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How can an IPv6 implementation improve our cloud services?

How can an IPv6 implementation improve our cloud services?

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There are several ways IPv6 is already known to help scale and improve the operation of cloud infrastructures today, and many more use cases are likely to emerge as the architects and engineers at various cloud providers start to understand the capabilities of IPv6 and find ways to capitalize on them.

For starters, the large address space for IPv6 means that the focus of address assignments can be entire broadcast domains – and not just individual hosts. Cloud providers don't have to worry about managing the host addresses within an IPv6 network, which ultimately simplifies address assignments and network operations. An IPv6 implementation enables cloud providers to easily start providing persistent address allocations to enterprise customers, which will facilitate cloud portability.

The large IPv6 address space also provides unique, globally routable multicast addresses for each /64 unicast network address, making virtual machine-to-Virtual Extensible LAN mapping easier with the help of multicast. When compared to IPv4, IPv6's mechanisms for mapping Layer 3 to Layer 2 addresses provide better ways to manage Address Resolution Protocol storms in large broadcast domains. The IPv6 control plane is multicast-based and represents a natural fit to the multicast-based mechanisms used by cloud providers and orchestration platforms in managing flat, Layer 3 domains.

Finally, the structure and flexibility of the IPv6 packet-header architecture provides scalable options for building scalable Layer 3 domains that span multiple points of delivery and data centers.

These are just a few ways in which an IPv6 implementation can help cloud providers fulfill the promise of the cloud while simplifying its operational requirements.

This was first published in August 2012

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