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The functionality of Hyper-V virtual switches in Windows Server 2016

There are three types of Hyper-V virtual switches in Windows Server 2016. The key to using them effectively in a production environment is to understand what sets them apart.

Microsoft Hyper-V supports three types of virtual switches: external, internal and private. Hyper-V virtual switches support all basic network functions, such as assigning VLAN IDs, configuring VLAN trunking and support for industry standard protocols.

The primary purpose of a virtual switch is to allow communication between VMs and/or physical servers/clients running on external networks. However, each of the three switch types function differently; that's where this tip comes in handy. It's imperative to understand the differences between virtual switch types before creating Hyper-V virtual switches in a production environment.

  • External virtual switch: As its name suggests, you can create an external virtual switch if any of your VMs need to communicate with the physical server or client machines on external networks. An external virtual switch requires a physical network interface card (NIC) on Hyper-V Host and the physical NIC must not be mapped to any other external virtual switch.
  • Internal virtual switch: If you want your VMs to communicate with each other and with the Hyper-V host, sometimes known as the management host, create an internal virtual switch. For example, you can enable a group of sales VMs to communicate with each other by attaching them to the same internal virtual switch.
  • Private virtual switch: If you need to allow a group of VMs to communicate solely with each other, create a private virtual switch. As its name implies, the private virtual switch was developed specifically for VMs that require a high level of privacy, such as finance VMs.

Although Windows Server 2016 doesn't feature any new Hyper-V virtual switches, it does offer improvements to existing virtual networking features, including RDMA and switch-embedded teaming, great Virtual Machine Queue throughput and quality of service bandwidth management for software-defined networks.

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