IP Address Hear this, hear this – there are IP address shortages! This deserves the attention of any service provider in or entering the cloud market! IP address management and usage is rapidly becoming a hot issue with all the regional registries quickly running out of IPv4 addresses to allocate to their customers, and IPv6 still barely in use.  Now more than ever, it is important for service providers to ensure they are optimizing the usage of their existing IP addresses. Within Flexiant, we understand this issue very well, from our past experience providing hosting services, and have built numerous features and functionality into Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator to assist with this.  With the latest release of Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator adding further improvements in this space, now is a good time to recap those features. Networking Modes Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has multiple different networking models, all of which can be used interchangeably depending on the service provider and customer requirements.  All models support both IPv4 and IPv6 capabilities simultaneously. The easiest way to explain them is to break them down into public and private.  Public models are where the networks themselves are designed to be used to access the Internet directly, whereas private models are used for internal traffic.

  • Public

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has two public network models, both of which support a complete range of network services including DHCP and integrated firewalling.  Both models also include complete IP address management from a complete self-service UI for allocating IP addresses to customers and individual machines and for automatically removing them when customers no longer require them (so they can be re-used elsewhere) .  Of course, it is also possible to limit the number of IP addresses a customer can have, to prevent abuse, and equally it is possible to charge on a per IP addresses basis to help to recoup the cost of having a limited supply of them. The two public network modes are public VLAN and public IP:

  1. Public VLAN as the name suggests allocates each customer one or more VLANs as required.  The downside with VLANs is that you have to give dedicated subnets to each VLAN network because of the way they work.  This means that there is always some degree of IP address wastage.
  1. Public IP mode is our solution for customers looking to still have a secure segregated network, but without having to use VLANs or waste IP addresses.  It allows you to allocate IP addresses on an individual basis with no wastage at all. As per above, if a server is deleted that IP address is then immediately available for re-use.
  • Private

For customers wishing to have servers that are not facing the Internet or, for more advanced configurations, we have two ‘private’ networking modes.  This is where the customer is delivered their own layer 2 VLAN and can decide what IP configuration/numbering they wish to run on top of it. This allows customers to securely run as many machines as they require on their own internal numbering system, without having to use up valuable public IP addresses. The two private network modes are private VLAN and interworking VLAN:

  1. Private VLAN allows customers to have dedicated VLANs within a cloud using Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator that are controlled and managed by them.  Customers manage the IP settings, firewalling and protocols used for that network themselves according to whatever configuration they require.
  1. Interworking VLANs are one of the less known, but more powerful networking options in Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator.  They allow an external VLAN to be directly mapped on to a customer account to allow virtual resources to be provisioned and connect onto that external network.  This could be used for hybrid cloud models, direct layer two connectivity from office to cloud, access to hardware firewalls and load balancers and more.  Again the benefit of this is that it can take advantage of existing network connectivity, so isn’t forced to route over the public Internet wasting valuable IP addresses.

Service Network Another feature is our service network, much like public IP is to public VLANS, service networks allow you to create a secure ‘back net’ for all virtual machines (VMs) regardless of which networking mode the VMs are using. This enables the VM to securely communicate with other VMs and to internal resources such as monitoring systems and backup devices.  By provisioning this as a ‘back net’, this can easily use internal IP addressing without causing any loss in functionality to the existing public routing required for any individual virtual machines.

What Next? With IP addresses becoming scarcer as time goes on, and with full IPv6 adoption a long way away, it is key for any service provider building out cloud services to have a strong plan and strategy in place for handling these shortages.  It is also key that a service provider’s technology platform can help deliver that plan.  We believe this is a prime example of how Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator has been built with a service provider focus as we solve this and other service provider problems. Why not have a look at Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator to see if it can solve your problems? We believe it can.











Image Provided by: Chris Potter

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