IPv4 to IPv6: Challenges and Priority of IPv6 Implementation Tyler Spellen
University of Maryland University College
Regarding the Internet Layer protocol , IPv4 is currently the most widely deployed solution, being used by corporations and individual consumers around the world. While it has been identified that there are no more IPv4addresses available for allocation from the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) to the five RIRs (Regional Internet Registries), many companies have still kept their IPv4 network infrastructure, deciding not to make the switch yet. So the question is, when does it make sense for a company to switch their network infrastructure from IPv4-only to IPv6 compatible, and what is the best way to execute this? Based upon in-depth research of this question using varied sources and case studies, a recommendation of implementation with tentative timeline for a given corporation will be made. Clear definitions and history of IPv4 and IPv6 will be provided. The purpose of this research paper is not to explain the IPv4 and IPv6 specifications in grave detail, but to give enough overview so that pressing issues associated with IPv6 deployment are understood. Gained efficiencies, security concerns, and competitive advantages associated with IPv6 implementation will be discussed. Answering this research question will give the reader additional insight into the challenges and priority of IPv6 implementation, helping to understand the significance, potential issues, and urgency concerning IPv6 deployment for corporations and individuals alike.
For decades, the topic of IPv4 address exhaustion has been of concern to the IT community. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is at the forefront of this topic, as they are responsible for the global IP address space management. On February 3, 2011, the NRO (Number Resource Organization) released an article, stating that the last two top level (/8) blocks of free IPv4 addresses were assigned, depleting top level address space, and that major organizations need to switch to at least become IPv6 compatible. The article says, “This has been a historic day in the history of the Internet….The future of the Internet is in IPv6. All Internet stakeholders must now take definitive action to deploy IPv6.” (NRO, 2011). Over one year later, the vast majority of US and international corporations still haven’t changed their infrastructure to IPv6. However, awareness is rising, even though corporations do not seem to be feeling the effects at this time. While there are gains to be realized from switching from IPv4 only to IPv6 compatible, it is important that proper integration takes place so as to not jeopardize business continuity and security. Understanding what IPv4 and IPv6 mean, as well as understanding the history to their emergence further helps understand the future of IP technology, as well as priority for making the switch happen for an individual or corporation. Definition and Brief Explanation/History of IP Protocols
The IPv4 and IPv6 Internet Protocols have been in existence for decades, and in particular, the acknowledgement of limited IPv4 addresses has been identified for decades as well. Stallings (2009) defines the Internet Protocol (IP) as “A standardized protocol that executes in hosts and routers to interconnect a number of independent networks”. IPv4 is the fourth version of the IP, and was widely deployed around the world. IPv6 is the sixth version of the Internet Protocol. IPv4 was first developed in 1981 (Postel, 1981) and IPv6 was developed in 1998, adding several design enhancements to IPv4, the major change being the use of 128-bit IP addresses (Deering, S., Hinden, R, 1998). With approximately 4.8 x 1028 addresses for each of the seven billion people alive in 2011, it hard to imagine the exhaustion of these addresses in IPv6 protocol (Census, 2012). There are also 264 address spaces...
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