Opinion: Do we need to change the way we promote IPv6 in the cloud era?

By on 23 Jul 2020

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IPv6 cloud

We’ve witnessed this past decade how ‘the cloud’ has taken over on-premises infrastructures of many enterprise organizations of various sizes.

Organizations have either migrated their infrastructures/services/solutions/ applications completely or partially to the cloud or are seriously considering their options in this regard. This has included hosting application servers, delivering enterprise and global level services, deploying virtual network appliances, maintaining storage needs, providing identification and security solutions, extending data centres in the cloud, providing backup and high-availability features, benefitting from software-development platforms offered by cloud…the list goes on.

In my opinion, these cloud platforms have become a sort of ‘mini Internet’, which are getting populated with resources and services on regular basis.

As an enterprise organization, once you’ve migrated to the cloud, all that your employees need is a computer with an Internet connection to access organizational resources hosted by/deployed over the cloud. This can be accessed via the Internet or if you want to be extra secure (which I recommend) via a VPN connection, direct connection, or a dedicated broadband circuit provided by your ISP (MPLS connection).

Read: Common setups to secure your networks from home

Another option is to lease a private dedicated circuit (for example, a Layer 2 ethernet circuit) to directly connect your organization to the nearest cloud data centre. For example, Azure (Microsoft Cloud Platform) offers ExpressRoute, which is a private dedicated connection and it saves users from Internet-based threats as it is solely a private connection.

Diagram showing different ways organizations can connect securely to the cloud.
Figure 1 — There are multiple ways that an organization’s employees can connect to their cloud-based networks, some more secure and recommended than others.

What’s IPv6 got to do with it

Sooner or later organizations have to migrate to IPv6, if they haven’t done so already.

There are various reasons to support this statement; the most convincing is that IPv4 addresses are either exhausted in some regions or are going to be exhausted very soon. This has been a well-known fact, long before the cloud was even conceived, and yet I’ve noticed in cloud platforms an increased use of private IPv4 addresses for accessing resources when both organization infrastructure and their publicly acquired services (for example, storage) are hosted within the cloud.

Interestingly, this has also slowed down the exhaustion of IPv4 public addresses. (By the way, these cloud operators use Software Defined Networking in their data centres, so it’s pretty simple for them to play with resource configurations including assignments of IPv6/IPv4 addresses. It’s all a programming exercise now 😃.)

As such, I’m unsure as to whether enterprise organizations who have completely migrated or are planning to migrate their infrastructure/services/solutions/ applications need to push their ISPs to upgrade to IPv6 (single-stack or dual-stack) anymore? I mean, does it really matter to them when they can directly configure their resources with IPv6 or IPv4 addresses in their chosen cloud platforms?

Another interesting question will be how ISPs will justify investing in upgrading to IPv6 infrastructure when their enterprise customers don’t expect it anymore as they don’t maintain/manage on-premises infrastructures. Nor are they responsible for managing networking or routing matters by themselves.

Further, should Internet registries still target enterprise organizations (which are in process of migrating to the cloud) to upgrade to IPv6 infrastructure? Perhaps it comes down to ordinary Internet users only (cellular or otherwise) who can still push their service-providers for IPv6 migration.

These questions are not about challenging the significance of IPv6 over IPv4 and it will never be as it is obvious that IPv6 has to be adopted irrespective of cloud or traditional-networking eras. Rather, these questions are about shifting the approach used by Internet registries for promoting the use of IPv6. Of course, they won’t be involved as much as in the past in planning, deployment, operational and consulting aspects of IPv6, which have already been taken care of by cloud operators now.

Let me know your thoughts.

Azhar Khuwaja is a Telecom/IT Trainer with over 20 years of industry and training experience.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

One Comment

  1. Francisco de la Peña

    I feel IPv6 is not a cool name for promotion.

    What about “Internet 6.0”?

    Buzzwords matter. The Wi-Fi guys did it already. And invest on PR. A lot.


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