New internet gets down to business with IPv6

Named World IPv6 Day, June 8 is an awareness day to acknowledge the trillions of new IP addresses now available after the previous version—IPv4—began to show its limitations. Rather than a ‘switch over’ day, it recognises the progressive transition to the new system.

IPv4 is a decades-old IP addressing scheme with some 4 billion combinations allowing us access to the internet. IPv6 recognises that with a growing number of organisations online, and an increasing number of devices in each network, we need trillions of IP addresses to operate in a digital world.

What do you need to know about IPv6 to ensure your organisation isn’t affected by the transition? Existing IPv4 addresses will already have an IPv6 equivalent available. However, if your server hasn’t recently been upgraded to recognise both versions, then you may experience traffic issues.

The main benefit of IPv6 is the breathing space it gives to newcomers vying for IP addresses. If you have digital devices on your network, the most common way they connect would be through network address translation, which gives them ‘public’ IP addresses. This takes up memory and CPU cycles on routers. Transitioning to IPv6 won’t be the end of address translation, but it does mean ISPs aren’t forced to do it because of a shortage of addresses.

If you are with a managed service provider, it will handle the transition and all you need to do is run a test to ensure your addresses are active and everything works as planned. If you are not with a managed service provider, here are some steps you need to take to ensure you are IPv6 ready.

Ask your ISP if it is IPv6 enabled
. If it is, find out what its plans are for rollout and compliance so you have a framework for your upgrade project. As with any operating system upgrade you have to buy licences and think about whether you need to upgrade the whole fleet or just the external servers.

Develop a project to upgrade your system. This should include backing up your data before the upgrade, running a proof of concept, and running a pilot to make sure the new operating system functions within your organisational environment with all the required software. You need to understand how IPv6 works and how your ISP will rout your traffic.

Consider cloud computing as an alternative. Upgrades often become a decision point for many people who see there’s no reason to upgrade the servers with all of the software compared with a cloud solution.

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