Here we make an attempt to demystify IPv6 transition including its advantages over IPv4 and why organizations should consider deploying it
BANGALORE, INDIA: The Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) is the first standardized version of the internet protocol. Introduced almost three decades ago though, it is still relevant and is the dominant network protocol in use today. The re-combination of digits in its 32-bit addressing system provides for 4.3 billion addresses which were assumed to be sufficient for the growth of Internet. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was given the responsibility of allocating these addresses and it did so by distributing a subset of these to the regional Internet Registries in blocks of approximately 16.8 million addresses each.
Also, in April 2011, the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Registry (APNIC RIR) entered the last stages of IPv4 allocation, making it much difficult for organizations in that region of the world to obtain the IPv4 address space that they would justify for under previous policies. The remaining regions will follow in the near future. Although IPv4 has served its purpose well so far, it did not anticipate and provide for the exponential growth of the Internet, the network security threats and the encryption needs.
Limitations of IPv4
The ubiquity of Internet and the increasing number of servers, workstations and devices are rapidly leading to a scarcity of available public IPv4 addresses. The value of IPv4 addresses is well illustrated by the fact that Microsoft bought 666,624 IP addresses from Nortel for USD 7.5 million in 2011. With several other constraints such as lack of in-built network security and limited Quality of Service (QoS), the stage is set.
Why an enterprise should consider IPv6
By 2015, there will be more than 7.1 billion mobile connected devices globally. Smartphones, home and industrial appliances, Internet connected transportation, integrated telephony, sensor networks, distributed computing, gaming, online business and all other spheres are being driven by the Internet increasingly. The phenomenal growth in the number of objects connecting to the network and the interactions between them brings an increased focus on the rate of depletion of IPv4 addresses, network security and QoS making the transition to IPv6 inevitable. Not adopting IPv6 will not only limit the growth of Internet but also the business potential of enterprises. As more and more users start adopting IPv6-only devices, enterprises with IPv4 websites will lose out on business opportunities if they do not provide for this shift.
Realizing the urgency, governments across the world are mandating a transition to IPv6. The US government has mandated its federal agencies to ensure that all 10000 of its websites support IPv6 by September 2012 and internal applications that communicate with public Internet servers migrate to IPv6 by 2014. In India, the Telecommunication Engineering Center under the Department of Telecommunications has been given the mandate to facilitate a smooth transition from IPv4 to IPv6.