Department of Defense
High Performance Computing Modernization Program

What is Cloud Computing?

The definition of computing has been slowly evolving for centuries. The concept of cloud computing has been rapidly evolving ever since it first appeared in 1996 or so. Since “cloud computing” is an even vaguer concept than “computing”, it is not realistic to expect a comprehensive description.

Many have attempted to provide one anyway. Some examples: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offered a terse technical description in 2011. A company called phoenixNAP offered a longer, less-technical description with examples in 2018. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, currently offers an even longer description including a history of cloud computing and a list of some similar concepts.

Cloud Computing available under GSA contracts

In October, 2010, the United States (US) General Services Administration (GSA) awarded 11 vendors spots on the first government-wide contract for cloud computing. The initial ordering period has ended for these blanket purchase agreements for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), which included cloud storage, virtual machines and web hosting services with support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). Details for currently available cloud acquisition vehicles are available on the GSA website. More information about cloud computing was available on the Cloud.CIO.gov website [material from that website was archived March, 2015, and is available here for reference]. A Best Business Practices for US Government (USG) Cloud Adoption guide is available on the GSA website.

Also available from the 18F office of GSA’s Technology Transformation Services for use by Federal Agencies is the platform-as-a-service cloud.gov, which is built on top of the open source Cloud Foundry cloud computing platform mentioned below.

USG Requirements for IPv6

The requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations as amended in Dec, 2009 (as described in the IPv6 Boiler Plate Acquisitions Language article in the Deployment section) always apply. Explicit requirements for IPv6 are in the Cloud Security Guidance document mentioned in the Secure Cloud Computing section below. Requirements were included in early documents of the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) -- for example, this Sept 2012 SecaaS Implementation Guidance, Network Security document.

IPv6 support may not always be an explicit requirement in recent government documents such as the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, June, 2019, also called “Cloud Smart”, but it is required.

Cloud Service Providers that support IPv6

There are many lists of cloud service providers and the services that these providers offer varies widely, but few of these lists specifically include providers that are accessible via IPv6, as do the lists available herehere and here. Since those lists were published, some of the cloud service providers in the United States that have added or expanded their support for IPv6 include:

  1. Amazon Web Services (AWS) added support (migrating to IPv6 and restrictions on IPv6 addressing in Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) are described here),
  2. Google Cloud Platform added support,
  3. Microsoft Azure Virtual Network expanded its IPv6 support,
  4. Oracle Cloud Services added support for selected services, and
  5. VMware vSphere added IPv6 support. 

In China, Alibaba has announced IPv6 support for their Alibaba Cloud.

Content and applications that natively support IPv4-only access may (or may not) become dual stack (IPv6 in addition to legacy IPv4) accessible when hosted by a cloud service provider that supports IPv6. Verify that content and applications that natively support IPv4-only will become dual stack accessible. Verify the additional cost for IPv6 support (if any). Verify that connectivity via IPv6 to the cloud service provider’s locations is available from the geographic locations included in your IPv6 deployment effort.

If IPv4-only content and applications will not become dual stack accessible, then you might want to consider using one of the other services or products described in the Content and Applications Delivery over IPv6 article in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. This article from Nephos6 suggests some additional cloud service acquisition considerations.

Secure Cloud Computing

An informal overview of several of the concerns that must be addressed to achieve and maintain data security in cloud computing are described in this article.

Information about the Federal government’s security assessment, authorization, and monitoring of cloud vendors may be found on GSA’s Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) website. Among other documents available (see this listing) on the FedRAMP website is an Agency Cloud Procurement Best Practices guide (also called "Creating Effective Cloud Computing Contracts"). 

Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) support for IPv6 is discussed in this article.

Information about secure deployment of clouds may be found here:

  1. Cloud Security Alliance Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing version 4.0 document,
  2. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Information Assurance Support Environment (IASE) DoD Cloud Computing Security website,
  3. Department of Homeland Security Cloud Security Guidance version 0.2 document, and more recently in the Cloud Interface Reference Architecture documents (see the IPv6 and Trusted Internet Connections article for details),
  4. Federal CIO Council (CIOC) Information Security and Identity Management Committee (ISIMC) Guidelines for the Secure Use of Cloud Computing by Federal Departments and Agencies V0.41 (draft), and
  5. National Security Agency Mitigating Cloud Vulnerabilities, January 2020.

Open Source Cloud Computing Platforms

There are numerous open source cloud computing platforms and more are being announced all the time. As was the case with cloud service providers, the services these platforms offer varies widely. A few that support IPv6 include:

  1. Abiquo: Support for IPv6 described in this article.
  2. Apache Cloudstack: Support for IPv6 is described in this article.
  3. Cloud Foundry: Support for IPv6 is described in this article.
  4. Linode: Support for IPv6 is described in this article.
  5. OpenStack: In January, 2011, the OpenStack consortium announced that the next release of Compute, Image Services, and Object Storage modules included support for IPv6. This article provides an introduction to the software architecture and modules in OpenStack. The 2013 Havana release of OpenStack is described in an article from Nephos6. This document and this article describe what it takes to run the 2015 OpenStack Kilo release on IPv6. This document describes running the OpenStack Newton Oct 2016 release (and subsequent releases in that series) on IPv6. This document describes deploying IPv6-only tenants with OpenStack, while this document describes deploying IPv6 with Provider Networks.
  6. Red Hat OpenShift: In May, 2018, IPv6 support was added to the OpenShift support roadmap. Configuring IPv6 Networking for the OpenShift Overcloud is documented here.

 


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