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A software-defined data center consists of a series of virtualized layers to supply services to an organization. Microsoft upped the ante in its latest Windows Server release to make its SDDC vision more real for the enterprise.
At a minimum, an SDDC environment demands a hypervisor to virtualize compute resources, software-defined storage and software-defined networking (SDN) resources, all overseen by management software.
The latest Microsoft SDDC iteration arrives with Windows Server 2019, utilizing Hyper-V as the hypervisor, Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) for the storage component and SDN. Windows Admin Center provides the management interface. The Microsoft SDDC runs atop a foundation of Windows Server Software-Defined validated hardware.
A sampling of new and expanded virtualization features
Windows Server supplies the virtualization layers and a wide range of capabilities required to pool resources and remove the manual effort that was once required to configure and manage the assortment of data center hardware.
Windows Server 2019 builds on previous server OS versions to provide the enhanced functionality necessary to deliver a range of services for the enterprise. Enhancements to S2D expand storage pools up to 4 petabytes and 64 TB per volume. Microsoft said some systems can save up to 80% on storage space by using data deduplication on a Resilient File System disk. Clustering enhancements improve workload resiliency, and kernel soft reboot restarts validated hardware faster.
Networking improvements include virtual network peering for high-speed traffic between virtual networks; storage and workload traffic can now flow on the same network interface card team. Low Extra Delay Background Transport technology smooths out network congestion for reduced latency. The SDN enhancements give administrators more flexibility with centralized management for both physical and virtual network devices.
One tool to control the virtualization framework
Microsoft touts Windows Admin Center as the primary tool to manage and monitor hyper-converged infrastructure environments in Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019.
Windows Admin Center gathers a number of tools in a single interface to offer a unified management platform for all compute, storage, and SDN resources and instances running on later Windows Server systems. In addition to its streamlined approach, Microsoft tailored Windows Admin Center to simplify the provisioning of virtualized resources to remove administrative roadblocks to an SDDC deployment and its consequent management. Windows Admin Center can also tap into PowerShell functionality for its automation capabilities to lift some management tasks from the IT staff.
Due to the integral nature of Windows Admin Center, particularly with Windows Server 2019, administrators will find it difficult to perform some SDDC tasks with other tools. Windows Admin Center combines the management capabilities of several traditional tools, including Microsoft Management Console, Server Manager, PowerShell console, Hyper-V VM and vSwitch management, task scheduling and Windows Update.