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An IPv6 Update: Are You Prepared?

By Kaleigh Brousseau | Thursday, February 24th, 2011

By now, you must have heard – we’re running out of Internet addresses! Don’t panic, though. Despite some beliefs, this transitional period does not mark the end of the world…or the end of the Internet. It merely opens the door to a new set of Internet subscribers.

Since the inception of the Internet, we have been using IPv4, which totals about 4.3 billion Internet addresses. Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? But with the increasing number of wireless technologies that support the Internet (smart phones, tablet devices, etc.), these addresses have begun to deplete. 

At the beginning of February, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) announced it had allocated the remaining free blocks of IPv4 address space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). To read the complete press release, click here.

Each of these blocks contains about 16.7 million addresses, which are expected to be assigned to various carriers by the end of 2011. There are some security concerns surrounding the depletion of IPv4 addresses, but mostly due to the unknown nature of the newest Internet Protocol - IPv6.

The good news is that Internet carriers are being proactive about the IPv6 transition. Vendors like Google, Comcast and Time Warner Cable (among many others) have signed on to participate in World IPv6 Day on June 8, 2011 – a 24-hr trial of the newest Internet protocol. The trial will allow these carriers to demonstrate their ability to support traffic from both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

According to John Curran, president of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), “the most important thing is for enterprises to IPv6 enable their public facing Web servers. Once you’ve done that, you can provide the same connectivity to your customers whether they have an IPv4 address or an IPv6 address.”

If you are concerned about how the depletion of IPv4 addresses (and subsequent transition to IPv6 addresses) will affect your business, contact your IT provider to ensure they can support IPv6. Given that there is limited operational experience with IPv6, you’ll want to be encouraged that your IPv6 configuration is being handled by an expert network engineer.

So what’s next? Should we worry about how long it will take before IPv6 addresses delete and we have to repeat this process? Word is that with its 128-bit addressing scheme, IPv6 can support 2 to the 128th power of IP addresses, so don’t expect there to be another shortage any time soon!

If you’d like to learn more about how we’re helping our clients to prepare to IPv6, contact one of Eze Castle Integration's experts.

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