Six steps to transition to IPv6

Users of the Internet take note: with the world running out of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses , there’s a need to transition to the new protocol, IPv6 in order to stay connected to the Web.

Richard Hyatt, chief technology officer and co-founder of IP address management (IPAM) solutions vendor, BlueCat Networks, has six steps to help you with your IPv6 migration.

Since IPv4 and IPv6 are not automatically compatible with each other, those currently using IPv4 addresses may not be able to communicate with users on the new protocol.

In a previous interview with CDN, Leo Vegoda, manager of number resources for the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said IPv6 is not backward-compatible with IPv4 so the ability to communicate through applications where two points connect will be impossible.

To keep the lines of communication open, Web users and providers need to migrate to the new protocol and run both IPs in tandem, on a dual-stack until all version 4 addresses are depleted, said Jacques Latour, director of IT at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. Latour also said the migration is not just about upgrading the network, but also includes upgrading to new equipment such as routers and switches that support IPv6.

While industry experts agree that the migration path to IPv6 is complex and challenging, BlueCat Networks is hoping to change that. The Toronto-based company was founded in 2001 by Hyatt and his brother to address the needs of managing IP addresses within an organization using an appliance solution.

“(Version 4) IP addresses are a scarce resource and people are going into the planning phase now,” Hyatt said. “Everyone on the Internet will need a version 6 presence in the next five years and channel partners are essential to helping customers migrate over. Partners will also need to beef up their skills for IPv6 because it’s different from IPv4.”

In order to migrate to the new protocol, it’s essential that businesses, large and small, have an IPv6 strategy. Hyatt shares six critical steps on how to get there:

1) Discover –Go through and look at what you have today for IPv4 and IPv6.

2) Plan –What are you going to do? Will you transition the entire company, or a certain part of your Web traffic to IPv6? What’s your starting plan and your end goal?

3) Model –Decide what your infrastructure will look like and determine what needs to be updated.

4) Map –When mapping your environment, look at how you’ll combine IPv4 and IPv6 and figure out what your network should look like. Also, document which devices need to be updated, added or replaced.

5) Implement –Implement and decide what your security plan should look like.

6) Manage –Figure out how you’ll manage your network in the long-term and monitor everything, such as usage tracking and audits.

At BlueCat Networks, Hyatt said the company offers IPAM solutions which help with mapping and visualizing the network.

“Proteus is our IPAM platform and is the centre of all IP address management and mapping with respect to the names and devices on the network,” Hyatt said. “The problem is when you use an old-fashioned tool like an Excel spreadsheet to manage your IPs, it’s a bunch of numbers and letters. Our IPAM tool can break it down to manage these addresses on one screen and users can find devices by type and name and see how they’re being used.”

More specifically, Proteus is a multi-core system that links changes to the entire IP space within an organization. It also features simultaneous support capabilities for both IPv4 and IPv6, Hyatt added.

On June 8, the Internet Society, along with BlueCat Networks and other vendors, will take part in World IPv6 Day , where companies will enable IPv6 on their Web sites for 24 hours in hopes of making the transition to IPv6 easier.

“The real problem with IPv6 is how many people will be able to get online if they aren’t on the new protocol on World IPv6 day?” Hyatt said.

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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