Cray Pushing IPv6 to Next Level

MCI is providing high performance computing company Cray with an IPv6 network in order to perform interoperability testing on its supercomputers.

IPv6 is the next generation protocol for the Internet, which currently uses IPv4.

The existing IPv4 protocol is almost 20 years old. IPv6 is expected to address limitations in IPv4, including limited IP address space for the growing number of devices connecting to the Internet and private IP-enabled networks.

Using MCI’s IPv6 overlay that rides its global IP backbone, Cray plans to test next-generation applications and software for the Cray X1 Supercomputer product line.

Darren Dehnke, network engineer at Cray, said due to the finite number of IPv4 addresses within today’s current environment, Cray is experiencing an increasing demand from the U.S. government and from Asia-Pacific customers for hardware, software and applications that are IPv6 compliant.

IPv6 is also expected to add improvements over IPv4, including enhanced network routing, network auto-configuration and stronger security. It also allows for better support for mobility and more easily enables renumbering.

IPv6 will gradually replace IPv4, with the two protocols co-existing for a number of years during the transition.

“Our customers are making long-term investments in their network infrastructure so it is critical that Cray supercomputers have the capability to evolve with IP technology,” Dehnke said. “MCI is helping us to meet our customers’ needs today, while positioning Cray for future migration to IPv6 as its usage becomes more widespread.”

MCI has supported native IPv6 services since 1998 when it deployed the first production IPv6 capable network in the United States. In addition, MCI offers a public IPv6 overlay network in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The Ashburn, Va.-based MCI is also collaborating with the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) to connect the North American IPv6 Task Force’s Moonv6 next-generation Internet network to the commercial Internet backbone, allowing direct nationwide connections to the test bed.

Moonv6 is the largest permanently deployed multi-vendor IPv6 network and stretches from New Hampshire to California. Phase 3 of Moonv6 testing concluded on Nov. 12 of last year at UNH-IOL.

The tests ran included functionality and deployment scenarios including wired and unwired LANs , DNS , DHCP , firewalls and a range of other network infrastructure applications.

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