Nexus 1000v in a Hyper-V 2012 Environment (Part 1)

In the next few posts I will be going over some of the basics on how to get the Nexus 1000v setup and working in a Hyper-V environment.  I must warn readers ahead of time, this product was just released (as of a week or two ago) and the Cisco documentation is seriously lacking.  What documentation that does exist is thoroughly confusing so it may take some time to work through all of the issues.  Just as much if not more irritating, the Hyper-V way of doing things is just as confusing.  Taking on a project like this will surely improve your skills and abilities with virtualization, especially network virtualization.  I must admit, this stuff can get very confusing at first so it is important to realize that you might not understand everything at first, just be patient, it will eventually start making more sense.

First I need to lay some ground work.  I think it’s important not only in this example but a good habit in general to spec out a project and figure out all of the requirements in order to make sure you have everything lined up that you might need before tackling a project.  A few important considerations when working with the 1000v are to make sure the networking and NIC’s on the Hyper-V hosts are set correctly, Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is installed and configured, the network is configured (LACP port channels, trunk ports, correct VLAN assignment, etc) and that configuring all of these pieces won’t cause any downtime or other issues with your production network.  Ideally, all of this would be thought of and set up ahead of time.  Luckily I have a test environment as well as SCVMM in my test environment to test this with and do not have to worry about any real world down time or production issues.

One of the most important things to get established is getting the underlying Hyper-V network stack configured properly.  I try to mimic a production type environment as much as possible so this configuration is a typical design you may see in the real world.  So let’s lay out the structure of the design.

  • Management VLAN(s)
  • DMZ VLAN(s)
  • Inside VLAN(s)
  • Live Migration VLAN(s)

It is common to break these out through different physical connections, so as an example you might see 4 different NIC’s on the Hyper-V host connecting to a switch that has 4 different VLAN’s configured.  If you want redundancy you can add NIC teaming into this scenario (which is native in Server 2012 now, which is nice).  I have limited resources so I am using a single NIC for management, DMZ and live migration traffic, and teaming the inside connection with 2 NIC’s.  Here is a crude example of how this is setup.

Hyper-V architecture

If you are setting this up in a clustered environment, you would want these settings to be identical across all Hyper-V hosts.  Once this is setup correctly make sure you have SCVMM installed and configured. That is a separate process and therefore is out of the scope of this post, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have, I’m just not discussing it here.  You will need to grab the Cisco Nexus 1000v for Hyper-V.  To download the files necessary for installation (let me know if you don’t have one) you will need a valid Cisco ID.  Cisco also provides some documentation as well as some installation videos links but I have found them to be less than helpful to be honest, there is some useful information to be sure, I just want to walk you through the process myself because there were a few caveats and the documentation creates a lot of unnecessary confusion.

There is some basic terminology to be familiar with when getting the 1000v up and going that helps to understand how and why different parts work the way that they do when running through the installation.

  • vsm – virtual superviser module.  This logically controls the virtual switch and can be thought of as a virtual line card to manage the different VEMs.
  • vem – virtual ethernet module.  This is the piece that actually replaces the virtual switch
  • nsm – network segmentation manager.

Once you have the 1000v downloaded you need to make sure you run the installation for it on the server that is hosting SCVMM.  The installer is hidden in the following location,


When you run this executable it should bring up a GUI to install and configure the virtual switch(es).  You will need to use an account that is a member of the SCVMMAdmins group in Active Directory, otherwise the installer will not be able to connect to SCVMM and will not be able to create and configure the VM for the new virtual switch.

Authenticate to SCVMM

The next portion of the installer is where things may get confusing if you don’t know what you are looking for.  I have linked to the sample configuration I used in my lab to help with this.  Since this is what I used in my test environment I know at least at one point this configuration worked.  It would be a good idea to deploy the VSM’s in high availability if you can, otherwise it isn’t a big deal.

  • Choose a meaningful name for VSM name, basically this is the same as the host name.  
  • The ISO linstall location is, \Nexus1000v.5.2.1.SM1.5.1\VSM\Install\nexus-1000v.5.2.1.SM1.5.1.iso.  
  • From the documentation I’ve read the VEM MSI location indicated is a little misleading because it points at the wrong installation file.  It should point at \Nexus1000v.5.2.1.SM1.5.1\VMM\Nexus1000V-VSEMProvider-5.2.1.SM1.5.1.0.msi.  
  • The VSM IP address should be an address in your management network, it can basically be thought of as the address to use to connect to the 1000v virtual switch.  
  • Subnet mask should be fine as
  • Gateway IP should match up with the VSM IP address, essentially they just need to be on the same subnet.
  • Domain ID is an arbitrary number that is associated with the virtual network.  For most use cases you should be able to use one ID, 1000 in my example.
  • Use the VLAN ID that your VSM is on, in my case it is my management ID.
  • Since our management VLAN is that same as the VSM VLAN (typical in most deployments) simply choose “Yes” here.

1000v deployment config

At this point everything should be configured, the installer just needs to go out and create the VM’s and take care of getting everything up and running.  It may take awhile so take a break if needed and come back later.

Wait for the installation to finish

Everything should complete successfully, if not you will need to look at the log file and troubleshoot any errors you may have.

Installation summary

Almost done.  Everything should be out there and running but there is still one very important step left.  If you notice, about halfway down the installation summary page there is a username/password of admin and admin.  This obviously will change once the 1000v gets put into use but there is NOTHING in the documentation that tells you that this will break the configuration in SCVMM!

What you need to do is hop on the SCVMM server and manually configure the credentials that are used to connect to the 1000v switch.  To do this, drill down into the security settings in SCVMM by flipping open the Configuration pane -> Security -> Runas accounts -> Right click your 1000v admin account and select properties.

Updating the admin account in SCVMM

Then you will change the username and password to match the credentials that you have set on the 1000v. This will allow the switch to communicate with the SCVMM server so that 1000v network settings can be managed through Hyper-V.

In Part 2 I will discuss the intricacies of configuring the 1000v as well as how to reflect these settings in your Hyper-V virtual environment.  Since this is a brand new product, there are still some things yet  that need to get worked out, especially the documentation.  And as I mentioned earlier, the network settings in Hyper-V and SCVMM can be extremely confusing the first time you see them.   Working through and troubleshooting these issues will quickly help improve your knowledge and understanding of how Hyper-V and the Nexus 1000v work together to improve virtual networking.  If you have any questions or concerns about any of this I will try to help, but I am not promising anything at this point.

Josh Reichardt

Josh is the creator of this blog, a system administrator and a contributor to other technology communities such as /r/sysadmin and Ops School. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.