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Deploying Dual-Stack IPv4 and IPv6 Networks

Doing an IPv6 implementation project does not involve tearing down an aging IPv4 network and replacing it with a new IPv6-enabled network. Instead, the IPv4 and IPv6 networks will run in parallel in what the industry calls a "dual-stack" network. But IPv4 and IPv6 are so significantly different in design that network management tools designed for an IPv4 network may not work the same in an IPv6 environment.

Second, Edwards says, perform an audit of services to run on the network, such as SMTP for e-mail and DNS for associating Internet domains and unique IP addresses. The audit should identify which of the network services may be IPv6-supported.

The next step is to build an IPv6-only test network and run the same services and applications that already run on the IPv4 network. In the test environment, document any differences in configuration syntax and behavior for setting up the service under IPv6.

The fourth step is to write a detailed IPv6 deployment plan that lays out in as much detail as possible how the rollout will occur. The plan should be shown to management for approval; it can also be peer-reviewed to make sure that nothing is overlooked.

Last, write a formal IP-addressing policy for going forward. This policy could also be peer-reviewed.

Some companies are going to discover that the network management tools designed to operate on an IPv4 network may not work the same way on an IPv6 network, says Jim Frey, managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates.

"There are still some challenges with how to manage these mixed environments. Underneath the covers there is actually, in many cases, a different set of data being drawn about the IPv6 traffic versus the IPv4 traffic."

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