ARIN’s Guide to IPv6 Preparedness
Every device directly connected to the Internet needs an IP address. There are two versions: IP version 4, better known as IPv4, and IP version 6, aka IPv6. IPv4, the current version, holds 4,294,967,296 addresses, and about 92 percent of them have already been distributed. IPv6, the newer version, holds 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses.
The issue is simple: IPv4 addresses are running out, and fast. The solution to the address depletion is IPv6. This seemingly endless number of addresses holds the future of the Internet, but it requires companies that use and distribute IP addresses to adapt their networks and systems to use IPv6.
The American Registry for Internet Numbers, or ARIN (News - Alert), is the non-profit corporation that manages the distribution of Internet number resources (IPv4 and IPv6 address space and autonomous system numbers) in Canada, many Caribbean and North Atlantic Islands, and the United States. ARIN participates in trade shows and conferences around the region to educate and inform people about issues facing the Internet community, the most critical of which is the rapid depletion of IPv4 address space.
Companies that use and distribute IP addresses must adapt their networks and systems to use IPv6. Nearly every enterprise organization relies on the Internet for some part of its core operations and services. To ensure these services can continue to communicate with everyone on the Internet, network infrastructure must be dual-stacked. Dual-stacking will ensure IPv4 and IPv6 users can see your Web site, use your Web-based services, and communicate with you via e-mail. These services may be managed through a vendor or internally. Either way, speak to your network operations support about IPv6 accessibility.
In addition to provisioning new customers using IPv6, there may be additional work to do to help make the transition to a dual-stack environment smoother. This may include establishing protocol translation and/or tunneling services for customers, ensuring software or hardware products that interact with IPv4 can also interact with IPv6, upgrading your capabilities to include IPv6 access to services for your customers, or simply promoting IPv6 awareness.
All organizations will need IPv6 address space to dual-stack their services. To connect to the IPv6 portions of the Internet, enterprises may require native connectivity from their service provider or through an organization that provides IPv6 tunneling services. It is important to take IPv6 support capability into consideration when making any new network equipment and/or software purchases. To upgrade your services to support both IPv4 and IPv6 you may need new equipment or firmware updates to your existing equipment, as well as training for those interacting with this equipment and firmware.
Specific adoption needs and considerations will vary, and requirements will be different for each organization, depending on their network setup and the services they have deployed. Basic preparation may include:
- replacing any outdated equipment and software with IPv6-ready devices and applications;
- encouraging hardware and application vendors to support IPv6, specifically including IPv6 support requirements in RFPs and contracts;
- sending IT staff to IPv6 training seminars and encouraging them to read forums like the ARIN IPv6 Wiki, or to get involved in organizations like the Internet Engineering Task Force or the North American Network Operators’ Group;
- talking to your ISP about getting IPv6 service or about tunneling IPv6 over IPv4; and
- designing your networks to allow for easy renumbering.
In order to draw attention to this issue and help community members engage with ARIN, we recently launched the new Team ARIN microsite, http://www.teamarin.net. This microsite provides updates on ARIN’s outreach and educational activities throughout the region. The Internet community can use the Team ARIN microsite to learn about ARIN’s whereabouts at trade shows and conferences, request documentation on IPv6, and find out how to help spread the word. The microsite also houses many educational materials available for public use to help educate and inform the community. Please visit http://teamarin.net/education/ to learn more. IT
Richard Jimmerson is CIO for ARIN (www.arin.net).