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What new capabilities do IPv6 features offer providers when building out cloud infrastructure that they don't have now with IPv4?
Service providers should start by understanding that the promise of the cloud will not materialize without IPv6. It really is that simple. IPv4 might offer enough resources for proof-of-concept projects, but headaches will result from the complexities generated by the growth of existing cloud infrastructures. Service providers need IPv6 to build effective large-scale cloud environments, deliver services to the increasing number of devices and to accommodate increasingly varied enterprise customers. IPv6 is the inflection point that enables not only cloud adoption, but the other major IT inflection points like SDN and NFV.
IPv6 benefits cloud infrastructures from scale to functionality. Some of these benefits are obvious; others are yet to be demonstrated. Nevertheless, significant innovation will take place where scale and functionality intersect.
The first set of IPv6 benefits are very clear -- it's all about scalability. The immense address space provided by the new protocol enables service providers to develop addressing plans that simplify operations, as Facebook demonstrated with its large data center infrastructure. The larger IPv6 address provides enough bits to embed service and policy information to simplify policy management, as proven by innovative large service providers. The IPv6 address space also makes it easier to manage elastic resources for hosted, multi-tenant environments with the help of persistent allocations.
The second set of IPv6 benefits are delivered by other protocol architectures. They are slowly emerging as service providers take an IPv6 centric view of their next-generation infrastructure. Proposed protocols like VXLAN can be more easily implemented in an IPv6-based OpenStack infrastructure. This is where service providers that start addressing the cloud and IPv6 inflection points early on will differentiate themselves significantly from their competition.
The biggest cost service providers actually face is to not actually build a true next-generation infrastructure based on IPv6. In fact, cloud infrastructures must be built based on IPv6, not just be IPv6 ready.
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