Hyper-V users have asked for a number of new networking capabilities and we’ve heard them. In codename Windows Server 8 we are adding many new features to the Hyper-V virtual switch for virtual machine protection, traffic isolation, traffic prioritization, usage metering, and the troubleshooting. We are also introducing rich new management capabilities that support both WMI and PowerShell. It’s an exciting set of functionality! But we didn’t stop there.

Many customers have asked us for the ability to more deeply integrate Hyper-V networking into their existing network infrastructure, their existing monitoring and security tools, or with other types of specialized functionality. We know that we have an exciting virtual switch in Hyper-V, but there are still opportunities for partners to bring additional capabilities to Hyper-V networking.

In Windows Server 8 we are opening up the virtual switch to allow plug-ins (we call “extensions”) so that partners can add functionality to the switch, transforming the virtual switch into the Hyper-V Extensible Switch.

There are several reasons why IT professionals should be excited by the functionality for the Hyper-V Extensible Switch. First, extensions only deliver the functionality you want in the switch. You do not need to replace the entire switch just to add a single capability.

Second, the framework makes extensions into first class citizens of the system, with support for the same customer scenarios as the switch itself. That means capabilities like Live Migration work on extensions automatically. Switch extensions can be managed through Hyper-V Manager and by WMI or PowerShell.

Third, you can expect to see a rich ecosystem of new extensions allowing you to customize Hyper-V networking for your environment. Developers code extensions using existing, public API so there isn’t a new programming model to learn. Extensions are coded using WFP or NDIS, just like other networking filters and drivers, a model most developers are already familiar with. They can use existing tools and know-how to quickly build extensions.

Fourth, extensions are reliable because they run within a framework and are backed with Windows 8 Certification tools to test and certify them. The result is fewer bugs and higher satisfaction.

Fifth, we’ve extended Unified Tracing through the switch to make it easier for you to diagnose issues, which will lower your support costs.

We unveiled the Hyper-V Extensible Switch at the //BUILD/ conference, along with an ecosystem of partners showing live demonstrations of early versions of their products. The session of live demonstrations can be viewed on our web site at http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/BUILD/BUILD2011/SAC-559T

Briefly, the extensions showcased were the following:

These partners showed six great demonstrations of the flexibility and openness of the Hyper-V Extensible Switch. We are excited by each of these partnerships, as they are helping us validate the Windows Server 8 platform. They also suggest the broad range of customer value that can be delivered through an extensible networking platform in Hyper-V.

I encourage you to check out the Windows Server 8 Hyper-V Extensible Switch.

Mike Neil

General Manager, Windows Server engineering