As IT admins and network engineers we all know the answer to why we need to migrate to IPv6. Let’s do a quick recap. The primary sources of IPv4 addresses are getting exhausted. Of the five regional Internet registries (RIR) in the world, the Asian major, APNIC, has officially declared in 2011 that they are out of IPv4. RIPE, the European RIR, is expected to run out in 2013. Even the large blocks of pre-allocated IPv4 addresses will run out eventually.
It’s not just the IPv4 resource depletion issue that you must consider for the move. There are some significant advantages in migrating to IPv6.
IPv6’s 128 bits (versus 32 bits in IPv4) provides virtually unlimited address space that enables any device to have a unique IP address
Better network management and routing efficiency because of the larger subnet space
Improved encryption and authentication options
Improved QoS support
Extended support for mobile devices
The next big questions is: “How to go about migrating to IPv6?”
Planning is the key to unlocking hassle-free IPv6 migration. Plan ahead in advance and identify your infrastructure needs. Check whether your network hardware and software inventory are compatible with IPv6 and support applications on IPv6.
Also, try creating and testing migration scenarios before the actual implementation.
Execute the migration by studying the existing IPv4 hierarchy/architecture and translating the addresses to IPv6.
Migrate your routing configurations by identifying and changing the configurations wherever required.
Migrate your security policies – such as those on routing, load balancing, health checks, etc. – seamlessly so that the network security is intact during and after the migration.
Analyze your network performance after the migration to check for any network performance issues and additional infrastructure needs.
Throughout the planning and migration process, keep in mind to assess risks and work out mitigation measures, and to minimize the cost overheads.
You can follow any of the popular migration approaches – dual stack, tunnels, and translation – but ensure to carry out a well-planed and resilient migration to IPv6 to not have the users, applications, network, IT infrastructure and business services impacted later on.
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