Cisco ACE Gets IPv6 Support
October 18, 2011 1 Comment
Last month (with little fanfare) Cisco released 5(1.0) for the ACE 4710 appliance and ACE30 Service Modules, bringing IPv6 support for the first time.
Yes, September of 2011, and Cisco’s load balancing platform finally gets IPv6. It’s a dual-stack implementation for free, and with an extra license fee, you can get the protocol translation (IPv6 VIP with an IPv4 server as the most common example) as well. Honestly, I’m not sure why Cisco decided to charge extra for the NAT64, since IPv6 is pretty much useless on load balancers without that ability. F5, A10, and several other load balancing vendors don’t charge for the IPv6/4 translation component. Also, the ACE10 and ACE20 service modules (the later which has a pretty large install base) will never have IPv6 support. (Cisco has an aggressive pricing plan for ACE10/20 to ACE30 upgrades).
So why are IPv6 load balancers worthless without 6/4 conversion? It’s very likely that web applications servers will be among the laggards in the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. You’ll pry IPv4 out of their cold, dead, unpatched hands. The 6/4 conversion allows you to setup an IPv6 VIP to communicate with the future Internet, while the servers run their familiar IPv4.
Honestly, I’m very underwhelmed by the Cisco ACE product line lately. They’re pretty far behind the competition (F5, A10, Citrix NetScaler, Radware) in terms of features, and Cisco doesn’t seem to be doing much about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine for what it does. But other companies are innovating, and Cisco seems to be content with letting the ACE lineup stagnate, just like they did with the LocalDirector and the CSS. I’d like to see Cisco up their game with true content logic (like F5’s iRules). But considering Cisco discontinued their line of XML Gateways/Web Application Firewalls, it seems pretty unlikely they will.
Traffic control languages like iRules are double edged swords: They can solve a lot of problems, but they can also create a lot of problems when trying to solve problems. I’ve seen them save the day, and I’ve seen them consume an entire network department in a DevOps nightmare worthy of DevOps Borat. Still, I’d rather have it, than not.