Advanced networking finally comes to Windows virtualization with Hyper-V 3.0

Cisco to make previously VMware-only Nexus 1000V virtual switch available to Microsoft Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V

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One of the key features coming to Windows Server is native NIC teaming. This feature has been a part of VMware ESX for some time; however prior to Windows Server 8, you could only get NIC teaming for Windows with specialized NICs and third-party software from Broadcom and Intel. This was a great disadvantage and a lot of people complained about it. Now the operating system will do the job, increasing stability and security while reducing support complexity, as the new NIC teaming will also work across heterogeneous vendor NICs.

But perhaps most importantly, Microsoft has updated the virtual switch that is built into the Hyper-V hypervisor and made it extensible. Microsoft is providing an API that will allow the switch to support third-party extensions for inspecting, filtering, modifying, sampling, and inserting packets, with management of the extensions integrated into Hyper-V. The company will also be implementing a Hyper-V virtual switch logo program to help ensure and maintain the high quality of these virtual switch extensions.

As VMware has already found out, an extensible virtual switch will open the door for more third-party virtual switches. Companies like HP and Juniper may bite at the chance to participate; but just as they have already done with VMware, Cisco seems ready to partner with Microsoft in this regard. The company has already stated it will be adding support for Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V 3.0 via the company's Nexus 1000V virtual switch. Until now, this support has been exclusive to VMware's hypervisor technology.

In a public solution overview on the company's website, Cisco acknowledged its intended support for Microsoft:

For enterprise and service provider customers who want to extend Cisco networking experience to their Microsoft Windows Server 8 Hyper-V deployments, Cisco offers a full portfolio of virtual networking technologies through the Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switches and Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) Virtual Machine Fabric Extender (VM-FEX).

The Cisco Nexus 1000V Series is a distributed virtual switching platform that provides advanced networking features, integrated virtual services, and a consistent operational model across physical and virtual environments. Customers can rely on the robust Cisco NX-OS Software command-line interface (CLI) and feature set and Cisco's innovative network services architecture for their virtual environments.

Cisco UCS VM-FEX simplifies virtual machine networking by collapsing virtual and physical networking into a single easy-to-manage infrastructure while using Hyper-VSingle-Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) technology to provide near-bare-metal I/O performance to the virtual machines.

Much like the unknown timeframe of Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V 3.0, the timing for delivery of the Cisco Nexus 1000V and Cisco UCS VM-FEX is still to be determined. But seriously, doesn't this announcement alone really shake things up?

This article, "Advanced networking finally comes to Windows virtualization with Hyper-V 3.0," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in virtualization at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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