Re-Ordering VMware Network Adapters the Right Way – Existing Installation Process

Note: Changing VMNIC names by editing the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file is not supported by VMware.We are not going to make any changes to the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file manually.

Using this method we will let VMware ESXi/ESX do it automatically.

These instructions are for VMware ESXi hosts with vSwitches or Port Groups already configured.

You can also use these instructions for many situation like any of these:

1) If you lost host network connectivity either after:
a) System BIOS update
b) Firmware update
c) Patch Upgrade/update
d) Add a new Network Card

Step # 1
Place the ESXi/ESX host into Maintenance Mode.
Step # 2
Remove all VMNICs from the virtual switches except vmnic0, which is used for management.(Note: Make a note and/or diagram of which VMNICs are assigned to which vSwitches.)
Step # 3
Shut down the ESXi/ESX host.
Step # 4
Remove/disable all NICs except vmnic0.a) On-board NICs can be disabled in the System BIOS.

b) NICs installed in PCI slots should be physically removed.

(Note: Make a note and/or diagram from which slot each Network Card was installed.)

Step # 5
Boot the server. At boot time, all removed/disabled VMNICs are removed from the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file.
Step # 6
Shut down the ESXi/ESX host.
Step # 7
Add/enable all required NICs.a) Enable the On-Board NICs in the BIOS.
b) Re-insert the PCI bus NICs into the slots they came from.
(Note: I do this one at a time, shutting down and restarting the ESXi host after adding back each NIC.

This way I can check that my order is correct. You can use this process to check after adding each NIC.)

(Note: You can verify this by going into the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) Console.)

Step # 1 Login to the DCUI.
Step # 2 Under System Customization, select Configure Management Network.

Step # 3 Under Configure Management Network, select Network Adapters.

Step # 8
Boot the ESXi/ESX host.All VMNICs are assigned per segment, bus, slot, and function ID, and are ordered correctly.
Step # 9
Assign VMNICs back to the virtual switches they were assigned to before.
Step # 10
Exit maintenance mode on the ESXi/ESX host.
Step # 11
Now all of your Network Cards should be back into the system and correctly ordered.
More Information on how VMware ESXi/ESX deals with the Network Card ordering.
The PCI ID to VMNIC numbering relationship is determined at boot time and is automatically entered into the esx.conf file for persistence.

The ESXi/ESX host first scans the segment number, then the bus number, the slot number, and finally the function number. This order ensures that ports on the same multi-port NIC are numbered sequentially.

Initially, when ESXi/ESX is installed, the VMNIC order will be sequential. This may change over time as NICs are removed and other NICS are added. This can result in VMNIC ordering that is undesirable and not in sync with the naming convention on other ESXi/ESX hosts.