Container Networking Overview

Applies To: Windows Server (Semi-Annual Channel), Windows Server 2016

This topic is an overview of the networking stack for Windows Containers and includes links to additional guidance about creating, configuring, and managing container networks.

Windows Server Containers are a lightweight operating system virtualization method used to separate applications or services from other services that are running on the same container host. To enable this, each container has its own view of the operating system, processes, file system, registry, and IP addresses.

Windows containers function similarly to virtual machines in regards to networking. Each container has a virtual network adapter which is connected to a virtual switch, over which inbound and outbound traffic is forwarded. To enforce isolation between containers on the same host, a network compartment is created for each Windows Server and Hyper-V Container into which the network adapter for the container is installed. Windows Server containers use a Host vNIC to attach to the virtual switch. Hyper-V Containers use a Synthetic VM NIC (not exposed to the Utility VM) to attach to the virtual switch.

Container endpoints can be attached to a local host network (e.g. NAT), the physical network, or an overlay virtual network created through the Microsoft Software Defined Networking (SDN) stack.

For more information about creating and managing container networks for non-overlay/SDN deployments, refer to the Windows Container Networking guide on MSDN.

For more information about creating and managing container networks for overlay virtual networks with SDN, refer to Connect container endpoints to a tenant virtual network.