Brocade Stands Between IPv4 Diehards, IPv6 Purists


Brocade, citing the major impact the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 will have on service providers' ability to offer cloud-based services, this week introduced solutions for helping manage the transition.

Finding better ways to improve application delivery is crucial to service providers who are dealing with multiple, simultaneous changes in their business, said Keith Stewart, director of product management at Brocade.

"Data centers are migrating to the cloud and to Web 2.0 even as the Internet goes through a massive transformation to IPv6," Stewart said.

The migration from IPv4 to IPv6 is becoming a major issue for data center and cloud operations.

Internet addresses have been formatted according to the Internet Protocol Version Four (IPv4) since that standard was adopted in 1981. However, because IPv4 provides for 32-bit addresses, the maximum number of devices that can be addressed is just under 4.3 billion, a number that is at the point of being exhausted thanks to the explosion in Internet-connected devices.

IPv6, on the other hand, uses addresses based on 128-bit addresses, providing more potential addresses for Internet-connected devices that could conceivably be used, according to the Web site ipv6vsipv4.com.

Devices for delivering applications will have to take into account the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 because of the proliferation of new clients and devices that was unforeseen when the Internet was first architected, Stewart said.

"The scale of these new device types is simply overwhelming the scale of IPv4," he said.

Stewart said that customers are caught between what he termed "IPv4 diehards" and "IPv6 purists."

IPv4 diehards are people who are living in the past who say there are millions of IPv4 addresses that can be used, and that technologies such as Network Address Translation (NAT) have the ability to make IPv4 last forever, Stewart said.

IPv6 purists, on the other hand, want an immediate transition to the new protocol since the world is essentially out of IPv4 addresses, all new devices will be using IPv6 addresses within 18 months, and transitioning is "simply the right thing to do," he said.

Brocade, with some new product launches, is taking a more pragmatic view, Stewart said.

The company believes that, while the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses is real, businesses still have time to plan their transition to IPv6.

Brocade further believes that a two-protocol world is the reality businesses will face for the next decade.

Stewart also said Brocade believes there are business reasons to move parts of the network to IPv6. For instance, he said, application providers need to ensure their clients can access both IPv4 and IPv6 services, while content providers must deliver content to IPv6 clients.

As a result, over the long-term, customers will be moving from IPv4 to a dual IPv4/IPv6 stack, he said.

To help with that migration, Brocade currently offers the ServerIron ADX, an application delivery appliance which enables deployment of IPv6 services in parallel with IPv4. The ServerIron ADX can accept IPv6 requests from IPv6 clients and translate them into IPv4 requests for IPv4 internal hosts.

The company also offers the Brocade MLX series routers which provide wire-speed, dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 routing, Stewart said.

Brocade this week also introduced a number of enhancements to its networking equipment aimed at improving performance as customers make the transition to IPv6.

Next: Addressing The IPv4-to-IPV6 Transition