Software Defined Networking (SDN) Technologies in Windows Server 2016

If you work for a Cloud Service Provider or Enterprise, you might be interested in learning about all of the Software Defined Networking technologies that are available in Windows Server 2016, which was released in October, 2016 and is now available.

Following is a brief rundown of these technologies, as well as Windows Server 2016 Technical Library links to overview information for each technology.

Network Controller

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

Network Function Virtualization

Network functions that are being performed by hardware appliances (such as load balancers, firewalls, routers, switches, and so on) are increasingly being virtualized as virtual appliances.

Microsoft has virtualized networks, switches, gateways, NATs, load balancers, and firewalls, including the following:

  • RAS Gateway for SDN. RAS Gateway is a software-based, multitenant, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) capable router in Windows Server 2016 that is designed for Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and Enterprises that host multiple tenant virtual networks using Hyper-V Network Virtualization.
  • Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). When configured on a Windows Server 2016 Remote Access Service (RAS) Gateway, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) provides you with the ability to manage the routing of network traffic between your tenants' VM networks and their remote sites. BGP reduces the need for manual route configuration on routers because it is a dynamic routing protocol, and automatically learns routes between sites that are connected by using site-to-site VPN connections.
  • Software Load Balancing (SLB) for SDN. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and Enterprises that are deploying Software Defined Networking (SDN) in Windows Server 2016 can use Software Load Balancing (SLB) to evenly distribute tenant and tenant customer network traffic among virtual network resources. The Windows Server SLB enables multiple servers to host the same workload, providing high availability and scalability.
  • Datacenter Firewall.¬†¬†Datacenter Firewall is a new service included with Windows Server 2016. It is a network layer, 5-tuple (protocol, source and destination port numbers, source and destination IP addresses), stateful, multitenant firewall. When deployed and offered as a service by the service provider, tenant administrators can install and configure firewall policies to help protect their virtual networks from unwanted traffic originating from Internet and intranet networks.

Hyper-V Network Virtualization

Hyper-V Network Virtualization (HNV) enables virtualization and isolation of customer networks on top of a shared physical network infrastructure.

Internal DNS Service (iDNS) for SDN

Hosted virtual machines (VMs) and applications require DNS to communicate within their own networks and with external resources on the Internet. With iDNS, you can provide tenants with DNS name resolution services for their isolated, local name space and for Internet resources.

Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) and Switch Embedded Teaming (SET)

You can use a converged NIC to combine both RDMA and Ethernet traffic using a single network adapter. 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.

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, you can create SET teams that are restricted to the use of Server Message Block (SMB) and RDMA.

Windows Server Containers

Windows Server Containers are a lightweight operating system virtualization method used to separate applications or services from other services that are running on the same container host. To enable this, each container has its own view of the operating system, processes, file system, registry, and IP addresses. With Windows Server 2016, you can now connect Windows Server containers to virtual networks.


  • For news about Microsoft Windows Server and Windows Client Networking documentation, you can follow me on Twitter at @James_McIllece
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