I've installed ESX3.5 before with no issues. However, another department asked me to assist them in their install of ESX3.5 update4 on a new Dell PE2950 (32gig RAM/300GB mirrored drive with a SCSI disk array attached. The server has 4 onboard NICs. They have it in their Lab.
We installed 3.5 with all the defaults (since they were just testing it ) and connected the network cable to the first NIC. I logged in as root and executed esxcfg-vswitch -l to make sure the uplink nic was bound to the switch. It showed vmnic0 successfully bound to the switch as "uplink". IP address scheme is correct and accurate. Have checked other devices on same subnet and the addressing is consistent.
vmnic0 is showing 1000Mbps Full as Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5708 1000Base-T
vswif0 shows RX pkts- 100150 errors:0 dropped: 0 TX pkts- 49 errors:0 dropped:0
RX bytes: 7558150 TX bytes: 2058
What I am not certain about is the patch panel arrangement. They have multiple panels labeled Lab and Production. I am relying on the technician who is with me to plug the cable into the correct panel but I'm beginning to think the issue is that we are not plugged into the correct panel. The lights are on at the host nic so the connection is "hot".
The reason I am discussing this here is to just confirm that the configuration at the host is not at fault.
Configuration is good. Kind of a tough spot, if the tech is wrong you could spend all day spinning your wheels. If you have a HUB for testing uplink to the HUB and plug another system in and put it in the IP space of the SC IP. If you you can ping and connect than you know the adapters on the host and your configuration are good.
I occasionaly have to go to lengths to prove it is not the OS so I fell your pain. good luck.
If you have a CDP enabled switch at the other end of those interfaces, then you can get port information from CDP itself. You can run the 'esxcfg-vswitch -B both vSwitch0', to both broadcast CDP from your ESX host, and to listen for that info from your switch. Once that's enabled, you should restart hostd, 'service mgmt-vmware restart', and that data should populate. This info will show up in the ESX server networking configuration. Next to the vSwitch should be the physical NICs, and next to those should be small blue boxes, clicking on them should show you CDP info on what switch that NIC is connected to and what port. You should now also see the reverse on the switch, and see which ESX host and which vmnic you are connecting.
Unfortunately, we don't use Cisco. Plus, we are divided into Teams and our Network team controls the switches, routers, vLANs, etc. In any event, we use Nortel Switches. I could ask them for assistance and see if there is a comparable utility but I'm trying to get this done quickly and their assistance generally will take a few days before they'd even have a chance to get to us. The process to request assistance like this is lengthy.
Nortel should have something similar to CDP, and it does not require changes to view this info on the ESX side. Make sure you to run those commands on the esx host and go to the esx configuration screen to view it.