Should cloud providers be concerned with IPv6 readiness?

IPv6 readiness is essential to the scalability of a cloud provider's infrastructure, explains cloud networking expert Ciprian Popoviciu.

Why should cloud providers be concerned with Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) readiness?

There are two main reasons cloud providers should care about IPv6 readiness:

  1. Predictably, IPv6 is becoming part of everyone's cloud strategy. Enterprises need to provide access to edge services (such as Web-based applications, virtual desktop infrastructure [VDI] and remote access for employees and partners) over IPv6 on a global footprint, particularly in regions where IPv4 address pools have been exhausted. Enterprises are already placing IPv6 requirements on cloud service providers and working to set up IPv6-based proofs of concept or test environments on cloud infrastructure.
  2. IPv6 is not just the way IP transport will operate going forward; it is also essential to the scalability of large cloud architectures. Among other things, the addressing resources of IPv6 simplify operations, and the intrinsic use of multicast fits well with some of the mechanisms used today to build virtual extensible local area networks (VXLANs). Several cloud providers are already using IPv6 in their networks, and, going forward, cloud innovation will happen in the context of IPv6.

The bottom line is that customer demand for IPv6 is increasing, but a cloud provider should not plan IPv6 readiness based just on this fact alone. It's equally important for providers to rethink their designs and operations in the context of IPv6.

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This was last published in August 2012

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