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IPv6 in the Enterprise Data Center – Why is it important

Community Manager
Safwan Ahmed 
   Safwan Ahmed | September 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm PST
   as posted on

Why is it important to start thinking about IPv6 across your entire network especially the data center?
Remember the term Y2K? The panic and haphazardness that was there to  ensure every single device and application was compatible with Y2K? I  see IPv6 as a similar situation except that there is no impending date  forcing you to adopt it.

The more you wait, the more you lose time to develop IPv6  architecture with ease and peace of mind so that things are done right.  And if not done way ahead of time, then you may end up doing things  quickly to ensure the business is operational with a poorly designed and  operated IPv6 network.

The Next Generation Data Center
IPv6 is becoming ever increasingly important and critical with the  success and proliferation of mobile devices and other such applications  that require enormous addressing needs. Lot of customers are taking the  first step to enable IPv6 in their Internet edge, Campus and WAN edges, but very few customer are realizing the importance of enabling IPv6 inside their data centers.

I came across few such customers that are eager to enable IPv6 inside  the data center but have not done any planning or design. Before coming  to the reasons why they are eager, it is nevertheless important to say  that IPv6 is going to be the protocol of the future.

As an Advanced Services Solutions Architect for the Data Center  Practices team, one of my jobs is to deliver planning and designing  workshop for customers who are looking into building their “next  generation data center architecture”. The word Next Generation is enough  to tell them that they should start not only planning and design but  most importantly start assessing their data center devices and design to enable IPv6.

My Experience with Customers
In this post, I want to share my experience with customers who are  seriously planning to take the next step of building the next generation  data center, yet are completely skipping IPv6 in their planning phase.  For most of these customers, replacing the Catalyst platform with the  newer Nexus platform is extent of building the next generation data  center in their minds.

Others want to use the newer, cooler features in the Nexus platform  like vPC, VDC, OTV and FabricPath. Agreed, that these features and  architectures would entitle their data centers to be called “next  generation” but the actual plumbing of the new data Center is still the  same: IPv4.

Change the Plumbing, its time
In my view, the real next generation architecture is where you enable  the new plumbing system inside the data center and be ready to shift to  the enormous and powerful protocol when the business needs you to.

Migrating or integrating IPv6 is not a job that will take few days or  months. It will take serious planning and effort to ensure that the  expertise in-house is familiar and comfortable with the gigantic  protocol whose similarity with IPv4 ends at the first three letters used  to represent both the protocols: IPv ;-)

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