Among many other new features, the vSphere 5.1 distributed vSwitch brought us the Network Health Check feature. The main purpose of this feature is to ensure that all ESXi hosts attached to a particular distributed vSwitch can access all VLANs of the configured port groups and with the same MTU. This is really useful in situations where you’re dealing with many VLANs and the roles of virtualization and network admin are strongly separated.
Unfortunately, like pretty much all newer networking features, the health check is only included in the distributed vSwitch which requires vSphere Enterprise+ licenses.
There are a couple other (cumbersome) options you have though:
If you’re have ESXi 5.5 you can use the pktcap-uw utility on the ESXi shell to check if your host receives frames for a specific VLAN on an uplink port:
The following example command will capture receive-side frames tagged with VLAN 100 on uplink vmnic3:
# pktcap-uw –uplink vmnic3 –dir 0 –capture UplinkRcv –vlan 100
If systems are active in this VLAN you should see a few broadcasts or multicasts already and meaning the host is able to receive frames on this NIC for this VLAN. Repeat that for every physical vmnic uplink and VLAN.
Another way to check connectivity is to create a vmkernel interface for testing on this VLAN and using vmkping. Since manually configuring a vmkernel interface for every VLAN seems like a huge PITA, I came up with a short ESXi shell script to automate that task.
Check out the script below. It uses a CSV-style list to configure vmkernel interfaces with certain VLAN and IP settings, pinging a specified IP on that network with the given payload size to account for MTU configuration. This should at least take care of initial network-side configuration errors when building a new infrastructure or adding new hosts.
This script was tested successfully on ESXi 5.5 and should work on ESXi 5.1 as well. I’m not entirely sure about 5.0 but that should be ok too. (Please leave a comment in case you can confirm/refute that).
Introducing the ghetto-vSwitchHealthCheck.sh:
Update: I have moved my scripts to GitHub and updated some of them a bit. You can find the current version of this particular script here.