In previous blog posts, we have described what IPv6 is, the benefits it offers, as well as the reasons why businesses need to adopt it. In this post, I will describe how your company can prepare itself for the implementation of IPv6. Many companies may now be aware of IPv6, but are unsure of how to make the transition. Basically, there are two options for your company to consider; deployment of a fully enabled IPv6 only network or run IPv6 alongside IPv4.
However, not many companies are running with an IPv6 only network since IPv4 still has a strong presence. Also, several devices and applications may never be able to transition to IPv6, so running both protocols may be unavoidable. There are three ways in which IPv4 and IPv6 can run alongside each other; tunneling, translation and dual-stack.
Tunneling encapsulates IPv6 packets within IPv4, in effect using IPv4 as a link layer for IPv6. However, tunneling does not enable users of the new protocol to communicate with users of the old protocol without dual-stack hosts, which negates interoperability. Translation facilitates communication between IPv6-only and IPv4-only hosts and networks by performing IP header and address translation between the two address families. Although, it is important to note that translation is only meant to be a medium-term coexisting strategy, not a long-term permanent solution.
A majority of providers and vendors have chosen to take the dual-stack route. Dual-stack is a transition technology in which IPv4 and IPv6 operate in tandem over shared or dedicated links. In this type of network, both IPv4 and IPv6 are fully deployed across the infrastructure, so that configuration and routing protocols handle both IPv4 and IPv6 addressing and adjacencies.
Since IPv4 has such a strong presence, and so many users are currently utilizing IPv4, adopting dual-stack technology will allow users to access IPv4 and IPv6 enabled sites. Just because IPv4 has been exhausted, that doesn’t mean that it will disappear entirely. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 will be gradual, but users need to be able to access both in order to experience full connectivity.
By fully deploying both IPv4 and IPv6 through dual-stack, users will have a seemingly full range of access to both IPv4 and IPv6 enables sites, applications, and devices. Once all regions across the globe have run out of IPv4 addresses, there will be no choice but to distribute IPv6 addresses. As more and more IPv6 addresses are distributed to users around the world, the migration to this new protocol will build up steam.
The first step in preparing for this worldwide change is to decide which type of communication technology your company will utilize. Whether it’s translation, tunneling, or dual-stack, a choice must be made soon in order to ensure that your business is able to seamlessly connect online.
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Author: Vanessa Hartung