Introducing IPv6 support on Oracle network load balancer

February 1, 2022 | 5 minute read
Lilian Quan
Senior Principal Solutions Architect
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We’re pleased to announce the IPv6 support on our flexible network load balancer. The IPv6 support on network load balancers is important for end-to-end IPv6 networking and scalable native IPv6 application deployments.

Background

The global shortage of IPv4 addresses has been a dire situation, and it only gets worse with the rise of a new range of applications that consume more IP addresses, such as internet of things applications or 5G use cases. For more regions and organizations, IPv6 adoption is no longer optional but mandatory. For the rest, the question becomes less about whether to make the transition and more about when or how soon to start.

At Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), we’re committed to helping you start and carry out their IPv6 transition smoothly and efficiently. We launched IPv6 support in OCI virtual cloud networks (VCNs) in 2021, so you can deploy IPv4 and IPv6 dual-stack VCNs. The IPv6 support on the VCN network gateways, including internet gateways, local peering gateway (LPGs), dynamic routing gateway (DRGs), and NAT gateways, allows you to build end-to-end IPv6 network connectivity throughout your cloud networks, their on-premises networks, and the internet.

Now, we’re adding the IPv6 support on our network load balancer. It enables you to deploy more scalable and reliable IPv6 native networks and applications in Oracle Cloud.

Feature overview

With the IPv6 support for network load balancers, we introduce the support for IPv6 VIPs, listeners, and backends on network load balancers in addition to the current support of IPv4 VIPs, listeners, and backends. Essentially, it’s an IPv4 and IPv6 dual-stack network load balancer. You now can create a network load balancer with both IPv4 and IPv6 VIP addresses and use the same network load balancer to load balance the traffic for both of their IPv4 and IPv6 network appliances or workloads.

While a network load balancer can be IPv4 and IPv6 dual-stack, its listeners and backend sets are single-stack. If you configure multiple listeners, each is either IPv4 or IPv6. An IPv4 listener can only have IPv4 backends while an IPv6 listener can only have IPv6 backends. IPv4 traffic is load-balanced based on the IPv4 listener configuration, and IPv6 traffic is load-balanced based on the IPv6 listener configuration. The following figure illustrates the concept of a dual-stack network load balancer with single-stack listeners and backends.

A graphic depicting a Dual-Stack Network Load Balancer with IPv4 and IPv6 Listeners and Backends

The new IPv6 support on the OCI native network load balancer eliminates the need to deploy third-party network load balancers for handling IPv6 traffic. It simplifies the cloud network designs and allows our customers to build more cloud native networks on OCI. With a dual-stack network load balancer, customers can use a single flexible network load balancer to perform network-level traffic load balancing for both of their IPv4 and IPv6 workloads. It naturally extends the following benefits of the flexible network load balancer to their native IPv6 applications:

  • It offers a scalable regional VIP address with capacity that can scale up or down dynamically based on client traffic.

  • It enables the flexible and scalable deployment of applications.

  • It increases the fault tolerance and availability of applications.

A dual-stack network load balancer also allows you to onboard your IPv6 applications and services to your existing cloud environments with the least disruption.

Getting started

Enable IPv6 in your VCNs and subnets where you want to place your IPv6 network load balancer. For more information on configuring IPv6 in a VCN, refer to IPv6 Addresses.

Also enable IPv6 and assign IPv6 addresses to the endpoints that you plan to use as the backends of your IPv6 listeners. To enable and configure IPv6 on an OCI virtual machine (VM) instance, see the documentation.

Use the following steps to enable and configure IPv6 on your network load balancer:

Key scenarios

East-west IPv4 and IPv6 traffic with network load balancing

You can configure a dual-stack network load balancer to load balance for a set of IPv4 workloads and a set of IPv6 workloads that can be accessed by other IPv4 or IPv6 compute instances or clients in the same VCN, different VCNs, or even VCNs in a different region. This capability allows scalable east-west IPv4 or IPv6 communication.

A graphic depicting the architecture for east-west IPv4 and IPv6 traffic with network load balancing

North-south IPv4 and IPv6 traffic with network load balancing

With the IPv4 applications and services we’re offering from the cloud, you can deploy native IPv6 applications in the cloud and offer the IPv6-based services to the end users that reside on the internet or your on-premises sites. The dual-stack network load balancer can frontend both your IPv4 and IPv6 application workloads with network-level load balancing for the north-south communication.

A graphic depicting the architecture for north-south IPv4 and IPv6 traffic with network load balancing

Conclusion

At OCI, we’re rapidly expanding our IPv6 capabilities and offerings. This new addition of IPv6 support on our flexible network load balancer is one important step forward to help our customers start or continue with their IPv6 adoptions. The dual-stack network load balancer offers a natural extension of the network load balancer functions from IPv4 only to IPv6, and it allows our customers to onboard new IPv6 applications and services to their existing cloud environments with the least disruption.

Thank you for reading this blog. On behalf of the virtual networking product team, we encourage you to share any product feedback that you have in the comments. Keep watching the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure space for updates as we add more exciting capabilities.

For more information, see the following resources:

Lilian Quan

Senior Principal Solutions Architect


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