With an Internet-wide transition from Internet protocol version 4 (IPv4) to IPv6 looming, IT departments are increasingly turning to various tools that automate and manage the IPv4 to IPv6 transition lifecycle.
These tools will become increasingly important to numerous organizations as Web architectures move from the IPv4 64-bit architecture to the IPv6 128-bit architecture. In many cases, organizations will have to coexist between both Internet protocols, as end users and networks undergo the transition, said Zeus Kerravala, senior VP for the Yankee Group.
"If you're running to catch up to IPv6, it's going to put tremendous strain on your organization," Kerravala said in an interview. "Companies will be either running to catch up or will be in coexist mode for probably a couple decades, so the key is to be able to have a set of Internet-based lifecycle tools that help with the coexistence."
Companies can attempt to migrate between the two protocols using manual tools, but it can be time consuming and prone to errors, Kerravala said. The increasing use of multiple devices in the enterprise is compounding the difficulty. "You can see the number of devices per user going up and when you combine that with complexity of the IPv6 address, which is 128 bits long, it is much harder to manage."
One such management tool comes from Infoblox, which has been positioning itself as a key vendor to facilitate IPv6 migration with its DDI management products. DDI is the acronym for three network infrastructure services managed by the service: domain name solution (DNS), dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP), and IP address management (IPAM).
Infoblox claims its DDI management product is used by 210 of the Global 500 for IP address management functionality for both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. The Infoblox IPv6 capabilities include: AAAA record tracking for DNS resolution, IPv4 and IPv6 IP address management, delegation and automation for complex addressing tasks, automated IPv6 network change, and configuration management.
"We think that the move to IPv6 will cause an enormous disruption in the IT industry and for better or worse, it's a good thing for us," said Cricket Liu, Infoblox VP of architecture and technology, in an interview. "A lot of people are looking for tools to manage the IPv6 addresses, help with transition, and manage IPv4 in parallel."
Infoblox announced Tuesday new functions to its DDI that further this effort, including automated IP address assignment (DHCP) functionality for an IPv6 networks, which enables assignment and delivery of an IPv6 address to all IPv6 devices. It also added DNS64 support, which the company says is essential for enabling translation between new IPv6 assets and legacy IPv4 "islands." Customers can deploy the Infoblox DNS64 solution to allow IPv6-only devices the ability to easily connect and operate with IPv4-only systems seamlessly, which allows end users to transition to the newer protocol.
Currently, an estimated 95% of worldwide IPv4 address spaces are being used and the remaining 5% in the North America region are expected to be snatched up by the end of the year, according to ARIN, the North American registry that maintains the database of Web identifiers.
Because of this, a mass migration to IPv6 is expected to occur over the next few years, as organizations must update and transition to the new 128-bit IP. However, it remains to be seen if IT departments use IPAM tools like the Infoblox DDI products, or perform the migration manually. With DNS and DHCP built into Windows, many IT admins in small and midsize businesses haven't had much need to dive into IPAM yet.