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NT Enterprise
NT's Poor Balancing Act

-- by Tom Henderson

The next time you're migrating a Novell NetWare server to Windows NT on an IPX network, take heed: If the server contains two network interface cards (NICs), you might take a performance hit. That's because NetWare 4.1x supports load balancing across multiple server NICs on an IPX network; NT doesn't.

Novell mastered load balancing by developing the NLSP (NetWare Link Services Protocol) and a NetWare Loadable Module (NLM) called IPXRTR.NLM. These offerings allow two network cards to have the same IPX network number, thereby balancing traffic and offering additional redundancy across the cards.

While NT's IPXROUTE.EXE command can perform routing across multiple network cards inside an NT server, it can't balance connections to an Ethernet switch or bridge the way that Novell's IPXRTR.NLM can. To compensate, use a wider bandwidth pipe, such as Fast Ethernet or FDDI, instead of multiple NICs on an NT Server running IPX.

Windows Magazine, April 1997, page NT39.

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