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IPv6: Are We There Yet?

April 09, 2015
Carol Kavalla


The first big push toward implementation of IPv6 was mobile devices. Now, one of the driving forces is the Internet of Things. As the name implies, this means everything, including machine to machine communication (M2M).


In 1998, IPv6 was officially introduced with RFC 2460. Now the Internet, businesses, and home users are all implementing IPv6, correct? Well, maybe not totally correct or even close to correct. The fact that the widespread implementation of IPv6 is taking so long leads to some questions:

- Why is IPv6 implementation taking so long?

- Who is Using IPv6 now?

- What are the predicted trends for IPv6?

- What are the business benefits of implementing IPv6?

Why is IPv6 implementation taking so long?

The world has been hearing for years that we are running out of IPv4 address space, yet it seems that most organizations have not been rushing to immediately implement IPv6. The cost associated with new hardware and software that supports IPv6 is certainly one of the reasons for this lack of interest, along with the associated expenses of training for IPv6 implementation. Also, many organizations implemented strategies such as Network Address Translation (NAT) and Port Address Translation (PAT) as a workaround for needing more IP addresses. While this mitigates the problem of running out of IPv4 address space, it introduces new problems. Multiple NAT implementations make troubleshooting more difficult and break the original end-to-end IP model.

One of the original organizations pushing for IPv6 compliance in the United States was the Department of Defense (DoD). By 2008 the DoD had piloted IPv6 on its network backbone. However, in a December 2014, a report by the DoD determined the following:

"Although DoD satisfied the requirement to demonstrate IPv6 on the network backbone by June 2008, DoD did not complete the necessary Federal and DoD requirements and deliverables to effectively migrate the DoD enterprise network to IPv6. This occurred because:

- The DoD Chief Information Officer (CIO) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) did not make IPv6 a priority

- The DoD CIO, USCYBERCOM, and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) lacked an effectively coordinated effort and did not use available resources to further DoD-wide transition toward IPv6; and

- The DoD CIO did not have a current plan of action and milestones to advance DoD IPv6 migration."

Marco Hogewoning, one of the Reseaux IP Europeenne (RIPE) IPv6 Working Group co-chairs, cites the "lack of a clear business case to recover the cost of such a deployment" as a reason for the slow implementation. He goes on to say, "The fundamental problem here is that the majority of market players still view IPv6 as a product, rather than what it really is: a building block to a new future."

This paper will explore looking at IPv6 as a building block and also we'll take a look at who is implementing IPv6 as well as the current trends in IPv6 implementation.

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