Upgrading NIOC to v3 – Disruptive or not?

Upgrading NIOC from version 2 to 3 is no big deal. But I’m writing this blog post because the official VMware documentation says that the upgrade to NIOC v3 is disruptive and that worried me.

We have only one dvSwitch in our virtual infrastructure and use vSAN and NSX. If this upgrade is really disruptive, we need to shut down all virtual machines before the upgrade process starts. And that would be a big deal for us and our customers.

For this reason I talked to some VMware engineers about it and they said it’s only distruptive if we use features that are deprecated and removed in NIOC v3. For example, user-defined network resource pools or CoS tagging.

That sounded promising.

At that time we had resource pools in use, but we were able to remove them in advance without service impact. In addition, all other requirements such as dvSwitch version at least 6.0.0 and NIOC version 2 are met, so we can try to start the upgrade.

New features in NIOC v3

There are 2 major improvements in version 3:

New bandwidth models
From a resource management perspective, ESXi host system traffic is now separated from virtual machine traffic. This allows different processing and prioritisation of the two traffic classes.

Bandwidth guarantee for virtual machines
As a result of the new bandwidth models, you can configure a reservation, limit or share to virtual machine network adapters.

The upgrade process for NIOC v3

1.) Navigate in the vSphere Web Client to the networking section and select the dvSwitch you want to upgrade NIOC

NIOC v3 upgrade - Step 1

2.) Rightclick on the dvSwitch and choose “Upgrade” > “Upgrade Network I/O Control

NIOC v3 upgrade - Step 2

3.) The upgrade wizard will pop up

NIOC v3 upgrade - Step 3

Note: I strongly recommend to do a configuration export of the dvSwitch. This is the only way to restore your dvSwitch if something unforeseen happens!

4.) Validate the prerequisites. All checks should be green.

NIOC v3 upgrade - Step 4

5.) After the validation check the upgrade starts as soon as you click on “Finish” button.

NIOC v3 upgrade - step 5


To sum up, the upgrade process ran smoothly and we haven’t seen a service interruption. Now we can use the new functions in NIOC v3.





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