What is IPv6?

IPv6 is short for "Internet Protocol Version 6". IPv6 is the "next generation" protocol designed by the IETF to replace the current version Internet Protocol, IP Version 4 ("IPv4").

Most of today's internet uses IPv4, which is now nearly twenty years old. IPv4 has been remarkably resilient in spite of its age, but it is beginning to have problems. Most importantly, there is a growing shortage of IPv4 addresses, which are needed by all new machines added to the Internet. This shortage will make it increasingly difficult to connect new devices to the Internet.

IPv6 fixes a number of problems in IPv4, such as the limited number of available IPv4 addresses. It also adds many improvements to IPv4 in areas such as routing and network autoconfiguration. IPv6 is expected to gradually replace IPv4, with the two coexisting for a number of years during a transition period.

Businesses and organisations need to acquire IPv6 skills now, before the protocol starts creeping into the edges of their networks. networking professionals have done little to prepare themselves for IPv6, even though use of the new version of the Internet Protocol will explode in just a few years.

Why is it necessary?

IP version 4 defines a 32-bit address. This means there are 2^32 (4,294,967,296) unique IPv4 adresses available. This may sound like a big number. It is not, most of them are already tied up and the Internet is simply running out of IPs.

The address shortage problem is aggravated by the fact that portions of the IP address space have not been efficiently allocated. Current estimates put IPv4 depletion around 2011.

Network Address Translation (NAT)

A technology called NAT or Network Address Translation is widely implemented to temporarily solve the IP address shortage and is commonly used to provide additional network security. A NAT firewall is placed between the real Internet and local area networks. NAT allows computers on the local network to connect with the outside world, but because the machines on the local network do not have their own Internet IPs they can not be directly accessed from the outside.

Some Very Huge numbers

Compare the numbers.. ..and realize why IPv6 is great:

  • Total number of IPv4 IP Addresses: 4,294,967,296
  • Number of IP Addresses in a IPv6 /64 prefix, the typical space a home user gets: 18,446,744,073,709,551,616

IPv6 gives citizens the opportunity to become real Internet participants. IPv4 makes citizens into passive consumers who are only able to connect to compartmentalized networks run by companies or governments. This is why the establishment does not want IPv6.

There is a total of 2^128, or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 unique IPv6 addresses. That's roughly 667 quadrillion addresses per square millimeter of the Earth's surface!

Is Vostron Ready?

By employing hardware sourced from the leading network vendors such as Cisco and Juniper, Vostron has ensured that all of its core network hardware is IPv6 capable. The Vostron IP/MPLS network is fully dual-stacked, meaning that it runs both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously.

What should I do?

At the moment there are no reasons to immediately switch to IPv6. There are many benefits of using IPv6, particularly if you have multiple sites and frequently encounter problems caused by NAT. Large organisations should now be testing IPv6 technology internally and making sure any new hardware and software they purchase will operate correctly with IPv6. Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Vista, Mac OS X and Linux are known to work corrently with Linux. Infact both Mac OS X and Vista prefer to operate their own services via IPv6!

Do not panic just yet, but be aware IPv6 is most definitely on the horizon and now is the best time to start the planning process and develop IPv6 skills.

Vostron can provide non-SLAed IPv6 connectivity to customers wishing to experiment and plan their IPv6 migration.