IPV4 to IPV6 Address Transition

IPV4 to IPV6 Address Transition

April 06, 2011 2:00 pm

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Data center Operations Manager Jason Yaeger and network expert Jon Zeeff provide an overview of the transition and give businesses ideas for preparation to help Michigan businesses prepare for the IPv4 to IPv6 transition.

Wednesday 4.6.11 @ 4pm




Jason: Well good afternoon everyone. My name is Jason Yaeger. Today we will be presenting a webinar that highlights some actions and some information about the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 addressing. I would like to thank everyone for joining us today. On the agenda today, we have a few topics to cover. First off why IPv6?, the major differences between IPv4 and IPv6, deploying IPv6, and we have some information for you all about World IPv6 Day as well. Let's get started.

Everyone these days is used to IPv4. The change in the IP addressing scheme has a lot of people on pins and needles. Hopefully during this webinar, we can put your minds to rest on the topic at hand.

The main reason that we need IPv6 is that the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) has exhausted the rest of their IP addresses. In 1993, they actually predicted that IPv4 Exhaustion would take place between 2010-2017. That date was actually in February 2011. They issued the last of the IP addresses to the RIR (Regional Internet Registries) for deployment to the community. So, we are not completely out yet, but there are no more being delegated to the RIR's.

So why should you care? You may already have enough IPv4 addresses. You don't need IPv6 anytime in the near future, so why should you care about upgrading or needing to support this new version of IP addressing?

Well like it or not, it's coming. You may not need it, but new mobile devices that are coming out are going to use IPv6. So why should you wait and cause an emergency upgrade when your organization figures out that some of their potential or current clients require it? We mainly just want to stay ahead of the curve. Also, look at your company's image to the Internet community. There's a lot to be said about being up to date and staying ahead of the curve, so rather than doing an emergency upgrade in the near future, upgrade on a timely basis to stay ahead.

Some of the major differences between IPv4 and IPv6 are pretty straightforward. Deployment dates are different for instance. IPv4 was deployed in 1981, while IPv6 was deployed in 1999. The address size is different with IPv4 having a 32-bit number, while IPv6 has a 128-bit number. The biggest thing that will affect you is the notation of the IP address. The IPv4 address format is alot simpler with the 4 octets than the IPv6 address format, which has 16 octets. So the hexadecimal notation will be the most difficult portion to grasp when making the transition. With the increase of bits, you'll see the increase in the number of addresses. IPv4 has over 4 billion addresses, while IPv6 has over a trillion, trillion, trillion. This means that over 18 million IP addresses could be distributed to each man, woman, child on the planet. With that, I don't that we will ever have to upgrade past that, but you never know! Finally, there's the difference in the prefix notations for both as well. IPv6 incorporates a double colon (::), different from the IPv4 prefix. The double colon means there are all zeros behind it.

What are some of the key benefits of IPv6 over IPv4?

Some of the key benefits of IPv6 include the following:

  1. Auto Configuration - Auto Configuration is now built in and helps make IP addressing more managable. With IPv4, we relied on DHCP or manually configurating IP addresses.
  2. Direct Addressing - With Direct Addressing, the primary use of NAT (Network Area Translation) now becomes obsolete with IPv6. So, Direct Addressing is now possible thanks to the vast amount of IP addresses available. This in turn helps with End to End integrity, which is now achievable with IPv6. It wasn't achievable with IPv4 because you had an Internet routable address masking 1000s of addresses behind it.
  3. Mobility - Mobility is better integrated into IPv6 than it is with IPv4. It makes it easier for users to roam to different networks and keep their same IP address. With IPv4, there is restricted mobility that requires the use of VPNs for those tasks.
  4. Improved Integrated Security (IPSec) - IPSec is now integrated into IPv6, while with IPv4 it was more an add-on. Not only does IPv6 have the potential to relieve the IPv4 address space, it also allows and enables us to build stronger and more efficient networks, which in turn can result in increased opportunities for companies and organizations.

So deploying IPv6, what are my options?

There are two main options for deploying IPv6. One is a tunnel method, and the other is a native method. The tunnel method is less desired by some. It is a way to get into the IPv6 network, but it may not be the right choice for your business. It's similar to a site to site tunnel, where you would be tunneling to an IPv6 network from your IPv4 host. For example, Hurricane Electric (which is an ISP), will let you dial into their web services, put some script onto your machine that can connect you to an IPv6 network. The other option is the native method, which from a business standpoint seems to be the better option. There are two options with the native method. You can either run IPv6 only and build an entire seperate infrastructure for it, or you can do what is called a "Dual Stack" method. The "Dual Stack" method running both IPv4 and IPv6 all on the same infrastructure. We chose to focus more on the "Dual Stack" method because we think its the better option in the short term future than trying to build an entire IPv6 infrastructure.

What is the "Dual Stack" Method?

The "Dual Stack" Method is essentially a host or router that is equipped with both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols in the same Operating System. It is an Add-on, so your infrastructure needs to be able to address both IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time. With the "Dual Stack" Method, you can also send and receive data belonging to both protocols simultaneously, so they are routed independently from one another. In order to get them to span over one another, you would use NAT to do that as well.

So what's your involvement? What are the questions that you need to pose to get yourself ready to upgrade?

First off, your web, mail, and application servers must be able to be accessed by both IPv4 and IPv6 for the forseeable future. Here's a couple of questions you should ask right off the bat.

  • Do your devices support IPv6? (Most of the newer equipment suppports IPv6, but some specialized equipment may not.)
  • Does your DNS Provider support IPv6? - Do your applications support IPv6 or "Dual Stack"?
  • Does your ISP have a plan for IPv6 adoption to support your needs?

Also, you need to look at if any of your clients are mandating IPv6 readiness. The U.S. Government for example has mandated that as of July 2008 that IPv6 is needed.

So what is Online Tech doing to prepare for IPv6?

Online Tech will be testing and implementing throughout 2011. We have already obtained our IPv6 addresses, which are very easy to obtain. We are going to be going with a Native "Dual Stack" Method. The first availability to our clients will be January 1st, 2012. The demand for IPv6 is there, and it should slowly be put onto every organization roadmap by 2012. In addition, Online Tech will also be participating in World IPv6 Day.

What is World IPv6 Day?

World IPv6 Day is a basic testflight of IPv6 to promote awareness throughout the Internet community on the need to adopt IPv6. It will be on June 8th, 2011 and it will last the entire day. Big names such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! will be participating to help shed light on the fact that we need all need to become IPv6 Compliant. With that, Online Tech will be participating as well to help adopt this as well. If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit http://www.worldipv6day.org/

In summary, your general adoption needs will need to be the following:

  • Gathering IPv6 address space from your ISP.
  • Connectivity (Tunnel or Native). - OS, Software and Network Management Tool upgrades.
  • Router, Firewall, and other Hardware upgrades.
  • IT Staff and Customer Service Training will be needed too so that they are up to speed with all of the changes.

I wanna thank you for all for coming. I wanna leave the next 10-15 minutes for questions. For this part, I have Jon Zeeff with me to answer any technical questions you may have.

What does Auto Configuration in IPv6 mean?

Jon Zeeff: Auto Configuration is similar to how IPv4 has DHCP. In IPv6, DHCP is there but there's a network discovery protocol that does that for you similarly as DHCP did in IPv4

Can you use NAT between IPv4 and IPv6?

Jon: That's a good question. I think that people who will be running IPv6 only will have a type of Proxy or NAT that will allow them to access the IPv4 world. There will definitely be Gateways out there to make that happen due to the fact that IPv4 will still be around and used by the Internet community for the immediate future.

Natively, will IPv6 talk to IPv4?

Jon: Natively, without a NAT or a Proxy in place, no.

Will Watchguard Firebox support IPv6?

Jason: Yes it does. It may require a software upgrade, but the box should support it. The pricing however for IPv6 addresses is not provided and won't be for the next 6-9 months.

So do I have to apply for IPv6 addresses? Or will Online Tech provide them?

Jason: Online Tech will be providing IPv6 addresses for our customers.

When do you recommend most of your clients start making the upgrade to IPv6?

Jason: We're recommending that it start to enter the roadmap for companies in 2012. Now that the last of the IPv4 addresses were sent to the RIRs, its wise to get the information at hand for the 2012 budget to know what you need to do to be IPv6 Compliant. You may not have to do much, but having that knowledge is key.

Do you think that the upgrade to IPv6 will be like a mad rush and have a specific date in place, or do you think this will happen gradually?

Jon: I see it as much more of a gradual thing. More and more users will begin to use IPv6 and notice its performance advantages to using it natively than going through a gateway. So, I think it will be a gradual thing.

You said that IPSec was built into IPv6. Does that mean that its more than an address change? Or is it also a different protocol?

Jon: IPv6 is a different protocol. Lots of little things have changed. The goal and the function of it is still the same. If your asking about IPSec specifically yes, its a different flavor of IPSec that's writing on IPv6.

Will Online Tech support Reverse DNS for IPv6?

Jason: Yes.

With the "Dual Stack" method being implemented by Online Tech, what does that do to its customers?

Jason: First off, we will be implementing the "Dual Stack" method. That doesn't mean that we will be deleting your IPv4 addresses, but we will be offering clients the option of using either IPv4 or IPv6.

Jon: Going off of that, I'd encourage companies and organizations to start early and putting it into their roadmaps for 2012. Start using it now on a limited basis to get a feel for it before putting your entire company into it.

What specific questions should we be asking our ISPs about upgrading to IPv6?

Jon: I think all of the questions beforehand were good. Maybe ask how long they've been running IPv6.

Jason: Well we hope this was beneficial to everyone. Thanks for taking the time to be here and we hope you will all catch our upcoming webinars over the next few weeks.

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