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ALB or Link Aggregation?

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Chris Wigglesworth
Occasional Advisor

ALB or Link Aggregation?

We are just planning a P4500 G2 deployment. We are going to use HP Procurve 6600 series switches which offer distributed trunking protocol, allowing an LACP link aggregate between two switches.
From what we can see we have two options to provide link resilience and improved bandwidth, ALB or link aggregation. The ALB method appears simpler, but my understanding is that it only uses multiple links for outgoing traffic. Link aggregation is more complex to configure, but seems to offer better link usage.
Is anyone using the HP Procurve distributed trunking feature with the P4000 nodes successfully? What would your recommendations be?
Andrew Manhein
Occasional Advisor

Re: ALB or Link Aggregation?

We are currently running Iometer tests on a HP LeftHand P4500 (non-G2) Multi-site SAN to determine if ALB or LACP NIC bonds on all storage nodes provide better performance. After many late nights studying the results and actively watching the NIC utilization statistics in the CMC, I have found that they produce the same performance boost versus using a single 1 Gigabit NIC per node. ALB is certainly the easiest to configure and allows you to split the bonded connections over multiple switches. LACP did provide better load-balancing in certain test situations using 4 1Gbps also bonded with LACP on a Windows 2003 test server with LeftHand DSM 8.1 installed, but the results were inconsistent after repeating the test under the same conditions several days later. In my opinion, LACP is not worth the headache. Your mileage may vary depending on your network switch skill level and access to such equipment.