Easing the transition to IPv6


SINGAPORE: The last batch of public IPv4 addresses — a system used to identify devices such as smartphones and Tablets on a network — was given out in February by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Although the IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) pool has been used up, there is still time to plan because many organisations haven’t completely exhausted the addresses allocated to them, said Brocade Communications Systems (Singapore), a network solutions provider.

“There is no reason to push the panic button yet but it’s time to start making a business case and analysis to decide which methods work,”said Adrian Low, its Asia-Pacific director for application delivery products, in Singapore recently.

Governments, service providers and telcos will be among the first to make the move to IPv6, which can provide an astronomical number of IP addresses — 3.4 undecillion (3.4 followed by 38 zeros), to be exact.

In contrast, IPv4 provided only 4.29 billion addresses.

IPv6, however, is not backward-compatible with IPv4, so devices using IPv4 cannot directly communicate with those using IPv6, and vice versa, according to Low.

This does not mean that organisations have to rebuild their entire network, he said, because it’s more cost effective to build on top of the existing infrastructure.

“Migrating from an IPv4-only network to an IPv6-only network is not an economically viable solution because many organisations still have IPv4 software and hardware that’s critical to their system operations,”Low explained.

“The transition to IPv6 must allow IPv4 devices to co-exist with IPv6,” he said.

IPv6 services can be added selectively as they are needed, and Brocade has cost-effective solutions to make such a migration seamless.

One such device is the ServerIron ADX gateway series, which sits within the network to handle IPv6 traffic.

It will allow IPv4 clients to communicate with IPv6 networks, as well as enable IPv6 clients to communicate with IPv4 networks, without requiring forklift upgrades to the existing infrastructure.

ICANN, formed in 1998, is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable.

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