IPv6 Support on SWITCHengines

Since the early 1980s, the Internet has been using the IPv4 protocol and packet format.  This has proven remarkably robust and supported the growth from a small research network to a global critical infrastructure with billions of users.  It has an important flaw, though, namely the 32-bit address, which limits the number of addressable devices ("hosts").  This has led to complications such as the widespread use of NAT, requiring expensive state management in the network and making many applications hard to implement.

IPv6 solves the address limitation by moving to 128-bit addresses.  It also introduces a few other functional enhancements, such as built-in support for automatic (and serverless) address configuration and a simplified header format.

Although IPv6 was developed in the mid-1990s, it has only recently gained widespread support.  In 2016, many large Internet players support IPv6: Google, Facebook and many others provide Web content over IPv6, broadband ISPs such as Swisscom enable it by default, and several mobile carriers have started to move towards IPv6.

SWITCH has been working with IPv6 since 1997, and offers it on all network connections and most services since the early 2000s.  Due to software limitations, we weren't able to offer it in SWITCHengines for a long time.  (Sadly even the leading "Infrastructure as a Service" offerings such as Amazon EC2 or Google Compute Engine still have little to no IPv6 support as of now.)

But since the upgrade to OpenStack "Kilo", we are able to support IPv6 for SWITCHengines instances. We have added IPv6 support to the default network ("private"). And it is now possible to add IPv6 support for a tenant network too.

We hope to continually improve this support over the next months, so stay tuned!