Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Incorporates Software-Defined Networking

Microsoft, touting the software-defined networking (SDN) friendliness of its Windows Server 2016, this week provided new guidance and updated existing SDN resources for the enterprise datacenter OS.

The company launched a new TechNet site topic -- Introduction to Software Defined Networking in Windows Server 2016 -- that claims its SDN approach can help enterprises increase agility, enhance security and provide optimal efficiency.

"If you're new to SDN and interested in finding out how using this Windows Server 2016 Datacenter solution might help your business grow, take a look at the new topic," Microsoft said in a blog post this week.

For example, a Microsoft SDN Mechanics video demonstrates how enterprises can reportedly leverage the SDN capabilities baked into its server OS to:

  • Dynamically create, secure and connect networks to meet the evolving needs of enterprise apps.
  • Speed up the deployment of workloads.
  • Contain security vulnerabilities from spreading across networks.

The new topic is a continuance of the company's efforts to tout the modern networking technology in its enterprise offerings. For example, Microsoft last fall hopped on the SDN bandwagon by touting its capabilities on its main Software Defined Networking site, which was just updated last week.

That site, in addition to detailing SDN capabilities in Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition, also provides information on SDN capabilities in System Center 2016 and Microsoft Azure.

Windows Server 2016, however, is the point product for Microsoft's efforts in the new-age networking space, as it includes many SDN-related technologies such as:

  • 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.
  • Software load balancing (SLB).
  • Windows Server containers.

SDN "provides a method to centrally configure and manage physical and virtual network devices such as routers, switches, and gateways in your datacenter," Microsoft said. "Virtual network elements such as Hyper-V Virtual Switch, Hyper-V Network Virtualization, and RAS Gateway are designed to be integral elements of your SDN infrastructure.

"While you can still use your existing physical switches, routers, and other hardware devices, you can achieve deeper integration between the virtual network and the physical network if these devices are designed for compatibility with software defined networking."

And just two weeks ago, a TechNet blog post explained how to "Use Windows Server 2016 and Software-Defined Networking To Build a Better Network".

"When you use Windows Server 2016 and SDN, you gain access to a level of agility that allows you to extend the capabilities of your existing physical network," the post said. "The SDN sits on top of your physical network infrastructure and virtualizes the network and its services so that the management experiences are simpler and networks become application-specific.

"Apps can evolve as quickly, or become as complex, as developers want them to, because the SDN can isolate resources and eliminate shared dependencies. This connectivity flexibility doesn't skimp on security either. Beyond isolating networks from one another, and beyond what you can do with VLANs or vSwitches, you can use policy statements to control communication channels within a network using micro-segmentation practices."

Microsoft also provides free Windows Server 2016 virtual labs where developers and networking pros who sign up can explore the company's server OS in individual, sandboxed labs -- about six hours of total content -- including its "software-defined datacenter" capabilities.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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