IPv6 – Is Your Business Taking Steps To Be Prepared For This Transition?

IPv6 – Is Your Business Taking Steps To Be Prepared For This Transition?

By Published On: July 9, 2020Categories: Tech Trends

The Internet Protocol (IP) is a set of instructions and systems a device uses to get a unique address that allows it to communicate with other devices on local area networks, wide area networks and the internet. This address allows unambiguous transfer of data from one device (sometimes called an endpoint) to another.

The increase in cloud computing has created the need for more and more unique addresses on the internet for devices that access these cloud computing resources from smart watches to autonomous vehicles.

History of the Internet Protocol (IP)

IP was developed in the early 1970’s by the United States Department of Defense to create a strong and secure end to end computer network that could span the world. Versions 0 to 3 of the protocol were experimental and the structure of version 4 (IPv4) as described in RFC 791 (published in 1981) is what we use today.

IPv4 uses a 32-bit structure that includes four sets of at most 3 digits separated by a period where each number can be 0 to 255, for example can be an IP address under IPv4. This translates to about 3.7 billion available public addresses to use on the internet.

IPv6, on the other hand uses a 128-bit structure for addressing that contains both letters and numbers in sets of 4 separated by a colon, for example 2607:f0d0:1002:0051:0000:0000:0000:0004. This translates to about 3.4×1038 available addresses.

One of the biggest advantages of IPv6 will be the removal of Network Address Translation (NAT) from link between connecting your device and the internet. This means that every device will be able to have its own public network address and connect directly to the internet.

Other major advantages of changing over to IPv6 include a simplified header that increases network performance through improved routing performance as well as mandatory IP security (IPSec) compliance.

Motivation to upgrade from IPv4 to IPv6

There are two main motivators for companies to upgrade from IPv4 to IPv6; exhaustion of IPv4 addresses accelerated by the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon and the improved routing capabilities.

This explosion of network address requirements by the modern internet led many industry experts to predict an exhaustion of available IPv4 addresses within that decade or by the early 2000’s. The internet was beginning to pick up speed with the growth of the ‘dot com’ era where everyone was creating websites and connecting to the internet.

NAT In the Nick of Time

The development of NAT helped to delay that prediction by a few years with the last Regional Internet Registry (RIR); Africa (AFRINIC), entering Phase 2 of IPv4 exhaustion in 2020. Network Address Translation is a method of sub-setting several ‘hidden’ addresses under one address that is exposed to the internet. This means that many endpoints can be serviced by one internet attached address, reducing the number of IPv4 internet addresses required.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The BYOD trend has placed a burden on company networks and their available address space over the past few years. Contrary to the early 2000’s where it was common to receive a company issued mobile phone and/or computer, the rapidly changing internet connected device market made this practice obsolete.

With employees becoming more satisfied due to having increased choices and companies saving costs on not having to purchase company-issued devices, the focus shifted to fortifying internal company networks as to embrace BYOD without compromising security.

Implementing IPv6 today is easier than you think

In the consumer market, there is a plethora of routers to choose from, some of which support IPv6 and some do not. It is therefore imperative to run hardware audits of equipment to determine where upgrades may be required. Most operating systems also provide native support for both IP versions.

The system of running IPv4 and IPv6 side by side is called dual stacking since the two standards do not have cross compatibility. The changeover from one to the other is going to take time so consumer and enterprise level devices need to support both IPs in the interim.

The major undertaking in switching over will be implementation of IP Address Management systems that can efficiently allocate addresses on the network. This is because the current IPv4 systems will not be able to handle the address lengths as well the routing requirements of IPv6.

The professionals at ASB Resources have the right know-how to help your company prepare for IPv6 and stay at the cutting edge of internet connectivity. Schedule a call with one of our experts today!

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