On October 31, 2013, I had the opportunity to speak with Brad Anderson, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Cloud and Enterprise Division. Our topic of discussion: the Software Defined Networking (SDN) capabilities that Microsoft is delivering with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.
Anderson explained that the cloud is all about how an organization can pool its compute, storage, and networking resources to provide a more flexible infrastructure that enables it to react more quickly and to reduce the time needed to deliver applications to business. He went on to point out that today, businesses have a pretty good grasp of virtualizing compute resources with virtual machines (VMs). However, the network continues to be a shackle to agility. When an organization deploys an application, it typically must set up a VLAN. That VLAN usually requires manual network configuration. Later attempts to move the application also often require manual network reconfiguration.
SDN solves this problem. Anderson told me that Microsoft has invested over 15 billion dollars in cloud infrastructure and makes tens of thousands of changes every day. This kind of massive global reconfiguration is possible only by using virtualization and SDN. Without these, Anderson said, it would take Microsoft an army of administrators to attempt to keep up with the required changes.
Microsoft leveraged this networking expertise to build SDN right into Window Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Anderson pointed out that these two releases are built on four key pillars:
- Deliver an in-box SDN solution—SDN capabilities are built right into Windows Server 2012 R2. Today, Windows Server runs three out of every four workloads worldwide. Including SDN with Windows Server makes it a core IT capability that customers can take advantage of without needing to buy anything extra.
- Provide deep physical and virtual integration between solutions—Windows Server 2012 R2 can define network policies that span physical and virtual servers, providing real-time control and visibility into the health of the physical network fabric.
- Deliver optimized performance for Microsoft workloads—Microsoft’s goal with SDN is to optimize the performance and diagnostics of top-tier workloads such as SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange, and Lync. SDN makes it possible for the network to adapt to the application by automatically configuring network security, load balancing, service quality guarantees, and adaptive traffic flow.
- Enable standards-based interoperability—Microsoft has adopted an extensible standards-driven approach to implementing SDN. The company participates in the Open Networking Forum to work on standardized northbound APIs for third-party controller integration. Microsoft also participates in the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) to develop standardized southbound APIs to interface with physical infrastructure. And the company works with the OpenDaylight organization to build open implementations of these standards
Anderson stated that Windows Server 2012 R2 SDN is designed to provide organizations with friction-free movement of their apps across data centers as well as private and public clouds. SDN isn’t just some future technology. SDN is available right now in Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. For more information about Windows Server 2012 R2 and SDN, check out Anderson’s SDN blog.