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Service providers using diverse strategies for IPv6

By Donna Donnowitz
May 25, 2011
Transitioning to the IPv6 address protocol is widely considered more important for service providers than for other types of companies. As a result, most service providers are at the forefront of IPv6 adoption.

A recent survey from BT Diamond IP found that service providers are leading the way toward IPv6 adoption, as all respondents have either begun the migration or are creating strategies to do so shortly. However, the survey also found service providers are taking diverse paths to IPv6 adoption.

In a recent interview with Connected Planet, Tim Rooney, director of product management for BT Diamond IP, attributed the diverse range of IPv6 strategies to the variety of service provider types surveyed in the study.

For example, the survey found a high percentage of service providers that work with customers operating their own websites are deploying dual-stack technology to support IPv6. Dual-stack connections create separate tunnels for IPv4 and IPv6 within the same network infrastructure. The equipment simply identifies the incoming address, sends it through the correct tunnel and connects the user to the website. This is a key strategy for businesses operating a website because both IPv4 and IPv6 users will need to access the page.

Another significant group of service providers is planning to use tunneling, technologies, Rooney said. A network tunnel essentially circumvents the need to upgrade infrastructure by embedding an IPv6 address within the data packet of an IPv4 transmission. This allows the network to recognize both addresses as needed by using network address translation technology.

A number of service providers also said they plan to complete a full conversion to IPv6 which will create native IPv6 networks and support all of the address technology's capabilities. However, no time-frame was given to illustrate how long it may take to create a fully-IPv6 compliant network and the Connected Planet report said it will likely take years before these service providers make the transition. Dual-stack and NAT-based systems, such as tunneling, are short-term fixes for the IPv6 migration, according to the report.

IPv6 deployment may be more urgent than many expect. While the timeline for IPv4 address decline is fairly clear, Glenn Evans, lead engineer of InteropNet, the company that creates network infrastructure for the annual Interop conferences, recently told TechTarget businesses should take a more urgent approach to IPv6 adoption because it offers many significant challenges.


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