Network capabilities with Windows Server 2016

Now with the release of Windows Server 2016, to many have been caught up with the support for Docker, Nano server and storage spaces direct. To many are missing out on what is the big investment that Microsoft is doing in WS2016, namely the networking stack!

Which is also going to be a big part of when Microsoft also releases Azure Stack, since most of the Azure functionality in regards to networking is being ported to Windows Server 2016.

So what is actually new ? So far all we have are the TP3 bits. So this is what is included. Now most of these features are only available from PowerShell and are part of the Network Controller stack.

  • 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.

  • Converged Network Interface Card (NIC). The converged NIC allows you to use a single network adapter for management, Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA)-enabled storage, and tenant traffic. This reduces the capital expenditures that are associated with each server in your datacenter, because you need fewer network adapters to manage different types of traffic per server.

  • Packet Direct. Packet Direct provides a high network traffic throughput and low-latency packet processing infrastructure.

  • Switch Embedded Teaming (SET). SET is a NIC Teaming solution that is integrated in the Hyper-V Virtual Switch. SET allows the teaming of up to eight physical NICS into a single SET team, which improves availability and provides failover. In Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview, you can create SET teams that are restricted to the use of Server Message Block (SMB) and RDMA.

  • Network monitoring. With network monitoring, network devices that you specify can be discovered, and you can monitor device health and status.

  • Network Controller. Network Controller provides a scalable, centralized, programmable point of automation to manage, configure, monitor, and troubleshoot virtual and physical network infrastructure in your datacenter. For more information, see Network Controller.

  • Flexible encapsulation technologies. These technologies operate at the data plane, and support both Virtual Extensible LAN (VxLAN) and Network Virtualization Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE). For more information, see GRE Tunneling in Windows Server Technical Preview.

  • Hyper-V Virtual Switch. The Hyper-V Virtual Switch runs on Hyper-V hosts, and allows you to create distributed switching and routing, and a policy enforcement layer that is aligned and compatible with Microsoft Azure.
    Think that this will allow us to create L2 connections directly with vNetworks in Azure.

  • Standardized Protocols. Network Controller uses Representational State Transfer (REST) on its northbound interface with JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) payloads. The Network Controller southbound interface uses Open vSwitch Database Management Protocol (OVSDB).

Also with the current investment into OMI stack and with the support for PowerShell DSC we can easily extended the support to the physical network as well. Also that since the network controller uses JSON to do management we can see that we are going to be able to use Resource Manager capabilities that are used in Azure as well when Azure Stack becomes available.

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