The Cost of IPv6 on Amazon Web Services

AWS is a great platform for businesses that have the technical savvy to administer servers and applications but do not want to bear the costs and responsibilities of on-site physical infrastructure. What AWS’s engineers have accomplished is very impressive. Given this achievement, I am surprised that several IaaS competitors have beaten AWS in rolling out native IPv6. AWS does offer IPv6 transport to its Elastic Load Balancers (ELB), which provides a mechanism for getting your web content reachable using IPv6. The interesting aspect of this limited IPv6 offering is that—unlike many IPv6 deployments on physical gear—you can calculate the exact cost of IPv6 on AWS.

Using ELBs to enable IPv6 web transactions is straightforward. I’ve detailed the process in another blog post, so I won’t go through the steps again. Refer to that post or AWS documentation for how to do this. The important point to understand is that one balancer is needed regardless of whether or not load balancing is needed. Take a small business’s website such as my own. The database and web server reside on a single instance. I don’t need high availability, as I am not doing e-commerce. Yet to allow the site to be reachable on IPv6, I have to pay for an ELB to operate 24×7.

AWS’s ELB pricing in USD is as follows.

  • $0.025 per Elastic Load Balancer-hour (or partial hour)
  • $0.008 per GB of data processed by an Elastic Load Balancer

Most web sites that are serving non-video content will consume less than 5 GB per month. We’ll use this figure for our calculation. The cost of bandwidth is very small relative to the cost of ELB hours, so a site could use much more data without drastically changing the overall cost. The total yearly cost for IPv6 in this hypothetical example is $219.60.

You will pay AWS about $220 per year for the IPv6 ELB hack. This is not a huge sum and definitely worth the money for companies that need to offer content over IPv6. The principle of paying AWS $220 for limited IPv6 connectivity bothers me. I suggested to AWS on a forum that it waive the fee for an ELB associated with a single instance. I never got a response.

I’ll conclude this post with two questions for AWS.

  1. Where is native IPv6? It’s almost 2013! I’m sure getting all the backend systems to support IPv6 is a massive undertaking. Still, you’re the oldest kid on the IaaS block. It’s time to deliver on native IPv6.
  2. In the meantime, why not cut your customers that are forced to pay for the IPv6 ELB hack a break because you haven’t deployed IPv6?


  1. Wes Felter says

    EC2 has never been a good idea for really small customers; unfortunately it looks like a good idea and the uncritical press isn’t really helping. But since Amazon hasn’t cared for the last 6 years I wouldn’t expect them to change.

  2. Simon Leinen says

    Good post, although Amazon is better than most other IaaS providers in this respect. The exception seems to be Rackspace, where I found full IPv6 support on the VM instances when I tested them (not thoroughly).

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