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The beginning of the end

IPv6 flip clockToday is 6/6/2012, World IPv6 Launch Day. The day the Internet community permanently enables the IPv6 Internet protocol on their infrastructure. Some refer to this protocol as 'The New Internet Protocol'. But is it new? No. Not at all.

To deal with the anticipated IPv4 address exhaustion, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) developed IPv6 and described it in Internet standard document RFC 2460. This was published in December 1998. Due to the incompatibilty with the current IPv4 protocol, it was never widely adopted. Now that address exhaustion is imminent, the world is in a hurry to set things straight.

I am the proud owner of what is arguably the coolest IPv6 Internet domain name in the world: ipv6.net. I have owned it for a long time. Not too long ago I realized that 6 days after 6/6/2012, it has been exactly 15 years since the domain name was registered. Apparently, back in 1997, I envisioned that IPv6 was going to be big. I just didn't know it would take such a long time. But are we there yet? No. Not even close.

Back then the community thought we would run out of IP addresses in just a couple of years. With some tricks we managed to stretch things out until now. We even back-ported some cool stuff from the new protocol into the old. It wasn't until mid 2011 that we saw some serious global industry initiatives to promote adoption of IPv6: World IPv6 Day on June 8th. On that day some of the smaller as well as larger members of the global Internet community temporarily enabled IPv6 on their infrastructure. For some, just to see what would happen. For others a good test of their transition plan or chosen technology. Some 'forgot' to switch it off again. For most it was a big success; a final rehearsal for the big step: a global transition from IPv4 towards IPv6.

Today is the start of that transition. Content providers around the globe will provide access to their services over IPv6. Access providers will provide IPv6 access to their end-users. Hard- and software manufacturers will bring out IPv6 support for their products. This broad involvement will certainly help to solve the chicken and egg, content versus access, problem.

So what will happen after today? If all goes well, and I certainly expect so, we will have marked the beginning of the end of IPv4. It will take many years before IPv6 has become the dominant protocol and IPv4 is marked 'legacy'. But I expect that after today more and more companies will make a start with their transition. For many it will be hard to make a good business case for it as there is not always a clear added business value. Just don't wait too long as the landscape is rapidly changing.

Some advice for those about to take the plunge: take ample time to gather knowledge, create awareness among those involved, decide on a sound transition scenario, test and start planning.

And for me? Well, as an IT professional I will be helping out customers doing just that. Personally, I will continue to blog and tweet about IPv6 for a long time to come...




The Future Is Forever


6 JUNE 2012

Major Internet service providers (ISPs), home networking equipment manufacturers, and web companies around the world are coming together to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services by 6 June 2012.


Organized by the Internet Society, and building on the successful one-day World IPv6 Day event held on 8 June 2011, World IPv6 Launch represents a major milestone in the global deployment of IPv6. As the successor to the current Internet Protocol, IPv4, IPv6 is critical to the Internet's continued growth as a platform for innovation and economic development.


Do your part. Join the launch!

What is IPv6?

IP version 6 (IPv6, see RFC2460) is a new version of the Internet Protocol, designed as the successor to IP version 4 (IPv4) [RFC-791]. The new Internet protocol was designed in the 1990's and, rather than using the 32-bit addressing system, it uses a 128-bit system. That gives us 2128 or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IP addresses and is enough for the Internet to continue to grow. Because of the rapid IPv4 address exhaustion it is imperative that the world starts using the new protocol version now. The old and new protocols are not directly compatible; an IPv4 device is not able to communicate with an IPv6 device. Therefore a number of steps have to be taken before world wide deployment can be realized. Technology has to be updated, personnel has to be trained and above all: awareness has to be created.


What happened to IPv5?

Many people not familiar with the matter often ask this, what seems a very logical, question.  The protocols that operate at the Network Layer of the OSI model of computer networking, like IPv4, IPv6, ICMP, ICMPv6, IGMP, IPSec etc., have been assigned protocol numbers. Protocol number 5 could not be used as the successor to number 4 because the Experimental Streaming Protocol Version 2 (ST2, see RFC1819) had already been assigned to it.


How is IPv6 different?

The changes from IPv4 to IPv6 fall primarily into the following categories:

Expanded Addressing Capabilities

IPv6 increases the IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits, to support more levels of addressing hierarchy, a much greater number of addressable nodes, and simpler auto-configuration of addresses. The scalability of multicast routing is improved by adding a "scope" field to multicast addresses. And a new type of address called an "anycast address" is defined, used to send a packet to any one of a group of nodes.


Header Format Simplification

Some IPv4 header fields have been dropped or made optional, to reduce the common-case processing cost of packet handling and to limit the bandwidth cost of the IPv6 header.

Improved Support for Extensions and Options

Changes in the way IP header options are encoded allows for more efficient forwarding, less stringent limits on the length of options, and greater flexibility for introducing new options in the future.

Flow Labeling Capability

A new capability is added to enable the labeling of packets belonging to particular traffic "flows" for which the sender requests special handling, such as non-default quality of service or "real-time" service.


Authentication and Privacy Capabilities

Extensions to support authentication, data integrity, and (optional) data confidentiality are specified for IPv6.



Where to go next

That is all mighty interesting and I would like to get IPv6 ready ASAP. Where do I go from here?



The best thing to do now is to start learning more about the matter. A good way to do that is to get yourself a good book and start reading. A large selection of IPv6 books can be found in our Amazon online US shop and UK shop.

If you already have some knowledge but like to learn more about topics as, implementation, migration, integration, optimization and other 'ations', have a look at our excellent selection of slideshare presentations and videos made by industry professionals.

Maybe you are already busy upgrading your network to the next generation but are running into some problems. Or maybe you are facing new challenges or like to share your findings with others. Visit our IPv6 community forum and start sharing.

Network and other IT professionals can keep their knowledge up to date with our hot IPv6 news feed. If you are interested in attending summits or other industry events and meetings, keep an eye on our list of upcoming events.


More resources

We will be adding more information, documents, tools and other resources as time progresses. So make sure to check back soon!



If you can't find what you need or you would like to make a comment or request, don't hesitate to contact us.



Improved transit connectivity

We finally finished migrating our IPv4 connectivity to our high quality transit provider Atom86 (AS8455). We already got our IPv6 connectivity from them but the migration of IPv4 was still on the todo list. At the moment Atom86 kindly provides us 100Mbit/s IPv4 and 100Mbit/s IPv6 low-latency transit connectivity for which we are very grateful. The migration itself involved a change of IP addresses which resulted in a change of DNS records, including a glue record, firewall access-lists etc. This all went pretty smoothly although we suspect that some people may have experienced timeouts on the website while the DNS changes propagated across the world.

Thanks to the engineers at Atom86 and Schuberg Philis for making this possible!


Video presentations page added

We have added a new page with a collection of interesting IPv6 related video presentations. Conferences, lab work shops and interviews with prominent persons, it's all there.. If you know of any other good videos, please let us know. Enjoy watching!

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