IPv6: Floating IPs and Duplicate Address Detection

The very nature of the floating IPs can lead to some classical quirks in a distributed system network. This discussion mainly focuses on IPv6, and how its duplicate IP detection mechanism can clash with the floating IP technique.

Floating IPs are a common scenario in Highly Available or Scaled-out Distributed Systems. The basic idea behind it is to have a transient IP address that can move from one node to another, keeping the change of serving-node transparent on the access-side of the network. For instance, if there are two server machines, each represented by an unique IP, and one of them goes down, then its IP address “floats” to the other server which will henceforth process the client requests. This technique is widely used to provide seamless transition from one serving-node to another in case of failures. One such implementation is present in OpenStack Nova.

On the other hand, Duplicate Address Detection (DAD) is a mechanism to identify if same IP is assigned to multiple nodes in a local network. It is implemented using the Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP) under IPv6. It uses the Neighbor Solicitation (NS) and Neighbor Advertisement (NA) messages. The operation is applicable to all the IPs that are link-local. More specifically:

  • all the IPs that fall under the link-local address-family
  • all the IPs that fall under global address-family but are present on the same LAN (one hop away on the link)

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