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IPv6 Migration: 10 Reasons To Get Moving

  • For years, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has encouraged organizations to migrate from IPv4 to IPv6. In the past, the effort may have seemed superfluous. With 4.3 billion unique IP addresses, IPv4 was more than sufficient to allow anyone or anything to connect to the Internet.

    But a lot has changed over the last 20 years. Migrating to IPv6 is no longer a project IT organizations can afford to put on hold. Still, it may be difficult to convince upper management otherwise with high-profile projects like cloud and mobility on the docket. With that in mind, here are the top reasons why IT organizations should make an IPv6 migration a priority.

    (Image: geralt/Pixabay)

  • We are out of IPv4 addresses

    If for no other reason, you should begin your IPv6 migration because publicly available IPv4 addresses have been exhausted. The American Registry for Internet Numbers announced in April that it had reached the fourth and final phase of its IPv4 countdown plan. At that time, fewer than 17 million IPv4 addresses remained. Other regions have already crossed this milestone and their registries have tightened their respective IP address supplies. Meanwhile, the number and types of devices and sensors that need IP addresses are increasing. Between the depletion of IPv4 addresses and the growing need for them, organizations have no choice but to migrate to IPv6. Photo: Thierry Ehrmann

  • IPv6 migration won't happen overnight

    IT organizations no longer have time to wait and see whether an IPv6 migration is worth the trouble. Migration is a necessary but complex process. Consider this: A migration entails upgrading, reconfiguring and testing all hardware and software. This includes infrastructure such as routers, switches, servers and storage arrays; end user devices like desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets; and security devices and software like firewalls, and intrusion-detection systems. Of course, youll want to take advantage of the new configuration and management capabilities IPv6 delivers, so network operations as well as architecture and engineering policies will need to be updated. All of this work could take years, so start now. Photo: Karl Anderson

  • IPv6 is necessary for business growth

    Technological innovation has become the key to business success in the 21st century. From mobile apps to nontraditional computing devices populating the Internet of Things, businesses rely on ITs ability to deliver new services to both end users and customers. But these services and the infrastructure used to support them require IP addresses -- and that means an IPv6 migration. Those organizations that choose not to migrate to IPv6 risk constraining their ability to innovate and drive business growth.

  • IPv6 offers more efficient routing

    If because you have to isnt reason enough to move to IPv6, there are plenty of benefits that should make you want to. First of all, by reducing the size of routing tables, IPv6 makes routing more efficient and hierarchical. ISPs can aggregate the prefixes of their customers networks into a single prefix that they can announce to the IPv6 Internet. And, unlike an IPv4 network in which fragmentation is handled by the router, source devices handle fragmentation in an IPv6 network. Source devices are also responsible for discovering the paths maximum transmission unit. Photo: Stuart Chalmers

  • IPv6 processes packets more efficiently

    Because IP-level checksum is not included in IPv6, the new Internet Protocol can handle packets more efficiently and deliver better performance. IPv4 contains an IP-level checksum, so the checksum is calculated at every router hop. But with most link-layer technologies already containing checksum and error-control capabilities, and most transport layers having a checksum that enables error detection, its not needed in IPv6. Now the time routers previously spent checking packet integrity can be used to move data.Photo: JaredZammit

  • IPv6 provides directed data flows

    As an add-on to IPv4, multicast was primarily used to deliver multimedia on IPv4 networks. However, in IPv6, multicast entirely replaces broadcast. This makes multicast an integrated and necessary function of an IPv6 network. The benefit to this is that multicast saves network bandwidth by allowing bandwidth-intensive packet flows to be sent to multiple destinations simultaneously. Disinterested hosts no longer have to process broadcast packets. A new field has also been added to the IPv6 header. Flow Label can identify packets belonging to the same flow. Photo: SEO

  • IPv6 delivers integrated interoperability and mobility

    With IPv6, devices can stay connected to several networks simultaneously. This is possible due to interoperability and mobility capabilities that enable IT administrators to assign multiple IP addresses to the same device. As a result, end users dont have to choose a network to connect to; instead, the application chooses a network automatically. Photo: Tim Bishop

  • IPv6 simplifies network configuration

    Client-side IP address assignment is built into IPv6, thereby simplifying network configuration. Instead of assigning addresses to devices via a DHCP server as you would with IPv4, IP addresses can be automatically and dynamically assigned by the client device. Heres how it works: A router sends the prefix of the local link in its router advertisements. The client device generates its own IP address by appending its MAC address, converted into Extended Universal Identifier (EUI) 64-bit format, to the 64 bits of the local link prefix. While client-side IP address assignment eliminates the need for a DHCP server, IT admins can still assign addresses using DHCPv6. Photo: Ministerio TIC Colombia

  • IPv6 opens the door to new services

    Network address translation (NAT) is used on IPv4 networks to allow multiple devices to share the same IP address. Not only does IPv6 eliminate the need for NAT because of the abundance of IP addresses, IPv6 does not support NAT at all. However, the benefit of NATs demise is the restoration of end-to-end connectivity at the IP layer. This more streamlined communication enables new and valuable services while improving old ones. For example, peer-to-peer networks are easier to create and maintain, and Voice over IP (VoIP) and Quality of Service (QoS) are more robust.