Despite any initial hype and buzzword overexposure, there can be little question at this point that cloud computing is steadily revolutionizing how IT builds and delivers services. According to recent statistics, more than 60% of businesses are using cloud IT solutions in some form. Both cost-savings and business agility are reflected in the statistic that more than 80% of organizations that adopted cloud solutions saw a decrease in IT cost along with an improvement in IT services. Spending on cloud computing is predicted to exceed $180 billion USD in 2015.
No doubt you’ve heard of some of the challenges of cloud computing adoption at this point as well: shadow IT, cloud data security breaches, solution immaturity and orchestration nightmares from some cloud providers.
In spite of these difficulties, the above statistics, it’s a pretty safe wager that cloud computing is here to stay.
So where does IPv6 fit in?
First, we can briefly discuss what IPv6 brings to clouds, whether public, private, or hybrid. At a bare minimum, the following:
· Virtually unlimited addressing
· Autoaddressing via SLAAC/DHCPv6
· Possible improvements in L2 to L3 mapping (ND vs. ARP)
The secondary benefit of these components include:
· Virtually unlimited scale
· Elimination of workaround NATs/VRFs/overlays
· Streamlining of address management
These benefits suggest reductions in OPEX that may allow cloud providers to realize additional cost savings and more rapid evolution and enhancement of service offerings. Over time, IPv6 will become a critical component in facilitating the rapid horizontal scaling of public cloud services, leading to eventual legacy protocol status for IPv4 and higher OPEX costs for providers and higher prices for legacy protocol consumers.
Meanwhile, organizations that are focused on IPv6 adoption are recognizing additional themes that will likely impact their subsequent requirements and consumption of cloud services:
· Large cloud providers are running into scaling constraints imposed by IPv4
· They also have customers demanding IPv6-enabled Virtual Private Cloud
· Many organizations are aligning their cloud and IPv6 initiatives
· New cloud providers are more likely to see IPv6 as a differentiator in the marketplace
· New cloud providers are more willing to architect using IPv6
· New private/hybrid cloud deployments can have IPv6 compliance requirements
· More than 50% of mobile traffic is over IPv6 and the most of the apps are SaaS-based
· IoT requires IPv6 and will rely on many IPv6 operational practices evolving for cloud
What about current support for IPv6 among well-known public cloud providers as well as vendors of cloud technology?
Public cloud support, like so much else in the realm of IPv6, is a mixed bag. Figure 1 shows a recent survey of familiar public cloud providers and their stated support for IPv6. Note that this is a survey of IPv6 support the provider claims it offers. How that translates into actual service delivery or performance is not something I have the data to discuss so caveat emptor.
Figure 1: Public cloud platforms, IPv6 support
Among the 9 most popular (arguably) public cloud providers, one-third of them claim support for IPv6. Of the services that don’t support IPv6, AWS and Azure are likely facing the most scrutiny for lack of IPv6 support, given the high profile of the companies providing them (Amazon and Microsoft, respectively).
In an informal survey of private cloud platforms, 3 of the 4 listed claim IPv6 support (Figure 2). OpenStack currently enjoys the highest profile among these and support for critical IPv6 features appears to improve with each release.
Figure 2: Private cloud platforms, IPv6 support (*full support of IPv6 claimed but serious deployment issues reported; **core support; some features unsupported; limited deployment base)
This document details support for IPv6 in Kilo, the most recent OpenStack release — though, as it points out, some potential IPv6 solutions remain out-of-scope for now:
· Single stack IPv6 tenant networking
· OpenStack control communication between servers and services over an IPv6 network.
· Connection to the OpenStack APIs via an IPv6 transport network
· IPv6 multicast
· IPv6 support in conjunction with any out of tree routers, switches, services or agents whether in physical or virtual form factors
Limited support for IPv6 in private cloud components as well as missing support for well-established public cloud platforms indicate that IPv6 in the cloud is clearly a work in progress. But hopefully, this article has outlined for you some of the critical reasons why enterprises are developing their IPv6 initiatives in parallel with their cloud initiatives (and are seeing the two as inextricably linked to the evolution of IT services).
Are you deploying IPv6 and/or cloud services? Please leave a comment and let us know what challenges you’re facing.