This post will describe the networking features that are changed or new to Windows Server 2016 (WS2016), as featured in Technical Preview 5 (TP5).
Windows Server 2016 has a very definite theme: running you own implementation of Azure that’s managed using the Microsoft Azure stack. Many of the new and improved features of WS2016 are intended to enable Azure to run in your data center. Nowhere can you see this more than in the networking features of the newest version of Microsoft’s server operating system.
A fabric in a cloud, such as networking, requires management. Microsoft has ported the network fabric controller of Azure to Windows Server and called it the Network Controller. Microsoft describes the Network Controller as a “centralized, programmable point of automation.” This means that there’s one point of central control of the network fabric across your entire Hyper-V cloud, and you can also interact with the Network Controller using PowerShell.
However, the envisioned mechanism of manual control will be Azure Stack, which will allow you to deploy your software-defined networks.
There are a few improvements to note:
Converged NIC. You can converge networks in a host to as few as a single NIC and still have support for RDMA. In other words, RDMA can be enabled in a management OS virtual NIC, meaning that all SMB Direct enhanced roles (storage, Live Migration, Storage Replica, and more) can use the same physical NICs as virtual machines, and you can reduce your total CAPEX and OPEX spending on NICs and switch ports.
Packet Direct. Pretty soon, you’re going to see affordable 100 Gbps switches hitting the market. Packet Direct will improve throughput and reduce latency for networks up to this speed.
Switch Embedded Teaming (SET). Hyper-V hosts will no longer need a Hyper-V switch and a NIC team; the NIC team can be embedded into the virtual switch, effectively treating the physical NICs (up to 8) as uplinks of the virtual switch.
As with Azure, you will have the ability to deploy network functions (gateways, load balancers, and firewalls) as virtual appliances or you can deploy these network functions within the network fabric provided by WS2016:
Larger organizations will be interested in some of the advance and standardized approaches to management, that further the alignment with Azure:
Microsoft be the farm on NVGRE when they added SDN to Windows Server 2012. There were a few issues, where everyone else went with VxLAN, and Microsoft decided to use System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) as their point of SDN management and updates, which turned out to be a mistake. The new Microsoft is all about fitting in and acting on feedback, and this is why WS2016 will:
There are a few non-cloud updates too!
The DNS server has been updated as follows:
IP Address Management has some feature improvements as well: