NFWARE BLOG

Should you plan your migration to IPv6?

6/11/2018
When IPv4 was created, the developers had no idea how many devices would be connected to the network. Therefore, the number of required addresses were calculated based on the number of inhabitants of the planet. After the results of the experiment showed how many addresses the world really needs, the developers planned to launch a "full-fledged" version of the protocol. But IPv4 began to be used everywhere. Therefore, many companies intend to switch to a new version of the protocol. IPv6 is a fundamentally new solution with additional features that are intended to replace the ending IPv4.

Another reason for the transition to IPv6 is its increased performance. The new protocol is faster than IPv4 in Europe, Africa, and Oceania. When everyone starts using IPv6, protocol performance will improve significantly, and it will bypass IPv4 in connection speed and reliability.

IPv6 technology offers a more robust set of features and significantly increases the pool of global IP addresses compared to IPv4. At the same time, it allows you to simplify not only network administration, but also solve problems related to security and mobility. It also improves the quality of service QoS. At present, the issue of transition to the IPv6 protocol is quite pressing, since every year both the number of people accessing the Internet and the number of devices that these people use increases.

Today, most Internet resources exist only in IPv4-space, and therefore it is necessary to support both protocols and use address translation between them. The new and old versions of the IP protocol are incompatible with each other. However, as reported by the Internet Society State of IPv6 Deployment 2018 report, Facebook is in the process of turning IPv4 off within their data centers. Companies like LinkedIn and Microsoft also like this idea and are probably going to do this soon as well.

Three reasons to move to IPv6:

1. Inevitability
The truth is that IPv6 will soon become the only option to connect new devices and hosts to the Internet. Small and medium enterprises should switch to IPv6 in order to be ready for the inevitable coming of the day when IPv4 will simply not be supported anymore. Early adoption of IPv6 will allow enterprises to throw off the burden of fear that the disappearance of IPv4 will affect their business negatively.

2. Efficiency
IPv6 simplifies and speeds up data transfer due to more efficient packet processing. As a result, the valuable working time of the router is released to perform its immediate tasks.

3. Security
IPv4 was not originally thought of as a secure protocol. IPv6, by contrast, was designed from the very beginning in terms of protection. IPv6 encrypts traffic and checks packet integrity, implementing VPN-like protection for standard Internet traffic.

What slows the transition to IPv6?

To escape the crisis, Internet providers will need decisive action and incur billions in costs. The IPv6 protocol is a possible solution for this crisis. It would seem that there is nothing easier - turn it on and go. But in practice, this transition requires not only an adjustment, but also the replacement of expensive equipment. Switching to a new protocol introduces problems that require replacing the equipment (routers) for all clients and replacing all access equipment and some of the oldest aggregation devices. But nobody wants to replace the equipment because the volume of investments will be very large in this case.

For an IPv6 project to work, operators either need a push or a large investment. This is a serious amount of money, and no one will dare lay it out voluntarily, unless a forced shutdown of the IPv4 protocol occurs. No one in their right mind will forcibly stimulate the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. All current content on the Internet is available primarily via IPv4. It must be understood that IPv6 is not a replacement for IPv4. IPv6 gives us an opportunity to continue developing at the same pace in an environment where the number of IPv4 addresses is decreasing dramatically. Providers are gradually starting to use IPv6, but this does not mean that operators provide clients with access only via IPv6. Both protocols work. If your router supports the new protocol and the operator also supports IPv6, then the traffic will follow the new protocol. If not, traffic is routed via IPv4.

In order to prepare an infrastructure for IPv6, providers must register the corresponding addresses with the routers. However, it is unclear what to do with client equipment and switches. There is also a question as to whether subscribers need IPv6. There is no point in IPv6 today, at least for now.

There is no normal support for the new protocol in a lot of the client equipment or in the server. Customers are not ready to pay for IPv6 as a service, and the transfer of old equipment will cost an astronomical amount. So, providers continue to use NAT, and there is no doubt that they will continue doing so in coming years. Despite all of the technical difficulties, the transition to a new version of the protocol is inevitable. There is a gradual adoption of the new protocol. However, the question of when the global transition to IPv6 will occur remains open.

According to the Internet Society State of IPv6 Deployment 2018 report, many broadband ISPs deploy IPv6 in spite of its problems. For example, Comcast IPv6 deployment is at approximately 66%. British Sky Broadcasting IPv6 deployment is above 86%, Deutsche Telekom has 56%, XS4ALL has 71%, VOO has 73% and Telenet has 63%.

In terms of mobile wireless, Reliance Jio and Verizon Wireless report that about 90% of its traffic uses IPv6. The percent of smartphones in the US on the major cellular network operators (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) that use IPv6 has increased from 40% to 80% within the past three years. Furthermore, T-Mobile is going to turn IPv4 off and use only IPv6 within their mobile network. Other major wireless providers are intending to do the same thing as T-Mobile.

In conclusion, we can say that after the transition to IPv6, supporters of IPv4 will not go away, but with time IPv6 will become the main protocol, transforming the entire Internet. Just as has been done with IPv4, software and hardware will be created to support and improve it. The biggest remaining hurdle is for everyone to get together and update hardware and software that is incompatible with IPv6. But this will require huge investments. Therefore, for many years, commercial organizations of all levels have had an overwhelming desire to postpone it, which is what everyone has done.
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