I am designing our vSphere farm - we'll be migrating from ESX 3.5 to 4.1. I plan to set up a new farm using ESXi 4.1, and move the Virtual Machines on the 3.5 farm into it by shutdown, then import.

In ESX 3.5 there is no distributed networking, so each host has a vSwitch connected to my SAN NICs, and a port group for the vmkernel.

In vSphere (ESXi 4.1) I have the extra option to set up a distributed vSwitch and distributed port groups for vmkernel to access iSCSI storage.

Is there any benefit to this, or should I stick to non-distributed networking for iSCSI.

  • 1
    This turned out to be a moot question. We had the top of the range Enterprise license for ESX 3.5, but they introduced Enterprise Plus with vSphere, and we found our selves no longer with the full functionality without spending more. Guess which license you need for distributed vSwitches?
    – dunxd
    Sep 27, 2011 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


Not the answer you want to hear but we've had so many problems with distributed switches, even with 4.1, that we don't use them at all, let alone for iSCSI. As for benefits, none leap to mind.

  • Actually - those sorts of answers are well worth hearing. I'm not wedded to the technology. I think we'll use them for VM networking, but possibly not for anything that doesn't require migration (vMotion, iSCSI - required for migration, but doesn't need to be migrated itself).
    – dunxd
    Jan 11, 2011 at 13:33
  • I think that's exactly the right approach you're taking.
    – Chopper3
    Jan 11, 2011 at 21:14

I really think it depends on your environment and the number of host you have to manage. One of the biggest benefits to vDS is the ability to centrally manage the network configuration of all of the host in your environment. With a standard switch you would have to make that change manually on each individual host. Another benefit is the elimination of configuring an etherchannel on your physical switch as you can use the load based teaming features available in vDS. That's just a couple that come to mind. Hope this helps.

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