Details on IPv6 and the Netcetera Network
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IPv6 Network

Overview

What is IPv6?

For any network to function, each system must have a unique address in order for traffic to be properly directed. This requires a standardized protocol for creating the addresses and a system for tracking which addresses are already in use. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), in cooperation with the W3C and ISO/IEC standards bodies, is an open standards organization that develops and maintains the Internet Protocol (IP), which governs the addressing of systems connected to the Internet. IPv6, released in 2008, is the IETF’s latest version to be widely distributed, intended to replace IPv4, released in 1981. Transition to the new protocol is important because, due to the rapid growth of the Internet, nearly every IPv4 address has been assigned. IPv6 will eventually replace IPv4, with both coexisting over a multi-year transition period. Netcetera has completely integrated IPv6 address ordering and management into the customer portal and API.

Why is IPv6 better than IPv4?

IPv4 uses 32-bit numerical addresses, such as 10.123.456.789. There are only just over four billion, unique addresses that can be created in that format. Nearly all of those four billion addresses have been allocated or reserved for use, and as more users and devices connect to the Internet, more IP addresses need to be available.

IPv6 uses 128-bit numerical addresses, allowing for an exponentially larger number of unique addresses—approximately 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (practically inexhaustible). This allows greater flexibility in allocating addresses and routing traffic, and eliminates the need for network address translation, allowing for improved routing and network configurations.

Who gets the remaining IPv4 addresses?

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) divides the IPv4 address space between five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) who then assigns the addresses as they are requested. Their activities are governed by a global distribution policy that was created and is managed through the consensus of all five RIRs.

How quickly do we need to move to IPv6?

No one can be sure when all IPv4 addresses will be used up because there is no way to predict the rate of how quickly address request rates will be made. But at current rates, the supply of available IPv4 addresses will likely run out in 2011 or 2012.

Will the Internet break when the IPv4 addresses run out?

No. Both IPv4 and IPv6 will coexist over a multi-year transition period. However, IPv4 addresses and IPv6 addresses can’t communicate directly with each other, and eventually no new IPv4 addresses will beassigned. Service providers and network operators need to invest time, money, and training in their teams and infrastructure to make them IPv6-ready, and provide the transitional backward compatibility to IPv4. End users might not be able to reach certain sites or services if the site or service host and the end-user’s ISP are on different protocols and have not made appropriate provisions. Netcetera has already completely transitioned its infrastructure to IPv6, with IPv6 address ordering and management integrated into the Customer Portal and API.

How will the IPv4 to IPv6 transition affect end users?  

End users will not notice much impact, as they do not deal with IP addresses for most of their online activity. However, they might not be able to reach certain sites or services if the site or service host and the end-user’s ISP are using different protocols and have not made appropriate provisions.