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IPv6 offers major benefits for data center operators

By Max Burkhalter
September 27, 2011
IPv6 migration is emerging as a critical need because IPv4 addresses are running out, and more devices are shipping with IPv6 addresses instead of IPv4. However, the threats of losing touch with customers, facing limited connectivity options and experiencing degraded communications infrastructure are not the only factors impacting the data center sector's move toward IPv6, according to a recent Data Center Knowledge report.

Migrating to IPv6 is not only motivated by potential problems. The news source said data center operators can benefit substantially from IPv6 migration, as the protocol will give them access to the top network topologies and security systems currently available.

The report said that the overwhelming motivation behind IPv6 migration is the dwindling number of IPv4 addresses. However, this fails to address the many benefits associated with IPv6, as IPv4 is limited by more than just available addresses. IPv4 is plagued by inferior packet routing and processing, excessive complexity when it comes to configuration, poor security capabilities and indirect data flows.

According to the report, IPv6 is capable of rectifying many of the flaws associated with IPv4, and can put data center operators in a position to leverage the primary benefits of the technology. IPv6 is able to improve network routing efficiency, support peer-to-peer connectivity, limit the impact of router processing and eliminate the need for network address translation and other technologies that make IPv4 infrastructure overly complex. Essentially, the news source said, IPv6's nearly unlimited number of addresses may not be its greatest benefit, and IPv4 exhaustion should not be the only motivator behind migration.

The importance of IPv6 migration, from the perspectives of its benefits and its urgency, is becoming clear in the data center sector. However, establishing IPv6 infrastructure can be a major challenge because it needs to be accomplished while keeping the network compatible with IPv4 transmissions. To accomplish this, the report said data center operators should turn to dual-stack protocol so equipment can handle both network address formats.

While IPv6 is designed to improve many traditional network processes, including security, there are still some inherent risks associated with the new protocol. According to a recent eSecurityPlanet report, organizations deploying IPv6 infrastructure will face some risks as new attacks emerge designed specifically to target vulnerabilities in IPv6. In many cases these issues have not been addressed because the technology is so young in nature.


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