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NAT technology cannot completely replace IPv6 migration

By Max Burkhalter
July 6, 2011
Some businesses approach network address translation as their IPv6 savior because it can help them avoid migrating all of their infrastructure to the new protocol. However, NAT technology may only be well suited as a short-term measure and most businesses would be better off developing a long-term IPv6 strategy and beginning implementation, Network World reports.

Network address translation is capable of doing wonders within a private network. It helps stretch out the number of available IPv4 addresses to maximum capacity, makes it easier for devices to share IPv4 addresses and translates internal IPv6 addresses to IPv4 to make them compatible. As a result, the report said many businesses plan to use NAT technology to maintain their IPv4 networks for as long as possible before moving toward IPv6.

While this strategy makes sense on the surface, the report points out a glaring flaw - figuring out what happens when public IP addresses need to access the private network. Since the private network typically connects the servers that host websites and other customer-facing content, consumers using native IPv6 devices may not be able to access these resources if the corporate network is still running in IPv4.

Some businesses may be able to put the responsibility for such an update on their hosting provider, but the report explained the consumer will always blame the company, not a hosting service.

It is also easy to think that most consumers will not be using IPv6 for a while anyway, so NAT should be able to get the job done for quite some time. However, the report said many major mobile providers have plans to release native IPv6 devices within the next 18 months, meaning businesses need to be ready to support the new protocol, at least with their customer-facing content.

Overall, the report said that IPv4 address exhaustion is something that every business is responsible for, and each company needs to evaluate the best way to get itself ready for IPv6. To accomplish this, the report recommends businesses move quickly to develop their IPv6 migration strategies and begin gradually moving to support the new address standard.

Dealing with mobile devices connecting through IPv6 is not the only consideration businesses must take into account. Data Center Knowledge reports the growing number of IP-connected monitoring devices in data center environments is making IPv6 migration a critical task for IT managers.


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