For those in the telecoms industry IPv6 has been around for a significant amount of time but it has only made headlines last year as its predecessor, IPv4, started to run dry. The 8th June 2011 marked IPv6 day when multinationals such as Facebook and Google looked to run both IPv4 and IPv6 side by side in an attempt to speed up adoption. At the moment most PCs will communicate over IPv6 but adoption is let down by hardware manufacturers and Internet providers being slow to offer it to their customers.
We made a commitment to deliver both IPv4 and IPv6 to both all our customers as dual stack on any configured routers to ensure our customers can always see all parts of the Internet. We are also members of 6UK who promote the adoption of the new Internet Protocol in the UK.
There is however still a lot of confusion on what it actually means and so we have prepared a basic Q&A which will hopefully help answer some questions, and of course, our Account Managers will be happy to help.
How will it affect me?
IPv6 is something that will have to be brought into future network planning by every system and network administrator. While the short term affects will be minimal, as the uptake grows and more companies and website start providing native IPv6 services such as websites, then you will start to see parts of the Internet are unreachable.
What will happen to the Internet?
The transition is going to be a slow burning process so there will be effectively two Internet clouds running side by side for this period ‘the old IPv4 Internet’ and the ‘the new IPv6 Internet’.
Why is it happening?
Quite simply the IPv4 address space has effectively run out, with their last address spaces being handed out for deployment on the 1st Feb 2011. Think about it this way an IP address is like a telephone number and there are no more telephone numbers available to use. CIDR and especially NAT and PAT have been useful tools in extending the IPv4 address space lifespan in allowing the preservation of IPv4 addresses but it was going to come to an end at some point.
When is it happening?
IPv6 has already started to be deployed with many responsible ISPs like us handing out a IPv6/64 address space with all new orders and making our core network and core services fully IPv6 compliant.
Do I have to do anything on my LAN?
Effectively no, you can dual stack with both IPv6 and IPv4 on the egress point on your network, i.e. the point where your internal network connects to the Internet which will make your internal network able to access IPv6 Internet resources, which we are currently advocating. Many of the major operating systems from the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Linux have long shipped with IPv6 capabilities so it is entirely up to you whether you wish to plan for a future IPv6 addressing on your internal network.
Do I have to do anything on my email server?
If you wish your email server to function on the IPv6 new Internet then you will have to make that server to be able to send and receive IPv6 connections in some way or another, we have achieved this in our case by dual stacking IPv4 and IPv6 on that server. Also with making the email server IPv6 aware you have to make sure the server can be located by DNS by making sure appropriate IPv6 AAAA DNS record has been associated with MX records for your email domain.
Do I have to do anything on my website?
Again if you wish your Website to function on the new IPv6 Internet then you will have to be able to make your web server respond to anyone requesting your website from an IPv6 address and to make provisions for all your web servers to have provisions for your DNS entries to have appropriate AAAA records.
Does IPv6 do anything new, that I can use?
It has provision built into the standard for things like auto network configuration and as the address space is so large it effectively does away with NAT so you can achieve true end to end connectivity will all network communications. An aspect that is quite relevant from a business perspective is that IPSec is built into the IP layer for seamless secure encrypted communication. Obviously there will need to be some research into IPv6 to see if any of the advances are applicable to your own network.