A little background on IPv6, it has been in development for over 20 years. It was released and approved in 1996, but initial work began in 1992. Its release was a reaction to the dwindling IPv4 addresses. Say what, dwindling IPv4 addresses in 1992?! Yes, that is correct and there has been IPv4 features to help address the IPv4 exhaustion issue such as NAT. Just after 10 years since IPv6 development began, there was only 1/3 of the remaining IPv4 addresses left, which leads us to today.

The Game of Chicken Begins!

American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced on 9/24/2015 that they had officially depleted their IPv4 address pools. Reseaux IP Europeans Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) announced their depletion of IPv4 address polls back on 9/14/2012.

With the last few IPv4 addresses being allocated, there are a number of ways to still obtain IPv4 addresses like utilizing IPv4 brokers, leveraging ISP addresses and striking deals with organizations that hold IPv4 addresses, but this will ultimately get pricey and does not provide for a feasible long term strategy.

While IPv6 does have its learning curves, organizations will need to support a dual stack environment (IPv4 and IPv6) for several years until the IPv4 to IPv6 migration has completed. With Internet presence being critical for organizations, those that are waiting for larger adoption of IPv6 or completely ignoring it, are playing a dangerous game of chicken.

IPv6 Features

  • Native Security – Built with security in mind and made IPSec mandatory which provides encryption between end points. IPv4 adapted IPSec as an optional solution as the need for security in the IPv4 internet was required.
  • Efficient Routing – Allows ISPs to aggregate the prefixes of customers into a single prefix that can be announced on the IPv6 Internet. This leads to a drastically reduced internet routing table. Source devices handle fragmentation and thus are responsible to discover and fix the MTU size for the network path. Also, IPv4 performs a checksum at each hop, but with IPv6 this checksum is removed and allows for faster packet processing and ultimately increased performance.
  • Data Directed Flows – There are no more broadcast transmissions, as it relies completely on multicast to send packet flows to multiple destinations. IPv6 anycast allows for IP flows to be sent out to the nearest anycast address which directs the connection to the closest resource, provides a high level of availability and reduces configuration overhead for geographical dependent services such as DNS or Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

Why Migrate to IPv6?

IPv6 migrations won’t happen overnight and require a lot of planning and design to implement an effective dual stack solution to accommodate the transition phase of IPv6. Gartner predicts by 2020 there will be 20.8 Billion new devices brought online, due to a recent tread in Internet of Things (IoT) [1]. This massive influx of these everyday devices communicating over the internet cannot be supported by IPv4 and will drive the requirement for organizations to migrate fully to IPv6. There will be some legacy access to IPv4, but over the years this will decline and become very costly to maintain. As the transition to IPv6 occurs, organizations that are ignoring this move will begin to risk business growth due to a lack of Internet presence.

[1] – Gartner IoT Projections

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