May 9, 2008

IPv6 and Enterprise Architecture

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is a network layer for packet-switched internetworks. It is designated as the successor of IPv4, the current version of the Internet Protocol, for general use on the Internet. The main change brought by IPv6 is a much larger address space that allows greater flexibility in assigning addresses. The extended address length eliminates the need to use network address translation to avoid address exhaustion, and also simplifies aspects of address assignment and renumbering when changing providers. (Wikipedia)

IPv6 is an important architecture change.

Government Executive Magazine, May 2008, reports that “Ipv6 upgrades are critical as space available for Internet addresses dwindles.”

Why are we running out of IP addresses on version 4?

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices with individual addresses on the Internet. With the world’s population estimated to be 6.5 billion—and with many people possessing multiple electronic devices such as PCs, cell phones, and iPods—there simply wil not be enough IPv4 addresses to meet the demand, let alone support the anticipated influx of new Internet users from developing countries. Also on the horizon are newfangled IP-enabled devices and appliances that will drive up the number of IP addresses per person.”

How does IPv6 solve this problem?

“IPv6 used 128-bit addresses and can support a virtually limitless number of globally addressable devices (The actual number is 2 to the 128th power).”

How is the conversion going?

The office of Management and Budget (OMB) has mandated that “By June 30, all federal agencies must prove that they have upgraded their networks’ connections, or backbones, to be capable of carrying IPv6 data traffic.”

Note: “All leading routers can support IPv6.”

A senior vice president for Quest said that “Every North American business and government needs to make the conversion.”

What other benefits does IPv6 offer?

Other benefits include:“built in security, network management enhancements such as auto-configuration and improved support for mobile networks. But in the decade since IPv6 was created, many of the extra features have been added to IPv4. So, the real motivator…is that it offers unlimited IP address space.”

The most savings, however, will come from the new applications and services that IPv6 will provide.”

The Department of Defense “needs IPv6 to make its vision of netcentric warfare (the ability to tie together networks and sensors to deliver a stream of integrated real-time data to the battlefield and commanders) a reality…with IPv6, ‘everything can be addressable from a soldier to a sensor to an aircraft to a tank…we could have a sensor network with hundreds of thousands of nodes.”

IPv6 is important, but what other network initiatives underway is it competing with?

  • The Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative—aims to “reduce the number of external connectivity points that workers use to gain access to the internet.”
  • Networx—“a telecommunications contract that agencies are supposed to use to select a new carrier by September.”

On the Federal side, what needs to be architected next for IPv6?

“Federal IT managers should begin reserving IPv6 address space, developing an addressing plan, and creating a migration strategy that includes extensive product testing and evaluation. So far 37 agencies have requested IPv6 adress space from the American Registry for Internet Numbers.”


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