Digital Ocean needs a ton more IP addresses for all those compute “droplets” it runs for customers. So it’s moving all its data centers to IPv6 by years’ end.

Digital Ocean data center
photo: Digital Ocean

We’ve heard the IPv6 wave is coming — although none too soon — and Digital Ocean is going to ride it. The New York City-based IaaS provider plans to announce Tuesday that it is adding support for the new protocol — which will open up millions of new IP addresses — in its data centers in Singapore, Amsterdam, New York, and San Francisco.

It’s a sort of rolling release, however. Singapore is up first, where the support will be tested out and the company will use that experience to implement across the other data centers, CEO Ben Uretsky said in a recent interview. All of those data centers should be fully aboard IPv6 by years’ end, he added.

Digital Ocean data center

With more mobile devices, sensors and — face it — virtual machines running in clouds coming online by the minute, the demand for unique IP addresses is exploding and that’s leading to IPv4 IP address exhaustion. “The issue is that IPv4 provides something like 4 billion unique addresses, which seemed sufficient in 1980 when the protocol was created, but nowadays there are billions of smartphones alone,” he noted. There are IPv4 workarounds, but they are not elegant, he said.

The regional IP address authorities — the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) in the U.S. — have pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel. Uretsky said there are about 15 million IPv4 addresses left in the U.S. with Europe and Asia pretty much sold out, while there is some remaining capacity in Latin America and Africa. (Microsoft already occasionally assigns IP addresses from other regions to U.S. workloads and if Microsoft can’t get new IPv4 addresses you know we’re in dire straits.)


Source: Akamai

“Cloud computing has accelerated pace of IP address consumption — each of these Droplets we sell and every single Amazon EC2 server needs one. Cloud vendors lowered the barriers to entry but we also exacerbated this address problem,” Uretsky said.

What this means is that all the big cloud providers — Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google etc — need to get off the stick vis-a-vis IPv6 support in their clouds which should happen sooner rather than later. (Google App Engine does support IPv6, as does Amazon’s ELB load balancing service.) IBM SoftLayer already supports IPv6 and Verizon Cloud, due out this year, also supports IPv6.

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  1. That IPv6 data from Akamai (Q4) is already outdated. The U.S. is almost at 8% adoption.


    Note: Most of the recent bump came from CPE turnover in TWC + Comcast. Also T-Mobile went IPv6 only to the handset with Android 4.4 in December of 2013.


    Belgium also jumped 20% iPv6 adoption in Q1 2014.

    1. thanks for your note. i used the most recent akamai data available but it’s worth watching these growth rates agreed.