Earlier this week, we talked about how software-defined networking (SDN) gives IT increased agility. Today, we wanted to talk more about how that works and how customers are benefitting today.

Windows Server 2012 R2 offers multiple new or enhanced networking capabilities make private and hybrid cloud computing easier. The SDN capabilities of Windows Server 2012 specifically include the ability to abstract network packet-movement decisions from the underlying network hardware. Hyper-V Network Virtualization and the Hyper-V Extensible Switch are the foundations of SDN in Windows Server 2012 R2; they let administrators isolate network traffic from different business units or customers on a shared infrastructure without the use of virtual local area networks.

To give you some additional context on how all this works, we asked Microsoft Principal Group Program Manager Rajeev Nagar to talk in more detail about Microsoft’s approach to SDN

So what are the key scenarios for software-defined networking?  As you heard from Rajeev, Hyper-V Network Virtualization enables administrators to run multiple virtual networks with overlapping IP addresses and to manage virtual networks by using Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.

We also asked Rand Morimoto, President of Convergent Computing, how his customers are using SDN. “By using Hyper-V Network Virtualization, our customers can easily stretch workloads into Microsoft Azure, into a hosted provider facility, or from one of their own data centers to another,” Morimoto says. For example, a company might want to keep its Active Directory Domain Services infrastructure on-premises but move its Internet, intranet, and some line-of-business applications to a more cost-effective and scalable cloud infrastructure. Using System Center 2012 R2, Convergent can simply click and move workloads between public and private cloud environments to meet a customer’s needs.

Another key scenario is enabling secure multi-tenancy in a shared infrastructure.  King County is a great example of how important secure multi-tenancy can be.

King County is located in the state of Washington and includes the city of Seattle. The county faced a challenge common to organizations today: how to consolidate operations to bring down costs.  The county’s many services depend on more than 1,600 unique IT solutions and applications that until recently were housed on aging mainframes and servers running disparate operating systems and spread among 28 datacenters across the county.  The IT department wanted to consolidate all of these smaller datacenters into one central datacenter to increase efficiency.

“Much like our counterparts in the private sector, we want to provide modernized technology platforms for alternative service delivery, such as increased use of services over the Internet and in the cloud,” says Bill Kehoe Chief Information Officer for King County. “But first, we had to consolidate our infrastructure. Then, we had to choose the right virtualization technology to build a private cloud and begin our journey toward delivering county services to residents with greater speed and efficiency.”

Although the private cloud model offered King County increased efficiency and better utilization of resources, security remained a concern.  The IT department was able to address this concern with the multi-tenancy capabilities built in to Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.  By taking a software-defined networking approach, King County could ensure that they kept data secure and individual departments isolated within the infrastructure.

As a county government, King County must comply with the strict tenants of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Criminal Justice Information System. “We can assure our health and criminal justice departments that our multitenant environment is secure and that patient information and police records would not be accessible by any other departments,” says Bob Micelli, Manager of Enterprise Services at King County.

Read the complete King County case study “County Government saves $700,000 annually, achieves lean IT with Private Cloud.”

Learn more about Microsoft Gold certified partner Convergent Computing and how they are delivering private and hybrid cloud solutions to their customers.