Nibbles & Bits

The Path to IPv6 Part 2

by | December 9, 2021

IPv6 is already here, but it is unevenly distributed. Many of the Internet devices around us can be configured to support the IPv6 protocol suite, but we are often still using legacy IPv4 systems. As you probably already know, the IPv4 address space is exhausted, and all Internet technical standards bodies have endorsed IPv6. Because of the address space exhaustion, and other important reasons, it is critical that we transition to IPv6. But, it often seems easier to put things off to tomorrow, thinking that IPv4 is good enough for now.

In Part 1 of The Path to IPv6, we gave you a presentation template for pitching the importance of starting your IPv6 transition to management.

Here in Part 2 of The Path to IPv6, we collaborated with Ed Horley, Co-founder and CEO of Hexabuild, and Jeremy Duncan, Managing Partner and IPv6 Architect for Tachyon Dynamics, to bring you a selection of up-to-date resources to guide the transition.

Key takeaways for the IPv6 transition

It is important to recognize up front that, for organizations of all sizes, there are multiple stakeholders who must be involved, and you will need continual buy-in from everyone to keep up the momentum. Keep in mind there are multiple pressures from your internet or managed service provider (ISP or MSP), possible future charges to maintain IPv4 addresses and requirements from some Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings or Internet of Things (IoT) services to use IPv6.

The first step is to evaluate where you are. An IPv6 Assessment involves listing all products, software, and services being used in your IT environment and evaluating their level of IPv6 capability.  This list must include technical requirements for routing, and security, within your network. You will use this list to prioritize which part of your network to upgrade first.

As you procure new products or services, it’s important to know which are not only certified as IPv6 ready but will fill your actual needs. You could carefully read every spec sheet of every device or service, and then still be in the dark as to how well certain critical features are supported.  What if a manufacturer leaves out an optional part of IPv6 which you need?

The IPv6 transition will take time because there is no magic wand to switch at the snap of your fingers. You will find some parts of your network can convert to IPv6 quickly. But, it is unavoidable that for every such service, several others will take time to develop the solution which solves your needs. Therefore, you will end up running a dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 network as you convert your systems.

There is potential for a Y2K-like problem in that software may have been written to accidentally contain IPv4-isms. The most common is presuming that an internet address is a 32-bit integer represented as 4 octets, such as 192.168.1.1. IPv6 addresses are 128-bit integers, with several possible representations. The real cure is to not store IP addresses but to store domain names or service names. Using hard-coded IP addresses makes for brittle applications.

IPv6 transition resources

The following is a list of up-to-date recommendations that can help guide your IPv6 transition

  • The importance of moving forward with IPv6 transition: Are Small-and-Medium-Sized Businesses Ready for IPv6?
  • In practice, you will find this necessary: IPv6-Only Where You Can, Dual-Stack Where You Must
  • NIST has developed the USGv6 Standards Profile, to guide US Government agencies in adopting IPv6. Their work can also be useful in your organization. See USGv6 Revision 1. The University of New Hampshire maintains the USGv6 Revision 1 Tested Registry, listing USGv6 R1 compatible devices.
  • Learn about IPv6 readiness assessments with: IPv6 Buzz 085: Is Your Network Ready For IPv6?
  • You can hear from Doug Montgomery with NIST who helped develop the USGv6 Standards Profile on IPv6 Buzz 072: NIST And Testing IPv6
  • Software developer advice with Richard Campbell for IPv6: IPv6 Buzz 081: App Development And IPv6
  • IPv6 applications with Dan York: IPv6 Buzz 053: Applications And IPv6
  • Network address allocation for IPv6: IPv6 Buzz 082: All About Allocations
  • Using network management tools on an IPv6 network with Nick Buraglio and Chris Cummings: IPv6 Buzz 080: Working With IPv6 In The Management Plane

Bonus:

  • IPv6 in the United States’ federal government and Department of Defense with Jeremy Duncan: IPv6 Buzz 038: IPv6 In The Federal Government
  • Global IPv6 Adoption Strategy with Pete Sclafani: IPv6 Buzz 045: Fine-Tuning IPv6 Adoption Strategies For Service Providers And Enterprises

As always, we’re here to help! Please feel free to contact us at any time with any questions or feedback. We are going to revisit this list of resources on a regular basis, so keep the ideas coming. Feel free to reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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Premkumar Subramaniam
Head of R&D
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