Architecture of Hyper-V Virtual Switch

Hyper-V Virtual Switch (referred also as VMSWITCH) is the foundational component of network device virtualization in Hyper-V. It powers some of the largest data centers in the world, including Windows Azure. In this post, I would talk about its high level architecture.

Standards Compliant Virtual Switch

As I mentioned in my previous post, the main goal in building VMSWITCH was to build a standards compliant, high performance virtual switch. There are many ways to interpret standards compliant because there are many standards. So to be specific, our goal was to build packet forwarding based on 802.1q and mimic physical network semantics (such as link up/down) as much as possible. This was to make sure that whatever works in a physical network, works in the virtual environment as well. We defined three main objects in VMSWITCH, vSwitch, vPort and NIC. A vSwitch is an instance of a virtual switch that provides packet forwarding and various other features provided by a switch such as QoS, ACL etc. A vPort is analogous to a physical switch port and has configuration associated with it for various features. And finally, a NIC objects, that acts as the endpoint connecting to a vPort. This is similar to the physical network, where a host has a physical NIC that connects to a physical port on a physical switch. (more…)

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Hyper-V Inception

Back in 2003, I joined the team that was venturing into the world of server virtualization, and little did I know that it would take me on journey, that remains as exciting today as it was back then. This was the time, when leaders in our team were contemplating building a brand new hypervisor based virtualization solution. Who knew, back then, that one day it would become the defining feature of our server and cloud solutions. I remember, new to the team, wondering what role I would play in this product, which sounded like rocket science at that time. There were intense architectural meetings, long discussions on finding a code name for the project and both excitement and nervousness to see what I would get to do. Eventually Viridian was born and I, along with one of my colleague Jeffrey, was given the charter to build network device virtualization for Viridian. (more…)

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