Ushering in the IPv6 Era
Mahesh Gupta, National Manager, Borderless Networks Sales, Cisco India & SAARC
The last decade saw the Internet witnessing an explosive growth, emerging as a key communications medium for millions globally. However, the IPv4 address exhaustion would have an impact on the growth of the Internet, Internet service providers (ISP) and Internet presence (websites, e-commerce, email). Hence, the transition to IPv6 will become inevitable for the ecosystem at large.
On June 8th, 2011, the Internet Society, along with many large content providers launched the World IPv6 Day to test deployment of IPv6 protocol for products and services. Following its success, June 6 2012 marked the establishment of the World IPv6 Launch Day. Media reports stated that 6th June 2012 saw over 3000 websites migrating to IPv6 including biggies such as Facebook, Google, Mozilla; 65 network operators such as AT&T. Cisco, D-Link, Yahama etc. also updated their products to make them IPv6 enabled.
Shift from IPv4 to IPv6
Trends indicate that the next wave of Internet growth will come through the confluence of people, process, data, and things. Scaling the network to meet an ever-expanding agenda of more users, more devices, more traffic, more services, and more policies is becoming extremely critical. While IPv4 contained just over 4 billion unique IP addresses, IPv6, has about 3.4×1038 addresses (340 undecillion) unique IP addresses available. This will be more than enough to connect the billions of people, devices and even objects to interface directly with each other or through the internet
As organizations, individuals and nations gradually discover the power of the connected network, there is a pressing need to adopt IPv6 to support future business continuity, growth, and global expansion. IPv4 will continue to exist and the need to transition to IPv6 will be accentuated by the unavailability of any new domains based on IPv4. So while many enterprises have enough address space (public or private) to manage their intranet needs for the coming few years, the length of time needed to transition to IPv6 demands that CTOs and CIOs consider the issue well in advance. As early adopters of IPv6, organizations will also have a chance to ensure that customers derive maximum value from their business proposition and are able to do so, on multiple devices as well as maintain business continuity.
Market statistics reveal that the current adoption level of IPv6 is still at a very nascent stage – Google indicates that worldwide use has just reached 1% so there is a need for greater involvement from organizations. The shift to IPv6 not only helps control costs, it minimizes disruption to website services in the long run and eventually facilitates the growth of a global business. As organizations are inching towards mass adoption, it is critical to make an early move to IPv6, especially if they are:
This new normal will challenge banks' traditional ways of translating their business requirements into IT solutions. It will also dramatically reshape the role of IT and require a new governance model, skills, behaviors and ways of sourcing IT infrastructure. Irrespective of the model, cloud computing will help banks to break down existing silos, decouple physical from virtual IT and separate production from distribution - to boost business agility and customer responsiveness.
- Facing challenges when expanding/diversifying into new global regions because public IPv4 Internet addresses are no longer available
- Deploying innovative network environments, applications, and devices including sensors supporting smart connected communities as it quickly consumes the assigned IPv4 addresses
- Implementing IPv6-based 4G mobile networks or connecting workers on such networks
- Employed in the public sector, or are working with the government as a partner or supplier, where IPv6 is fast becoming the standard
Taking a phased approach
It is critical for organizations to adhere to best practices during transition to IPv6. This will help in assessing the success of the deployment-how well IPv6 integrates within the network and helps preserve existing investments. It is also important to ensure a smooth and incremental transition through IPv4 and IPv6 interoperability - which ultimately sets the stage for a more productive and global enterprise. An ideal framework will include:
- Business and Network Discovery-This is the first step where an organization identifies high-level business requirements for the migration, including timing, as well as external considerations such as regional address availability and government compliance
- Deployment Assessment-In the second step, the organization needs to lay out its technical requirements and determine how to best deploy the technology with goals of minimizing disruption, facilitating troubleshooting, and containing implementation costs
- Planning and Design-The third stage involves choosing the right deployment model -
- ✔ Dual-Stack Model-Desktops, the campus, hosts within the data centre, and any connectivity to the outside world are both IPv4 and IPv6 enabled in most cases
✔ Hybrid Model-Where all network assets cannot be IPv6 enabled, the hybrid model may be more appropriate
✔ Service Block Model-This model facilitates quick support of IPv6 where the campus network is not yet IPv6 enabled
- Developing a Detailed Design-This includes the IPv6 addressing plan; physical connectivity considerations, including WAN links and wireless LANs; creating and managing VLANs and their associated protocols; and the routing infrastructure to include provider connectivity, high availability, multicast (if required), quality of service, manageability, scalability, and performance.
- Implementation-The final stage of the planning process is to develop a plan for implementation and testing
IPv6 is here for 'Good'
Recently, the Department of Telecom (DOT) in India unveiled the 'National IPv6 Deployment Roadmap Version II' which mandates that starting January 1, 2014 all internet connections provided to business organisations should support new version of internet addresses based on IPv6. It also states that government organisations should prepare a detailed transition plan for complete migration to IPv6 by December 2017. The perception about IPv6 being 'all cost and no value' is expected to change. With the Indian government already taking concrete steps to become 'a smart knowledge society', organizations will soon realize the need to enable IPv6 on their networks to maintain critical connectivity with partners, customers, and employees.