How does an IPv6 network affect NFV?

Many cloud providers are interested in adopting network functions virtualization (NFV). How could a cloud provider's IPv6 network influence its NFV strategy?

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Considered a complement to software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization is a means of consolidating traditional network hardware appliances into software-based, or virtualized, versions of them to be run on commodity servers.

Conceptually, NFV will work the same regardless of which version of the IP protocol you use. The virtualized functionality and resources in NFV are set up in the same manner and operate the same way in both IPv4 and IPv6 networks.

On the other hand, the ability to have all devices and destinations identified with globally unique addresses provides a more flexible and manageable context for the deployment of services and, consequently, of NFV. Many in the industry often trivialize the value of having a larger IP address space, but as more environments will be enabled for IPv6, the manageability benefits will become evident.

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More resources on NFV and SDN for service providers:

  • Learn the basics of SDN architectures, SDN applications and NFV use cases in service provider networks in this Essential Guide from SearchSDN.
  • Cloud providers and telcos can benefit from SDN and NFV-driven service chaining to make provisioning specific applications or services more granular.
  • Not every cloud provider is ready to re-architect its network to support SDN, which has made network virtualization and NFV more appealing options for those providers still looking to evolve their networks without SDN.


This was first published in January 2014

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