, so it didn't have the right PE version (for production) set up on it. It took me about 20 minutes to copy the image over and get the PE all set up, but it seems it is moving a little better now. And if you know, Unclesocks isn't on the production network, so I had to do some copypasta to get the image over there. :sneaky:

EDIT: Also, regarding the teaming issue and the wrong switches. Can someone post some docs or whitepapers about this requirement? I am going to have to prove it to the guy in order to get it either "unteamed" or get management to upgrade the switches.
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#10
cluberti

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If your network guy doesn't know you can't team NICs attached to an unmanaged switch, you should probably look for a new network guy. Anyway, to be specific, you'd likely need to know the algorithm being used for anything specific. However, the most common at this point is going to be LACP (802.3ad / 802.1AX) - just try to find an unmanaged switch that supports the protocol (and find a managed switch that doesn't, which would also be fruitless ;)). Do some reading on 802.3ad or 802.1AX if you want to know more.

Again, if you want an exercise in futility, try finding an unmanaged switch that supports 802.1AX or 802.3ad. Or, even better, find out what switches YOU are using there and spec them - do THEY support either of those protocols? The answer, if they're unmanaged, is likely going to be "no". For example, you mentioned you were using unmanaged 24 port netgear switches, so I've done a little research for you.

The most expensive netgear unmanaged 24-port gigabit switch (JGS524F):
Standards Compliance

IEEE 802.3i 10BASE-T Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3ab 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3z 1000BASE-X Gigabit Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3X Flow Control
And to contrast, the cheapest 24 port gigabit "smart" switch (not even fully L2 managed, only partial managed switch features - GS724T):
Network Protocol and Standards Compatibility 

IEEE 802.3 10BASE-T Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3ab 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet 
IEEE 802.3x full-duplex flow control 

Administrative Switch Management 

IEEE 802.1D Spanning Tree Protocol 
RFC 1157 SNMP v1, v2c 
RFC 1213 MIB II 
RFC 1643 Ethernet Interface MIB 
RFC1493 Bridge MIB 
Private Enterprise MIB 
Jumbo Frame Support (up to 9216 bytes) 
IEEE 802.1Q Tag VLAN 
GS716T: 64 Static VLANs
- Supports 16 port-based VLAN 
GS724T: 128 Static VLANs
- Supports 24 port-based VLAN 
IEEE 802.1p (Class of Service) 
DSCP - L3 QoS 
Port-based QoS (options High/Normal) 
Port Trunking - Manual as per IEEE802.3ad Link Aggregation  // <- Link Aggregation, aka NIC Teaming support
DHCP client function 
Access Control: Trusted MAC 
Broadcast storm control (GS724T only) 
Port mirroring (many-to-one) 
Port setting 
Web-based configuration, anywhere on the network 
Smartwizard Discovery Utility program auto discovers devices (up to 254 agents/switches); set system configuration to each agent 
Configuration backup/restore (easy to configure more than one switch) 
Password access control and Restricted IP Access List 
Firmware upgradeable

The unmanaged switch was $259.99 USD, and the "smart" switch is $299.99 USD. Hopefully you can see the difference between a managed and unmanged switch (and this isn't even a "fully" managed L2 switch, let alone managed at L3 or higher - those feature lists are usually pages long). So YES, you DO *need* a managed switch to get link aggregation functionality. Remember, it's not just the NIC that needs to be capable. Honestly, if you've got a network guy who doesn't know this, he'd be fired if it were my employee. This is pretty 101 stuff.

I don't know what SMC switches you had (I noticed you mentioned you had a mix), but expect the results of checking managed vs unmanaged on that brand to be pretty much the same.
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#11
Tripredacus

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Thanks.

Also to be accurate, one was SMC but all the rest were made by TrendNet. Right now we get to determine which is the better route for us, building a separate server and network to handle these clients, or to upgrade the switches. Both would be nice but we'll see what happens.
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#12
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(DHCP is set for 3 hour lease time)

Just wondering. Why do you have the DHCP lease time set so short? This causes a lot of unneeded broadcasting. When 50% of the lease time has passed, the client will attempt to renew the lease with the original DHCP server. And any time the client boots and the lease is 50% or more passed, the client will attempt to renew the lease...
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#13
Tripredacus

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(DHCP is set for 3 hour lease time)

Just wondering. Why do you have the DHCP lease time set so short? This causes a lot of unneeded broadcasting. When 50% of the lease time has passed, the client will attempt to renew the lease with the original DHCP server. And any time the client boots and the lease is 50% or more passed, the client will attempt to renew the lease...


When I worked OPs at an ISP, we used this. The longest an interface should be active on that specific network (depending on certain conditions) would be 1 hour.
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#14
cluberti

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I set this up this way on transient networks as well (usually wireless subnets), and it seems to work quite well in keeping the number of IPs "used" down to a minimum.
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#15
Tripredacus

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Yet again I make the request to upgrade the network. Our main issue is that once any certain (uncertain) number of clients running at 100Mbps start using the network, the entire thing drops to 100. Even the gigabit clients, and heck the server drops too. Will using a smart switch be able to keep 100Mbps clients at 100 and Gigabit at Gigabit speeds? The purchasing guy balked at the prices of full-managed switches, but seemed to like the price of the smart switches.
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#16
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Only thing I can say is you get what you pay for. I looked at the TrendNet options, all of them - definitely not what I'd call top-flight stuff... I'd rather run Netgear if I was gonna go workgroup switching than TrendNet, honestly, as at least their gear is quality for the money. Otherwise you suck it up and get HP ProCurve or Cisco kit and be done with it, and they'll work rock-solid forever and give you good management options. The most important thing to remember when buying a workgroup unmanaged switch is that you will get what you've paid for. When you shell out for something with quality switching fabric and a beefy backbone, and a good OS underneath, you also (should) get what you pay for. I'd say the smart switches from Netgear would be your best upgrade if they balk at a "real" managed switch, as you'll definitely get better performance and some management, which is always better than none.

As to managed switching, there's a reason those things cost so much - switching packets isn't something simple when you start to get heavy traffic, and it can really come down to the quality of the underlying OS and the way it uses it's switches horsepower (not to mention whether it's "smart" or "dumb") that makes a difference in performance on a utilized LAN. Considering the network guy didn't know you couldn't use link aggregation with an unmanaged switch, I'm not surprised you weren't able to convince the purchasing department to spend money on good (hardware) help either. Good luck to you, you might be the only one with a clue where you work... :blink:
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#17
Tripredacus

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Sometimes I think its less "a clue" but more "a care" about things. I've always been the kind of guy that wants to make things more efficient.

Yes Netgear was the place we looked because they are our #1 supplier for networking gear. The other one is CNet and they are garbage. I will do some more research I guess, since my question wasn't directly answered. We basically need a way to keep gigabit clients running at gigabit when 100Mbps clients are on the network. We can get 40% util from the server if all are gigabit, which considering mean limits and SMB is just fine. But running at 1% util when 10/100 clients are present delays us greatly.

The servers don't do much either, since this is only for production and not enterprise work. Yes a domain exists (only because WDS requires it) but there is only 1 domain member. The only thing the DC does is DHCP and both servers act as file servers, and there is no internet access.

I still remember when MS told us we needed to go to managed switches, but management nods and agrees and does nothing until someone speaks up. And I am that person so I get yelled at for speaking up sometimes!
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#18
Tripredacus

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Oof it really kicked the bucket today. It probably happened over the weekend or so. One of the switches was not communicating with the server at all, but the other switch was OK. I rebooted it and nothing, so then connected the Wind to the line and it worked. To think maybe the switch was bad, I swapped it out. Then the new switch wasn't working either.

So of course we try another network cable and then that switch is up again! Easy fix right? Well not unless you try to do something with it, which then caused the entire network to drop! So I disconnected the new wire and the other switch magically starts working.

So something happened over the weekend that caused part of the network to fail. Also very interesting (via testing) I found that if both switches were connected (when the network failed or ran very slow) the Team broke! If I only have 1 switch connected, the team does not break.

Yes I still make the case to get some managed switches, hopefully this will happen soon. However, what can cause the team to break like this?
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#19
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Sounds like a memory error on the "broken" switch, honestly - we had a Cisco that was doing the same sorts of things when spanning tree was enabled. Some of the internal memory was bad, and the switch was replaced.
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#20
Tripredacus

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Sounds like a memory error on the "broken" switch, honestly - we had a Cisco that was doing the same sorts of things when spanning tree was enabled. Some of the internal memory was bad, and the switch was replaced.


Replacing the switch didn't make a difference. I thought that too. We're having someone look at it in the morning, hopefully its just something I overlooked.
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#21
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The issue has been resolved. We replaced one end. Also found out that we only get 1% download speed when not teaming the NICs. Also the Team is for failover only, no aggregation.
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#22
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Your issue sounded like a loop got created!

I was kinda reading through the earlier posts in this thread. Have you replaced those switches with managed switches yet? We use Extreme Networks switches. Very fast, very easy to configure and not nearly as expensive as other options (yes, still expensive, but not nearly as much as other alternatives). If you aren't doing any VLAN management (which you currently aren't since they're unmanaged switches) and don't need Layer 3 managed switches you can look at their X150 (10/100) and X350 (Gigabit) line. They're Layer 2 only and can't be stacked, but they're also much cheaper. We use a combination of X450's, X250's and X150's.

#23
Tripredacus

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Your issue sounded like a loop got created!

I was kinda reading through the earlier posts in this thread. Have you replaced those switches with managed switches yet? We use Extreme Networks switches. Very fast, very easy to configure and not nearly as expensive as other options (yes, still expensive, but not nearly as much as other alternatives). If you aren't doing any VLAN management (which you currently aren't since they're unmanaged switches) and don't need Layer 3 managed switches you can look at their X150 (10/100) and X350 (Gigabit) line. They're Layer 2 only and can't be stacked, but they're also much cheaper. We use a combination of X450's, X250's and X150's.


Yeah I left the "loop" part out as I wasn't sure how to word it politely... :unsure:

We still are just using the old switches, except now the plan has been upgraded to getting managed switches as well as patch panels. Yes we just have Cat6 running through the ceiling and under tables. We do not need VLAN or anything crazy. This network has is isolated, we only want to be able to have switches that allow 100Mbps clients to run at 100 and the gigabit to run at gigabit at the same time. Currently, if a 100Mbps client is running (which it will if we use DOS Ghost client) the entire LAN drops to 100! Then what happens is that the gigabit clients end up timing out and the server will eventually cease to see that particular segment or the entire network.

This wouldn't be such a big issue if we didn't have to use Ghost, but we still must use it to image XP machines with HD based recovery, since Imagex can't do it. And all the DOS NDIS drivers for Ghost run gigabit NICs at 100. Also, some onboard NICs (not Intel, but moreso Broadcom, RTL, etc) do not run at gigabit speed unless Windows is installed. So for example, a gigabit NIC will run at 100 during PXE or will if its just sitting in the BIOS or any pre-OS installed state, it will report to the switch its 100, make the light orange, then put Windows on it, install the driver and the light turns green/gigabit. Really annoying.
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#24
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Sounds like some bargain basement switches there - a 100Mb client shouldn't knock the switching backplane down to 100Mb for ALL ports. That's just crazy talk :).
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#25
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Sounds like some bargain basement switches there - a 100Mb client shouldn't knock the switching backplane down to 100Mb for ALL ports. That's just crazy talk :).


Well when we use Ghost, its not coming from the 2008 server. The host for Ghost is 2003. So Ghost "Multicast" is emulated, and 2003 doesn't do multicast. The end result is that 2003 Unicasts the image to all interfaces, which is why the entire network slows down.

I summed it up today in discussion, one of my underlings said "i'll wait until later to run this Ghost because I don't want to slow down the network" and I responded no go ahead, the more it gets slow and breaks, maybe we'll get lucky and management will open the wallet for the right hardware for us. :whistle:
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