Microsoft Commits to SDN with Windows Server 2016
- By David Ramel
- November 09, 2016
In a sign that the "software-defined" movement has gone mainstream, Microsoft is touting its latest server OS as the perfect platform for running a software-defined datacenter (SDDC).
According to Microsoft, its new "Software Defined Network (SDN) Stack" plays a key role in Windows Server 2016, which was released in mid-October. The company went into the underlying technical details in a recent post on its Networking Blog.
Windows Server 2016 provides "new layers of security and Azure-inspired innovation for hosting business applications and infrastructure," read the post, which is attributed to Microsoft Senior Program Manager Jason Messer. The new SDN stack, meanwhile, "provides agility, dynamic security, and hybrid flexibility by enforcing network policy in the Hyper-V Virtual Switch using the Azure Virtual Filtering Platform (VFP) Switch Extension."
Microsoft's SDN site starts out with an overview of the technology:
Software Defined Networking (SDN) provides a method to centrally configure and manage physical and virtual network devices such as routers, switches, and gateways in your datacenter....
Software defined networking is possible because the network planes -- the management, control, and data planes -- are no longer bound to the network devices themselves, but are abstracted for use by other entities, such as datacenter management software like System Center.
That site also goes into detail about each of the Windows Server technologies that enable SDN, including: Network Controller; Hyper-V Network Virtualization; Hyper-V Virtual Switch; Internal DNS Service (iDNS); Network Function Virtualization; Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) and Switch Embedded Teaming (SET); RAS Gateway for SDN; and Software Load Balancing (SLB).
For example, just in the section for network functions virtualization (NFV) -- a close cousin to SDN -- Microsoft lists the following supporting technologies:
- Software Load Balancer (SLB) and Network Address Translation (NAT): The north-south and east-west layer 4 load balancer and NAT enhances throughput by supporting Direct Server Return, with which the return network traffic can bypass the Load Balancing multiplexer.
- Datacenter Firewall: This distributed firewall provides granular access control lists (ACLs), enabling you to apply firewall policies at the VM interface level or at the subnet level.
- Gateways: You can use gateways for bridging traffic between virtual networks and non-virtualized networks; specifically, you can deploy site-to-site VPN gateways, forwarding gateways, and Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) gateways. In addition, M+N redundancy of gateways is supported.
And, with its unrelenting focus on cloud computing with its Azure platform, Microsoft brings that into the act in addition to Windows Server 2016. "Microsoft's approach to software defined networking includes designing, building, and operating global-scale datacenter networks for services like Microsoft Azure," the company said. "Microsoft Azure global datacenters perform tens of thousands of network changes every day, which is possible only because of software defined networking."
Further solidifying its embrace of SDN, Microsoft also provides links for learning about planning SDN, deploying SDN, managing tenant workloads and virtual networks and troubleshooting SDN. It also hosts a GitHub repository that includes "PowerShell scripts and VMM service templates for setting up the Microsoft Software Defined Networking (SDN) Stack using Windows Server 2016."
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.