My post, Tips for Mapping Your IP address Space, included some ideas on how to effectively map IP your address space to see the IP address usage in your network. Now, we will look at effectively managing your IPv6 address space. The rapid depletion of IPv4 address space and increased difficulty in accessing remaining IPv4 resources has prompted network administrators to seriously examine planning, allocation, and management strategies for IPv6 addresses.

For your company to continue achieving business and growth goals, you should start now to prepare your organization’s network to support IPv6—fully or in dual-stack with IPv4.

Benefits of Upgrading to IPv6

Your network infrastructure has a direct impact on your company’s business objectives and growth strategies. The loss of productivity due to network downtime can be costly. Knowing what IPv6 devices are running and how the address space is being used in your network greatly improves your ability to troubleshoot issues and accommodate network growth. The benefits of upgrading to IPv6 include:

  • Reduces network complexity and the need to deal with searching for IP information when troubleshooting
  • Heightens your ability to make informed decisions using reliable IP documentation
  • Helps simplify the move from dual-stack support with IPv4 to fully supporting IPv6

IPv6 Management

Some the major tasks associated with managing IPv6 are:

  • Tracking and allocating IPv6 addresses
  • Identifying which IPv6 addresses are in use
  • Tracking and managing dual-stack hosts

Tracking and Allocating IPv6 Addresses

One of the key differences between IPv4 and IPv6 is IPv6 has much larger address space and subnet sizes. The first step to tracking and allocating your IPv6 address space is to see which devices on your network are running IPv6. You can use spreadsheets for this process, but because IPv6 addresses are longer, more complex, and difficult to remember, you increase your risk of making errors when you update the IPv6 data in your spreadsheets. In addition, the dynamic assignment of addresses through DHCP makes it difficult to keep IP documentation up-to-date. It’s much easier to map your IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to a single system for tracking. 

Identifying Which IPv6 Addresses are in Use

You can track IP address usage directly from routers. Also, periodically scanning your network to identify and update IP usage documentation helps you maintain a more organized and accurate inventory.

There are tools that enable you to automate tracking and scanning processes and most of them use a variety of scanning techniques like neighbor, ICMP, and SNMP scanning. Each technique has strengths and weaknesses, so to get an accurate, real-time visual of your IP space, it’s better to use a combination of all these techniques.

Your IP management system should be able to provide historical data on IP usage. This information is very useful in tracking IP address consumption over time and performing long-term capacity planning.

Tracking and Managing Dual-Stack Hosts

Track and manage your existing IPv4 space alongside your IPv6 addresses. This helps you with your overall IP management as well as planning for complete migration to IPv6 in the future. To improve overall efficiency of managing IP addresses in your network, choose an IP address management system that provides you with a management layer that spans the entire organization/network. In other words, consolidate your entire IP management along with your DHCP and DNS administration into one system.

Top 3 Tips for Managing IPv6 in Your Network

  • Automate network subnet and device scanning to build accurate address space maps and available IP’s within an address block
  • Integrate DHCP, DNS administration for both IPv4 and IPv6 address space to reduce management effort and improve accuracy in provisioning and decommissioning IP’s
  • Ensure IPv6 migration preparedness with accurate IP documentation and ensure that critical resources and operations are working as intended to avoid network downtime