Now is the time to finally make the leap from IPv4 to IPv6.
We’ve heard the apocalyptic theories swirling about for years—how we all need to move over to IPv6 or else the internet will implode. And yet, as of March 2022, only 34% of the world has deployed IPv6, with the United States adopting at a slightly faster rate of approximately 46%.
We all know that IPv6—which has been around for 26 years!—will be the standard at some point. So why is it taking so long for organizations to transition? How should your organization make the move, and what can you expect?
A Complicated Process
There are a number of factors contributing to the slow adoption of IPv6 worldwide:
A Chain Reaction
Changing the Internet Protocol (IP) can’t be done one connection at a time. A sending system that creates an IPv6 packet needs all the routers, firewalls, and load balancers that are in its path to understand and be able to process the IPv6 packet. Plus, the receiving system needs to be able to understand the IP packet for everything to work correctly. We can’t just upgrade a server and a client application; it also requires upgrading everything in between.
Room to Grow
Believe it or not, we still haven’t run out of IPv4 addresses.
The Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) is the standards organization that is responsible for allocating IP addresses globally. The IANA in turn uses five Regional Internet Registries (RIR) to distribute available IP Addresses. The IANA exhausted its IPv4 address pools in February 2011, and as of November 2019, all five RIR have exhausted their IPv4 addresses.
Despite these facts, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) still have IPv4 addresses that can be assigned to customers. That’s because of the Network Address Translation (NAT), or the method of remapping one IP address space into another. Most NATs map private hosts to one publicly exposed IP address, which reduces the public IPv4 addresses required. ISPs take this one step further with the use of carrier grade NAT. This allows them to use NAT with private address space within their network and then perform an additional NAT at the demarcation point to the Internet mapping the internal address to a public address. The use of Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) and ISPs pulling back unused address space from customers has also helped preserve IPv4 addresses.
Who is Transitioning?
The IPv4 to IPv6 migration status differs across audiences.
- Carrier networks and ISPs have been working hard to deploy IPv6, with mobile networks being one of the main drivers.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) is on its third attempt at implementing IPv6. A new mandate states that 20% of IP-enabled assets on DoD networks will be operating in IPv6-only environments by the end of fiscal year 2023. The number increases to 50% by the end of fiscal year 2024 and 80% by 2025.
- Enterprises, on the other hand, have dropped in adoption rate from 2020 to 2021. Complexity, costs, and resources are all contributing to the slow migration to IPv6. Government action may be what it takes for a faster transition. China is a good example, as they have plans to have 800 million active IPv6 users by the end of 2025.
How to Start Your Transition
Although exhaustion of IPv4 has taken longer than expected, it will eventually happen. The prolific use of mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) will only speed that process up.
Don’t wait. Get started on the process now and be prepared to make the change. Here’s how:
- Start evaluating the devices on your network to determine which ones are IPv6 capable and which one need to be upgraded.
- Obtain an IPv6 prefix and develop an addressing plan.
- Discuss migration options and document transition methods.
CyKor Can Help
Need a plan for migrating your IPv4 to IPv6, or just have questions? Reach out to CyKor. We’re an information technology consulting firm that bridges the gap between vendors and customers, delivering integrated IT solutions for sustainable results. Our engineers are experienced with developing and executing a transition plan that’s tailored to your unique environment and capabilities.