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How to Configure VMware vSwitch from ESX / ESXi Command Line

In both VMware ESX and ESXi host, vSwitches can be configured either from the GUI or from the command line.

vSwitch is also known as vSphere standard switch.

The CLI configuration are very helpful when you are installing multiple ESX servers and planning to script the vSwitch configuration.

This article explains how to configure vSwitch from CLI using esxcfg-vswitch command examples.

List all vSwitches

On ESX: To view all the current vSwitches in ESX server, use the -l option as shown below. This will display both the switch and portgroup information.

# esxcfg-vswitch -l
Switch Name      Num Ports   Used Ports  Configured Ports  MTU     Uplinks
vSwitch0         128         3           128               1500    vmnic0

PortGroup Name        VLAN ID  Used Ports  Uplinks
Management Network    0        1           vmnic0

On ESXi: Instead of esxcfg-vswitch, you can also use esxcli command to list vSwitches in ESXi as shown below. By default, each ESXi host has one virtual switch called vSwitch0.

# esxcli network vswitch standard list 

Add a new vSwitch

To add a new vswitch, use the -a option as shown below. In this example, a new virtual switch vswitch1 is created:

# esxcfg-vswitch -a vSwitch1

If you are on ESXi host, you can also use esxcli command as shown below to add a new switch.

# esxcli network vswitch standard add -v vSwitch1

The default number of logical ports on vswitch is 56.

The maximum number of vSwithces that can be created on a single ESXi host is 127.

When two or more virtual machines connected to the same vswitch the traffic between them is routed locally and whenever it needs to connect to the outside world, the traffic is routed through the uplink adapter basically a NIC port attached to the virtual switch.

Add a Port to vSwitch

On ESX: We just created the virtual switch. But, in order to associate a network port (add a uplink) to this virtual switch, use the following syntax:

esxcfg-vswitch –L <primary NIC> <vswitch name>

For example:

# esxcfg-vswitch -L vmnic1 vSwitch1

# esxcfg-vswitch -l
Switch Name      Num Ports   Used Ports  Configured Ports  MTU     Uplinks 
vSwitch0         128         3           128               1500    vmnic0

PortGroup Name        VLAN ID  Used Ports  Uplinks
Management Network    0        1           vmnic0

Switch Name      Num Ports   Used Ports  Configured Ports  MTU     Uplinks
vSwitch1         128         2           128               1500    vmnic1

PortGroup Name        VLAN ID  Used Ports  Uplinks

On ESXi, execute the following command to add uplink:

# esxcli network vswitch standard uplink add -u vmnic1 -v vSwitch1

Create Port Groups

Next we will see how to create port groups. Port groups are nothing but a group a ports on vSwitch. It is also logical segmentation of vSwitch. Every Port group has a name called Network label. This is the endpoint network for your virtual machines.

In the following example, you will see how to create the port groups and assign the VLAN to the portgroups. In general, VLAN ID 0 disables the VLAN tagging on port group.

The syntax to add a new port group is:

esxcfg-vswitch –A <Port Group Name> <vSwitch name>

The syntax to assign a VLAN to the port group is:

esxcfg-vswitch <vSwitch name> –v <VLAN ID> -p <Port groupname>”

On ESX, do the following to create port groups:

# esxcfg-vswitch -A VM_Traffic_on_VLAN120 vSwitch1

# esxcfg-vswitch vSwitch1 -v 120 -p "VM_Traffic_on_VLAN120"

# esxcfg-vswitch -A VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100 vSwitch1

# esxcfg-vswitch vSwitch1 -v 100 -p "VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100"

View the portgroups that were just created above:

# esxcfg-vswitch -l
Switch Name      Num Ports   Used Ports  Configured Ports  MTU     Uplinks
vSwitch0         128         3           128               1500    vmnic0

PortGroup Name        VLAN ID  Used Ports  Uplinks
Management Network    0        1           vmnic0

Switch Name      Num Ports   Used Ports  Configured Ports  MTU     Uplinks
vSwitch1         128         2           128               1500    vmnic1

PortGroup Name        VLAN ID  Used Ports  Uplinks
VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100  100      0           vmnic1
VM_Traffic_on_VLAN120  120      0           vmnic1

On ESXi, do the following to create port groups using esxcli command:

# esxcli network vswitch standard portgroup add -p VM_Traffic_on_VLAN120 -v vSwitch1

Verify if vSwitch Exists

To check if a virtual switch already exists, use the -c option as shown below.

The return code 1 indicates that vSwitch0 already exists:

# esxcfg-vswitch -c vSwitch1
1

The return code 0 indicates that vSwitch5 is not present.

# esxcfg-vswitch -c vSwitch5
0

Verify if Port Group Exists

To check if the port group already exists on the vSwitch use the following commands:

The return code 1 indicates that VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100 portgroup already exists:

# esxcfg-vswitch -C VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100
1

The return code 0 indicates that VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100 portgroup does not exist:

# esxcfg-vswitch -C VM_Traffic_on_VLAN505
0

Add vMotion Network

To add vMotion network & assigning a VMkernel IP to handle the vMotion traffic, follow the steps below:

# esxcfg-vswitch -A "vMotionNetwork" vSwitch1

# esxcfg-vmknic -a -i 19.86.100.199 -n 255.255.255.0 -m 9000 "vMotionNetwork"

# vim-cmd hostsvc/vmotion/vnic_set vmk1

View the vMotion configurations:

# esxcfg-vmknic -l

Interface  Port Group/DVPort   IP Family IP Address                              Netmask         
Broadcast       MAC Address       MTU     TSO MSS   Enabled Type           

vmk0       Management Network  IPv4      19.86.101.99                            255.255.255.0   
19.86.101.255   64:31:50:51:84:6a 1500    65535     true    STATIC         

vmk1       vMotionNetwork      IPv4      19.86.100.199                           255.255.255.0   
19.86.100.255   00:50:56:6b:cb:d3 9000    65535     true    STATIC         

Set MTU for vSwitch

On ESX, to set the MTU for any vswitch do the following:

# esxcfg-vswitch -m 9000 vSwitch1

Alternatively, only on ESXi, you can also do the following to set MTU.

# esxcli network vswitch standard set --mtu=9000 --vswitch-name=vSwitch1

Remove Port Group from vSwitch

To remove a port group from vswitch use the following command:

# esxcfg-vswitch -D VM_Traffic_on_VLAN100 vSwitch1

To unlink a primary NIC from the virtual switch do the following:

# esxcfg-vswitch -U vmnic1 vSwitch1

View vSwitch Network Policy Settings

The following commands list the network policy settings for a vSwitch.

The network policy settings are security policy, traffic policy and failover policies.

# esxcli network vswitch standard policy security get -v vSwitch1
   Allow Promiscuous: false
   Allow MAC Address Change: true
   Allow Forged Transmits: true

# esxcli network vswitch standard policy failover get -v vSwitch1
   Load Balancing: srcport
   Network Failure Detection: link
   Notify Switches: true
   Failback: true
   Active Adapters:
   Standby Adapters: vmnic1
   Unused Adapters:

# esxcli network vswitch standard policy shaping get -v vSwitch1
   Enabled: false
   Average Bandwidth: -1 Kbps
   Peak Bandwidth: -1 Kbps
   Burst Size: -1 Kib

Change vSwitch Network Policy Settings

You can also change network policy settings for security policy, or traffic policy, or failover policies from the command line using esxcli command as shown below.

In the following example, we are changing the standard policy, and changing the “Allow MAC Address Change” from the default value of true to false.

# esxcli network vswitch standard policy security set --allow-mac-change=false -v vSwitch1

# esxcli network vswitch standard policy security get -v vSwitch1
   Allow Promiscuous: false
   Allow MAC Address Change: false
   Allow Forged Transmits: true

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Praveen April 14, 2015, 1:59 pm

    Hi Ramesh,
    VM is unable to access after migrating to different host. Checked in console, VM health is fine and host is also fine. can i know what might be the issue.

    Please help me in resolving the issue.

  • patrick January 31, 2016, 12:23 pm

    You’re awesome!
    How about a Part #2 for Distributed vSwitches?
    I’m so stuck with that after a host’s crash and woun’t release the dvswitch ports…

  • Thang Le April 12, 2016, 7:52 pm

    Thanks your share detail !
    I try create some of Portgroup and vLAN to a vSS by your sample script.
    So have a script line not work then:
    The syntax to assign a VLAN to the port group is:
    esxcfg-vswitch –v -p ”

    Now, I replace to new script then:
    esxcfg-vswitch -v VLANID -p portgroup vSwitch
    e.g: esxcfg-vswitch -v 111 -p “G11-SharePoint” vSwitch1

    Done, Thanks !

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