IP Version 6, Who Really Needs It?

What’s all of the fuss about?

IP model 6 is getting a number of press as of late and probably for good cause. The Internet has, to all intents and functions, run out of public IP model Four addresses. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), who’s answerable for world deal with house allocation issued their final block of IP model Four addresses in early 2011. IANA allocates deal with house to the 5 regional Internet registries or RIRs who in flip are answerable for allocating these addresses to requestors, basically ISPs, of their area. To date, two of the 5 registries have run out of allocate-able IP model Four addresses. While two out of 5 sounds truthful odds, the 2 which have exhausted their IP inventory cowl the Americas and Europe, making the difficulty very critical certainly.

While the answer to this situation could appear easy sufficient – simply roll out the brand new IP model 6 (IPv6) throughout the Internet and all is nicely once more. Practically such a implementation isn’t that easy and would require a parallel IPv6 based mostly Internet to be operating till all IPv4 connections have been transformed. Given the huge scale of the Internet and the pace with which it’s rising, that is going to take a while.

So, whereas one can see this can be a critical situation for the registries and Internet Service Providers, how does it truly have an effect on the companies that connect with the Internet?

The reply to this query relies upon largely on what sort of enterprise one operates. There are literally good causes to think about IPv6 in its personal proper, apart from the IPv4 exhaustion situation, as vital enhancements have been made to IPv6 in the course of the design part. Some of those enhancements could also be of enterprise profit sooner or later.

To totally perceive the context of the query, nonetheless, one must delve right into a little bit of the element underpinning IPv6.

IP Version 6, new child on the block

IPv6 is actually the alternative protocol for the present IPv4 that drives the Internet, and just about each different community on the planet. The most publicised function of IPv6 is its massively elevated deal with house. This is probably its most essential function, as the primary cause behind designing a brand new model of IP was the approaching exhaustion of previous one. IP has been the de facto normal communication protocol of the Internet because the 1970s and the deal with house situation has been some extent of concern because the mid 1980s. The IETF launched quite a few interim measures to assist alleviate the difficulty, Network Address Translation (NAT) and Classless Inter Domain Routing (CIDR) being the 2 most pervasive, however ultimately, the 4.Three billion odd theoretical addresses within the IPv4 house was by no means going to be sufficient given the huge development of the Internet.

While 4.Three billion might sound like a big quantity, it’s price noting that not all of those addresses are usable, with solely about 3.7 billion being usable particular person addresses. Associate this with the truth that the Internet has been rising at a price of 100% each year since 1980, and has just lately elevated on this price, the quantity begins to look smaller. In a 2000 interview, Vint Cerf, founder and former chairman of the Internet Society and man extensively thought of to be the “inventor” of the Internet made the next prediction:

“Projections of Internet growth suggest that there will be 900 million servers among a total of 2.5 billion total devices on the Internet by 2006 – the latter number including about a billion and a half Internet-enabled mobile telephones. By 2010, half the world’s population may be able to access the Internet, if present rates of growth continue unabated. By that time, some estimates of connected devices of all kinds reach 35 billion (nearly 6 devices per person on the planet!). That this may not be completely insane is illustrated by the fact that in 2000, a person with a laptop, personal digital assistant and a cell phone may already have three devices on the Internet. When one starts adding household and office appliances (e.g., facsimile machines, printers, refrigerators, televisions and video cassette recorders), it is not hard to see how the numbers might add up. Of course, the averages will be skewed to much higher numbers in the most networked parts of the world (North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, parts of India and the Pacific Rim) and smaller numbers in the less networked parts”

While the prediction of 35 billion related gadgets might sound a bit aggressive, clearly Vint Cerf was not far off given the truth that we’ve got basically run out of IPv4 addresses a little bit greater than two years later than he predicted.

Some very giant numbers

Compared to the considerably paltry 4.Three billion (or 4,294,967,296 to be actual) addresses provided by IPv4, IPv6 goals to go fully off the chart and make sure the allocation drawback by no means exists once more. It’s troublesome to successfully symbolize the huge scale of addresses out there with the IPv6 addressing construction. IPv6 makes use of a 128 bit deal with size in comparison with the 32 bit size of IPv4 and this makes an enormous distinction. The 128 bit size signifies that there are 2128 IPv6 addresses out there. This produces a thoughts boggling 39 digit quantity that, when written out, appears like this:


In an try to summary this quantity to ensure that us people to contextualise it, this equates to an astronomical variety of addresses for every of the earths present 6.5 billion odd inhabitants. The quantity, once more, is troublesome to know and is available in at 29 digits lengthy.

Possibly a extra grasp-able illustration comes as follows. We can say that there are round 667 quadrillion addresses per sq. millimetre of the Earth’s floor.

Either means you take a look at it, one can see that the IPv6 design staff took their job very critically.

The giant deal with house of IPv6, whereas essentially the most outstanding of its options, isn’t the one one. The IETF was cautious to try to deal with the shortcomings of the previous IP model, and as such IPv6 consists of quite a few enhancements.

The potential demise of Network Address Translation

There is a basic mind-set shift that should happen when discussing IPv6. Today the popular, and probably solely, technique of connecting to the Internet is by way of a NATed connection. Network Address Translation or NATing is the method whereby an organisation can cover their inner addresses from the Internet by translating them to a sound public deal with on the level the place they join. This means they’ll select just about any vary to be used internally with out having to fret about the entire exhaustion situation in any respect. The NATing course of offers the general public to personal deal with conversion required and in addition serves to protect IPv4 addresses, which is why the IETF proposed it early on. It has now turn into so frequent place that seldom will one encounter a connection to the Internet utilizing another technique.

IPv6 however doesn’t natively require NAT. In truth its most popular technique of operation is with out NAT, permitting every inner gadget to be a publicly addressable Internet gadget in step with the founding precept of the Internet – seamless end-to-end communication. This idea might strike worry into the guts of any company safety supervisor, however by utilizing the inherent IPv6 safety features, will finally present a safer and versatile setting than the present NAT based mostly deployments. For customers and Internet Service Providers, the absence of NAT reduces the complexity of their networks and will increase their flexibility. The idea of regularly altering dynamic ISP allotted IP addresses and dynamic DNS will fall away with customers having the ability to have gadgets inner to their community straight accessible from the Internet. This many not make a lot sense for a person’s PC, however might be of serious use for an IP cellphone as an example.

The draw back to this flexibility is the safety facet. Firewalls will have to be configured to manage entry to every particular person gadget on the community because the catch all security internet of NAT will now not exist. Of course, that is assuming a purely IPv6 Internet which, by all accounts, many not exist for a few years but. In the quick to medium time period, NAT will nonetheless exist because it does at this time merely translating personal inner IPv4 addresses to exterior public IPv6 addresses.

DHCP additionally now not required

IPv4 requires the DHCP protocol to dynamically configure gadgets that connect with the community, issuing them with their IPv4 addresses and different helpful community data once they join. The provision of DHCP often requires further tools and wishes any individual to take care of it. The IPv6 RFCs, as a substitute, outline a way often known as stateless deal with auto-configuration whereby a number might be configured robotically when related to an IPv6 community by present community infrastructure akin to routers and switches.

When first related to a community, the IPv6 host sends a multicast request for its configuration parameters. A neighborhood router on the community will reply to the request with a packet containing all of the network-layer configuration parameters appropriate for the host. These parameters are checked for validity after which set on the host.

The elimination of the necessity for DHCP and its related infrastructure can each simplify a community and cut back its working prices.

Multicasting benefits

The IPv6 specification does away with the idea of broadcasting and defines multicasting, a extra directed type of broadcasting, as a part of the bottom specs. This is usually as a consequence of the truth that sub netting is now not used to phase networks into broadcast domains beneath IPv6 and a “broadcast” packet within the IPv6 world might conceivable be despatched to billions of hosts have been the idea allowed to exist.

Instead multicasts are outlined to ship the identical packets to a number of hosts on the identical time inside a given deal with house if required.

This function performs significantly nicely to the media wealthy content material that’s starting to flood the Internet, and networks typically. Today, multicasting is employed within the IPv4 world to extend the effectivity of level to multipoint site visitors flows akin to video broadcasts. This performance is now constructed into the protocol natively and may present for a lot less complicated multimedia deployments sooner or later.

Automatic personal addressing

The Automatic Private IP Addressing (APIPA) mechanism, as utilized by Microsoft Windows working techniques, permits a IPv4 machine that has no entry to a DHCP server or static IP deal with to robotically allocate itself an IP deal with within the 169.254.x.x vary thereby permitting it to speak with different native machines within the absence of handbook intervention.

The IPv6 specification features a comparable computerized IP deal with allocation system as a part of the bottom specification, thereby eradicating the reliance on the working system to carry out this operate. The gadget will self configure an IPv6 deal with utilizing the Neighbour Discovery course of outlined by the protocol. This permits any variety of native gadgets to self configure and talk with none handbook intervention.

IPv6 interfaces have these link-local addresses along with the worldwide addresses they might often be allotted. These link-local addresses are at all times current, nonetheless, can’t be routed outdoors the native community. For routing, the gadget will want its world IPv6 deal with as nicely.

Really massive frames

Under IPv4, community packet measurement is proscribed to 64 Kilobytes. IPv6 considerably lifts this restrict and helps packets often known as jumbograms. These jumbograms might be as much as 4 Gigabytes in measurement, nonetheless, to realistically make use of such a big packet measurement one would wish an exceedingly excessive efficiency community. The mixture of a excessive efficiency community and jumbograms can massively enhance the information throughput price of an IPv6 community over present IPv4 networks.

Built in safety

IPsec, the protocol for IP network-layer encryption and authentication has been included as an integral a part of the bottom protocol specification in IPv6. This is opposite to IPv4, the place it’s an non-compulsory add-on and sometimes solely applied if required. By together with this safety function as a part of the bottom specification, IPv6 basically offers the idea for each future IPv6 connection to be within the type of a peer to see safe tunnel whether or not speaking with a tool on the desk subsequent door, or a server internationally. This function is touted as the answer to the perceived lack of safety by the demise of NAT and to a sure extent formalises the behaviour presently adopted by internet site visitors safety via using the https protocol, throughout all varieties of communication, not simply internet site visitors.

Better Quality of Service

The IPv6 packet header features a Flow Label subject versus the Type of Service (ToS) subject of the IPv4 header. The IPv4 ToS subject permits purposes to outline a priority tag that community gadgets alongside its route use to prioritise the actual marked packet.

With IPv6, site visitors identification utilizing the Flow Label subject within the header permits routers to establish and supply particular dealing with for packets belonging to a selected movement between a supply and vacation spot station. Because the site visitors is recognized within the IPv6 header as a movement, assist for Quality of Service (QoS) is much more granular and is an inherent a part of the IPv6 protocol. This has the potential to kind the idea of a high quality of service conscious Internet, one thing at all times thought of nirvana within the IT world.

Mobility assist

IPv6 has a mobility structure outlined as a part of the protocol. This mobility, also referred to as MIPv6, goals to attain seamless cross community roaming for cell gadgets. The idea is just like that utilized in cell networks to find handsets based mostly on their IMSI quantity. With MIPv6, the idea is for a cell gadget to at all times retain the identical IPv6 deal with no matter the place it’s related. Practically, routing knowledge to an IP deal with that’s not a part of the routing subnet is unimaginable, so the MIPv6 specification defines a “care of” IP deal with that’s moreover allotted to the cell gadget because it roams from community to community. The cell gadget will alert its Home Agent (the gadget it’s receiving its service from, as an example a voice change) of the allotted Care of Address (CoA) and the Home Agent will then use this CoA because the site visitors vacation spot deal with till it receives an extra CoA replace.

In essence the system makes use of a major IPv6 deal with to establish a tool uniquely anyplace on the planet after which makes use of a transient “Care of” IP deal with to truly route site visitors to the gadget. This will enable a cell knowledge service to function in a lot the identical seamless method that we’re accustomed to with mobile voice roaming at this time.

Easy on the routers

The IPv6 specification can also be designed with effectivity in thoughts and as such makes an attempt to cut back the processing load on intermediate routers.

IPv4 has a checksum subject that covers the complete packet header. This checksum needs to be re-calculated each time a subject contained in the packet adjustments. Since sure fields (such because the TTL subject) change with each hop, the checksum should be re-calculated by each router alongside the packets path. For excessive site visitors paths, this will place vital load on these routers.

IPv6, in distinction, has no error checking on the community layer, however as a substitute depends on the hyperlink layer and transport protocols to carry out error checking.

Additionally, intermediate IPv6 gadgets (routers) don’t deal with packet fragmentation both, as that is the duty of the tip factors. The router processing load might be considerably diminished by this function alone.

Fixed header measurement

Further including to the effectivity, the IPv6 header can also be mounted in size and less complicated in construction than the IPv4 header. The IPv4 header has a variable size Options subject that may broaden to a most of 20 bytes, making for a variable total header measurement. The IPv6 header, however, is at all times 40 bytes in size. Thus, at finest the IPv4 header is half the dimensions of the IPv6 header and at worst they might be the identical measurement. Either means, the mounted and predictable header measurement of IPv6 is less complicated to handle and course of than the consistently various one in every of IPv4

Into the true world

The final influence of operating out of IPv4 addresses is that native ISPs will now not have the ability to situation clients with publicly accessible IP addresses and thus can now not tackle new clients or broaden present ones.

IANA and the native registries are already in a position to allocate IPv6 addresses to ISPs at this time, nonetheless, with out the native IPv6 spine routing applied sciences being in place globally, they’re of restricted use and can have to be translated into IPv4 addresses someplace within the ISP community. That mentioned, demand is a robust driver and as soon as the tipping level of put in IPv6 know-how is reached, all ISPs might be compelled to connect with the Internet via IPv6 and thus provide their clients native, un-translated IPv6 deal with areas.

Corporate Impact

Will ISPs offer tens of millions of addresses to their clients from day one? It’s principally unlikely, as the best deployment situation for an ISP is to alter the general public NAT deal with on the shoppers Internet entry router to an IPv6 deal with and depart all the pieces else as is. It will then be as much as the ISP to transform this IPv6 site visitors into the IPv4 site visitors presently understood by the Internet.

Furthermore, it’s extremely unlikely {that a} company at this time would enable inner gadgets to be publicly accessible on the Internet. Thus, from an Internet connectivity standpoint, all of the corporates have to do at this level is pay attention to their ISPs IPv6 technique to make sure they aren’t left within the chilly when the techniques change. It will nonetheless be attainable to connect with each IPv4 and newer IPv6 based mostly Internet providers for a very long time. The designers foresaw this potential and outlined quite a few intermediate cross communication strategies designed to clean the transition.

Large organisations which have their very own Provider Independent (PI) IPv4 deal with block allocations ought to request the same PI IPv6 deal with block from their native registry as this may enable them to handle their public deal with house themselves instead of counting on ISP’s for this service.

Are we there but?

At some level, nonetheless, IPv6 will turn into the de facto normal for inner and exterior networks. Most working techniques and community tools already assist IPv6. Eventually it is going to be worthwhile for the company to begin switching to IPv6 internally, to not enable every gadget within the community direct entry to the Internet or to realize entry to billions of addresses, however reasonably to utilize the extra options and advantages IPv6 presents.

It could be worthwhile for a company CIO so as to add IPv6 investigation or adoption to the know-how roadmap for the following Three to five years. Mainstream distributors will fairly probably begin growing purposes and techniques that require IPv6 to operate accurately sooner or later and, with bandwidth changing into extra freely out there, the efficiency enhancements of IPv6 might make enterprise sense.

Today the items of the puzzle are all current. Most mainstream working techniques already assist IPv6 natively. Applications akin to databases, internet servers, ftp servers and CRM purposes are additionally changing into IPv6 conscious. Network tools has been IPv6 enabled for a while and the most important distributors have applied most, if not all, of the options outlined within the IPv6 RFCs. The solely lacking hyperlink presently is the native connectivity from the Internet spine by way of native ISPs, and when this comes, IPv6 adoption might be anticipated to rocket.

Most possible candidates

Given the truth that the demand for IPv6 isn’t prone to come from the established world company market, the place then is it anticipated to come back from? Demand is anticipated to come back from a quantity or areas, however primarily, it will come from the cell suppliers. Virtually each cell phone at this time has an information connection and thus requires an IP deal with to entry data on the Internet. This presently forces cell operators to behave as ISPs and supply NATing for tens of millions of gadgets on their community at vital value and complexity. The cell operators would ideally like to have the ability to allocate every cell gadget its personal publicly accessible IPv6 deal with after which cast off NAT altogether.

Additionally, a big drive for IPv6 adoption is coming from Asia. These markets have been late to affix the Internet revolution and as such acquired restricted regional IPv4 allocations. This truth, along with the huge inhabitants base of nations akin to China and India, has pushed Asian governments to strongly incentivise the adoption of IPv6. The Beijing Olympics in August of 2008 was operated fully on an IPv6 spine with even the official web site been provided by way of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

Consumer providers would possible be subsequent in line on the demand curve with DSL kind customers demanding their very own blocks of IPv6 addresses permitting them to take away NAT and its related restrictions from their house networks.

A closing drive is seen to be coming from the brand new buzz-phrase coined “The Internet of Things”. Also often known as Machine to Machine (M2M) communication, the idea talks to the growing variety of “things” which might be being embedded with sensors and gaining connectivity. Fundamentally, the “things” will want to have the ability to talk straight with different “things” round them and for this to occur they are going to all want publicly accessible IP addresses. This would appear to be an ideal situation the place quite a few the IPv6 options could possibly be put to make use of.


The indisputable fact that IPv6 is coming is undisputed. IPv4 addresses have run out and IPv6 will remedy the issue. However, the difficulty for the quick to medium time period is another for the Internet and ISPs to cope with, than the company world. We can count on a twin IPv4 and IPv6 Internet to be working for fairly a while, as was the preliminary intention of IPv6. It is the duty of the Internet, via the governing our bodies akin to IANA and the native registries, to drive the deployment of IPv6 applied sciences and the adoption of IPv6 addressing within the spine. However, with governments beginning to financially incentivise organisations to undertake IPv6 and with the huge development in related gadgets, we might quickly see adoption start to speed up.

For the common related company, connectivity to the Internet isn’t a serious cause to think about IPv6 as this would be the drawback of their native ISP. The curiosity in IPv6 ought to extra be pushed based mostly on the enterprise and know-how benefits that may be achieved by deploying IPv6 internally. In the quick time period it is going to be troublesome to justify IPv6 when deployed as islands, nonetheless, as extra purposes and connections turn into IPv6 conscious the enterprise case will achieve power.

At the tip of the day, it’s actually a case of when not if. The situation is that the “when” could also be as quickly as just a few years time or as distant as ten.

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