Why bother moving to IPv6?

Yes, you can get by without it, but probably not for long

Adopting the new IPv6 protocols will be a challenge, and there are ways to work around the shortage of IPv4 addresses, such as Network Address Translation, or NAT. So why bother to make the move?

Because any workarounds eventually will get in the way of new services and devices, and the rest of the world will pass by those who do not adapt.

“It returns us to the original design of the Internet — any device to address any other device,” said Bill Crowell, former deputy director of the National Security Agency and now a member of BlueCat Networks’ technical advisory board for the federal market.


Related story:

5 critical steps on the road to IPv6


NAT has extended the life of IPv4 and can add some security by shielding the network from prying eyes on the outside, but it also can interfere with functionality.

The isolation imposed on islands of IPv4-only functionality will grow as more services and devices are enabled with the new protocols.

“We are running out of routable IPv4 address space,” said Cricket Liu, vice president of architecture at Infoblox.

“More and more things are being connectivity-enabled” and will need new IP addresses, said former CIA Chief Technology Officer Bob Flores, another member of the BlueCat advisory board. Some will specifically use the functionality of IPv6, and others will use the new protocol simply because large blocks of address space will not be available under IPv4. Carriers that field new generations of mobile devices will in the not-too-distant future be forced to adopt IPv6.

The most common examples of IPv6-enabled devices are new cellular handsets, primarily outside the United States, Liu said. “They required large allocations of addresses, and that was what was available.”

Inside the United States, Liu said, he is beginning to field more requests for information about the new protocols. “If you don’t speak IPv6, you won’t be able to address these services,” he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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