IPv4 to IPv6 - Migration and Adoption Options for Businesses

The internet runs on IPv4 addresses. Websites and internet connected devices connect and identify each other with the help of IPv4. It's a simple yet powerful set of numbers as it helps in communication, entertainment, security and more. Since the early days of the internet, these four sets of numbers that range from 0 to 255 keep the internet together.

Because of the increasing number of devices connecting to the internet as well as websites being set-up on a daily basis, it's easy to surmise that IPv4 addresses could face some form of scarcity soon. Migration to IPv6 should be considered as early as possible.

The Pros of IPv6 over IPv4

If you ask IBM, IPv6 is the future with the simple reason that IPv4 addresses come with only 32 binary bits - a very limited number considering the increasing demand. IPv4 can only generate 4.2 billion addresses and that number is very limited considering how technology rapidly upgrades. On the other hand, IPv6 comes with 128-bits which means it could create 340 x 1036 addresses. If you want to future proof internet connectivity, IPv6 leads the way.

The advantage does not end there: simplified header format, encryption right out of the box, efficient routing and more could lead to better connectivity with increased security without the additional 3rd party tools. It's an ideal solution to ensure that the world of the internet continues to thrive.

The Challenge of IPv4 Migration

Although IPv6 migration is highly recommended, there are numerous factors that discourage network administrators from doing so. Among them is the hardware requirements for IPv6. While it's true that migration is all about the right set-up and not the hardware, there are legacy network devices that will have to be changed in favor of IPv6. Hardware changes means purchasing new equipment and businesses who already have a set-up in place are hesitant to spend more without immediate advantage.

Another reason not to migrate to IPv6 for now is the current use of NAT to address the challenges of IPv4. Businesses use NAT for their network connection while utilizing the customary IPv4 for local connectivity.

Migration and Adopting Options

Businesses and institutions that consider adoption of IPv6 have a good number of options for proper implementation. One of the most popular methods is the creation of a dual-stack network. In gist, this type of network is built to understand both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously. This is ideal for businesses who are already future proofing not only for online connectivity but within their network as well. Dual-stack could connect users within the network on IPv6 while using IPv4 for online connections since most websites use IPv4 protocol.

Another adoption option for IPv6 is with the use of IPv6 tunneling. One of the biggest concerns of adoption and transition to IPv6 is compatibility and tunneling provides that solution within the network. Its role is to "encapsulate" IPv6 connections so that it could become compatible with IPv4 connections. The beauty of this option is the fact that it can also go the other way (IPv4 connection to IPv6) which means it can be set-up to handle various types of connectivity at the same time.

Last but not the least, NAT-PT or NAT Protocol Translation - as the name suggests, this type of set-up literally translates IPv4 to IPv6 and vice versa. There are network hardware today that are built with this type of service. This is ideal for those looking to make some hardware upgrades in their network with the intention of future proofing their network technology.

These three options for adopting IPv6 have their unique advantages and disadvantages. It's important to take note of what they can do to any given set-up to ensure that the correct solution for adoption and eventual migration is selected.

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