Software Defined Networking Comes to Windows Server 2019

We’ve talked before on the blog about the software-defined data center (SDDC) and the critical role of software-defined networking (SDN), which has been gaining market momentum lately. An explosion in network traffic, driven by factors ranging from streaming video to IoT, has helped pique interest in the cost-saving potential of SDN and the increasing array of products making it viable today.

Windows Server 2019 takes note of SDN and incorporates a number of new features to facilitate implementation. Virtual-network peering will make diverse networks appear as a single network. This will happen in a seamless manner that accounts for multi-cloud environments, where target devices frequently and dynamically change addresses.

Additionally, virtual-network traffic will be automatically encrypted between machines. This is a clear security upgrade, and the automation will relieve some burdens on network administrators. Another security feature getting attention is the improved firewall auditing. When turned on, this feature will log all communications between SDN connections and help improve performance monitoring and enhance breach detection.

A key development goal for Microsoft was end-to-end SDN management within the Windows Admin Center. A monitoring extension will allow for realtime network oversight of controllers, software load balancers, virtual gateways, hosts, and public and private IP pools. WAC takes into account hyperconvergence as well, so all SDN resources can be managed through a single application.

The introduction of an SDN Express wizard is intended to make SDN deployment foolproof, while allowing customization. However, a look at Microsoft’s “Plan a Software Defined Network Infrastructure” document still has some commentators shuddering at the complexity.

Other features, ones Network World found worth highlighting, include IPv6 support within SDN, which will incorporate the ability to enable, configure, track, and manage IPv6 addresses. There are also IPv6 load balancing, gateways, and firewall rules. SDN performance improvements are intended to increase CPU utilization and facilitate scaling.

As one of the major areas of change in Windows Server 2019, SDN functionality needs to be road-tested before we’ll really know whether implementing SDN is now as easy as Microsoft claims. No matter what the final assessment may be, such an SDN feature-packed release should make things better for network administrators and that alone will be a welcome change.