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We are getting host virtualization questions with increasing frequency; however, to date we haven't had a Meta discussion to explicitly cover cases like this.

What do we do with host virtualization questions? Specifically, if someone sets up virtual hosts on their server inside:

  • VMWare
  • VirtualBox
  • Xen
  • qemu
  • Proxmox
  • Any other host virtualization service (note: I am excluding GNS3, Packet Tracer, or OpenFlow services in this discussion about host virtualization services)

Are host virtualization design or troubleshooting questions on-topic?


A screen capture of "VM Hosts connectivity problem":

vm question

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Are host virtualization design or troubleshooting questions on-topic?

Short answer: No.

Host virtualization solutions exist to turn one physical server into many virtual servers. The community overwhelmingly voted purely server questions off-topic .

Could we ever make exceptions for VM questions? Of course, this meta Q&A is intended to cover run-of-the-mill host virtualization questions, such as the one in the screenshot.

Some guidelines...

Off-topic:

  • If the scope of the relevant question details are contained inside a virtual machine, or if the question is limited to the configuration of linux / windows server, then the question is off-topic. Examples:

    • Someone sets up a virtual machine, but cannot figure out how to implement bridged networking inside their hypervisor or VM server.
    • Someone sets up a virtual machine, but cannot figure out how to implement NAT to their hypervisor NIC or VM NIC.
    • Someone sets up a virtual machine, but cannot understand how to set the default gateway on their VMs.
    • Someone sets up a series of networks inside their virtual machine, and cannot understand how to configure one of the servers to static route to another network inside or outside the VM environment.

On-topic:

If the scope of the question details

  • require configuration or changes to on-topic network infrastructure outside their virtual machine server.
  • require configuring routers, switches, or firewalls in GNS3
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  • Note: n1000v isn't a switch; it's the nx-os control plane of a switch. it boils down to syntax-sugar for configuring a vmware vDS. (purpose being to separate network and server admin duties.) How to actually configure a vDS would be a server topic in almost all cases. – Ricky Beam Jan 6 '15 at 0:06
  • @RickyBeam, I edited... thoughts? – Mike Pennington Jan 9 '15 at 10:48
  • I can't +1 it again :-) – Ricky Beam Jan 10 '15 at 0:01
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The industry is blurring the lines more and more between "Server Admins" and "Networking Admins", with things like SDN being very relevant for both Server and Network techs to understand and factor when designing solutions.

I think if the topic is purely about Virtualization... which is to say, if we could replace the words "VM" with "Server" and the question still makes sense... then its off topic.

BUT, if the question involves deploying, designing, or engineering a network that must consider SDN, or other places where the physical network interacts with the virtual network gear (*See note below), then I would consider that on topic.

* To be more specific, if a question is something along the lines of "what should I set my default gateway to given this network topology?", then I believe that to be on-topic for Network Engineering. But if the question is "How do I set my default gateway...?", then I feel that would squarely land it off topic.

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    We agree the lines blur, and I think I made it clear that some vm / sdn infrastructure should be on topic. We also seem to agree that this site isn't here for supporting people's Linux servers and their network problems. If we start that, this site will just become the dumping ground of choice for everyone who can't figure out linux network servers configuration. You mentioned sdn, but the problem with sdn is that nobody knows what it really means. Please be specific if you think my answer leaves a gap – Mike Pennington Jan 5 '15 at 20:21
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    I can't agree with the condition of "physical network interacts with the virtual network gear"; that's just too broad and leaves what are normally "server configuration problems" open to being on-topic – Mike Pennington Jan 9 '15 at 10:53
  • I see your point. I edited my original answer for clarity to hopefully, exclude "server configuration problems" from being on-topic. Let me know what you think. – Eddie Jan 9 '15 at 17:40
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Not sure if some of you guys have come to the 21th century yet but telling me that a VMWARE-NSX-T Software Defined Switch does not fall under Networking shows something special. You guys set policy's that are outdated and are more in line with Seinfelds Soup Nazi. So don't call the site Network Engineering but rather selective Network Engineering.

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  • @NoSoup4you, the community has decided what is or is not on-topic here. You submit a meta question to see what the community decides. I went out of my way to point you to the place to get your answer, but you have spent a lot of time and energy arguing, and you could already have your answer. Server Fault deals with business networking and servers, and what goes on inside a server, including the route your are trying to set in your server. That simply is off-topic for NE. – Ron Maupin Apr 24 at 22:24
  • I've used NSX. It's a convoluted stormy-sea of host configuration. Actual, real-world switches that handle the actual, physical connections need very minimal configuration to support the mess. There are much better places to ask VMWARE and NSX questions. – Ricky Beam May 24 at 23:50
  • Yes a place where site moderators have made it into the current century and don't think a Cisco or Juniper boat anchor is the only networking equipment. – NoSoup4you May 26 at 19:01
  • @NoSoup4you, it is not the moderators who decide what is on- or off-topic here, it is the community, and you have comments and votes here from non-moderator community members. In fact, there were no reopen votes for your question. The moderators just fulfill the community wishes. The community has decided that these questions are off-topic here, and your question would just sit, unanswered. I tried to guide you to the place to get an answer to your question. – Ron Maupin Jul 19 at 5:37

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