The Network Hub

Feb 7 2008   8:36PM GMT

IPv6 makes inroads on the Internet

SusanFogarty Susan Fogarty Profile: SusanFogarty

IPv6 ready

This week, ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) announced that it made almost half of the Internet’s root server networks IPv6 capable. According to the release:

IPv6 addresses were added for six of the world’s 13 root server networks (A, F, H, J, K, M) to the appropriate files and databases. This move allows for the possibility of fuller IPv6 usage of the Domain Name System (DNS). Prior to today, those using IPv6 had needed to retain the older IPv4 addressing system in order to be able to use domain names.

This actually surprised me, because over at SearchNetworking, we’ve been writing about migrating to IPv6 for quite a while. I didn’t realize that while corporations, schools and government agencies were upgrading to the new protocol, they also had to keep running IPv4 for Internet transmissions because the Internet itself did not support IPv6. Sending and receiving IPv6 traffic across the Internet was a clunky, expensive process that involved the use of specialized gateways to perform DNS mapping and/or network address translation.

The ICANN changes will allow devices to use IPv6 directly to reach a good portion of the Internet, with more to come in the near future, we presume. And almost all new networking equipment you buy now is IPv6-enabled. That combination will help simplify upgrades for networking teams that are just beginning to think about it.

For more technical detail, a comprehensive report on ICANN’s DNS changes is available from their Root Server and Security Advisory Committees, prepared by networking expert Dave Piscitello.

For readers who plan to procrastinate indefinitely and ignore the reports of address space running out (the IPv6 Forum predicts it will be in 1648 days), keep in mind that the U.S. government is requiring all its networks to be IPv6 compliant by June 30. All companies that have contracts with or are suppliers to any government agency must also comply, so that will trickle down to a large percentage of U.S. businesses. Ramping up your IPv6 skills now may be worth your while in the long run.

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