Managing networks in Windows Server vNext

Virtually Switched

Actively Managing Network Traffic

Network Controller lets you view, manage, and redirect network traffic. If certain VM appliances are used on the network for security purposes (e.g., as antivirus, firewall, intrusion, or detection VMs), you can create rules in Network Controller that automatically redirect network traffic to the appropriate appliances.

This capability is important both in terms of security and for interaction with load balancers. Network Controller detects servers with identical workloads and their load balancers. The server role can actively intervene and direct network traffic to the right places. This translates to benefits for high availability and scalability in the enterprise. (See also the "Virtualizing Network Controller" box.)

Virtualizing Network Controller

You can easily virtualize servers acting as Network Controllers. Microsoft recommends making the role highly available in production environments. The best way to do this is to create a cluster or a highly available Hyper-V environment. Right now, it is hard to tell what high availability will look like for Network Controller.

Network Controller and PowerShell 5.0

Together with Network Controller, the new PowerShell 5.0 is finding its way into Windows Server vNext and Windows 10, providing options that interact with Network Controller for managing the network, as well as for independent use. The Data Center Abstraction Layer (DAL) is the interface in PowerShell. DAL allows data centers and compatible network components to be managed remotely through PowerShell and with compatible tools that provide a graphical interface for scripts. Microsoft maintains a list of certified compatible network components. Certified manufacturers include Cisco and Huawei. Other manufacturers are expected to appear after the release of Windows Server vNext. Network Controller on Windows Server vNext will also be accessible through PowerShell, in parallel with the cmdlets that are already available for the service.

If you use compatible devices, they can be managed through PowerShell, either with or without Network Controller. Microsoft goes into more detail about the functions and options of compatible devices [4] and provides examples of script management for compatible devices [5].

Network Administration with SCVMM

Network Controller collaborates particularly closely with Hyper-V hosts and VMs that are managed with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) vNext. Anyone with access to a Microsoft Developer Network subscription can download the technical preview for System Center vNext [6]. Microsoft also provides virtual disks with SCVMM vNext [7]. Keep in mind that you can only install the new SCVMM version on servers with Windows 10 Server; you will need SQL Server 2014 as a database server. SCVMM vNext can centrally manage the updates for all connected Hyper-V hosts. You will need to provide Windows Server Update Services on the network.

You can create logical switches in SCVMM vNext and assign these switches to servers with Windows Server vNext. You can also use profiles and classifications. However, only the bandwidth settings play a role in the pre-release version. As soon as more test versions are available, it should be possible to manage and monitor them using, Network Controller.

Virtual network adapter configuration is now improved in SCVMM vNext. Later, this should also work with the Network Controller service. You can now, for example, make multiple virtual network adapters available when deploying virtual servers. Network adapters can also be renamed in the templates for virtual servers. This works in a similar way to Consistent Device Naming (CDN) for physical network adapters. To do this, you need to have created the virtual server as a generation 2 VM and have installed it with Windows Server vNext.

To create network configurations for VMs and manage them centrally, you can use logical networks, MAC address pools, VM networks, and IP address pools in SCVMM vNext. Network Controller also plays an important role, because it can take over the management and monitoring (Figure 3).

Figure 3: SCVMM vNext and Network Controller collaborate closely with the new network settings for VMs.

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