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World Ipv6 Day: Undecillion Network Endpoints Expand the Internet

1 Jul, 2012 By: Dr. Satwant Kaur imageSource

IPV6Hailed as the “First Lady of Emerging Technologies” in Silicon Valley, CBS and other media including live radio with the same moniker, and author of “Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments” published by Intel, Dr. Satwant Kaur, a monthly contributor to imageSource magazine, enlightens us on the significance of World IPv6 Day.

Q1: What was the significance of World IPv6 Day?

World IPv6 Day, held June 6, 2012, is an historical day for technology. On this day, the Internet expanded overnight to accommodate 340 undecillion network end points.

Q1B: What do you mean by 340 undecillion network end points?

You see, an undecillion is 1 followed by 36 zeros! The transition on World IPv6 day introduced new IPv6 protocol that allows for 340 undecillion addresses. In other words, the Internet has now expanded to 340 trillion groups of one trillion networks each, and each network can handle a trillion devices. It truly is mind boggling!

Q1C: What specifically happened on this day?

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was launched this day. We embraced IPv6, which is the new version of the basic Internet Protocol, IP, to replace the 25-year-old IPv4 protocol that is used today. On IPv6 Launch Day, we transitioned from IPv4 to IPv6. Our Internet content and services are now being delivered via IPv6. Specifically:

  • World’s largest networks & content providers permanently enabled IPv6 in their networks.
  • The IPv6 has become the mechanism by which data is addressed & routed in small packets across network.
  • All Internet connected computers & devices are connecting using an Internet Protocol, IPv6 address to identify themselves and communicate with other computers or devices.

And, IPv6 support was turned on permanently by the following Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors & web companies, and their systems were made IPv6 compatible, such as:

  • 3,000 important websites, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Bing & Yahoo permanently shipping IPv6 products
  • Five home router vendors including Cisco and D-Link are now shipping home routers with IPv6 turned on by default
  • Cisco.com website was run over IPv6 now
  • Google launched AdSense and content ads with IPv6.

Comcast migrated to IPv6

  • More than 60 access network providers or carriers such as Comcast & Time Warner Cable Businesses, online enterprises, and consumers
  • Many top Content and Internet Service Providers upgraded the equipment they supply to consumers to be IPv6.
  • Industry made IPv6 technology as their primary platform for developing applications or appliances such as sensors, cameras etc.
  • IPv6-based email began: Google opened Gmail to IPv6 and Comcast allowed some customers to send & receive email over IPv6

All this ensures continued growth of the Internet and proactively eliminates business disruption, increased costs, and impact on website functionality caused by the eventual IPv4 address shortage.

Q2: Why did we need to move to IPv6 from IPv4?

We needed to move to IPv6 due to the main restriction of the IPv4 protocol, that only 4.3 billion possible IP addresses could be done, a number we have mostly consumed by using connected systems, mobiles and other devices.

Both IPv4 and IPv6 are internet-layer protocol for packet-switched internetworking and provide end-to-end datagram transmission across multiple IP networks. IPv4 was 32-bit addressing with 4.3 (2^32) billion addresses. Now IPv6 is now 128-bit addressing with 340 undecillion (2^128) addresses.

As we were running out of new IPv4 addresses, we did a temporary solution of using cascading arrays of Network Address Translation (NAT) servers. Using NAT users share their IP address with a few hundred of their network neighbors.

However, NAT cascades had the following issues:

  • Reduced capabilities for end users
  • Disables native inbound connections like VoIP or gaming
  • Disables location services
  • Disables allowing bidirectional communication
  • Higher costs & management complexity for service providers
  • And other issues, etc.

So now, home users will generally be given blocks of addresses to support multiple networks and thousands of devices. In contrast, under IPv4, home users today typically get a single address.

Thus, a massive increase in address space brought by IPv6 allows for virtually an unlimited number of addresses; enough for end users, network operators, organizations, devices, networks, Internet-connected phones, thermostats, as well as backpacks, refrigerators, and medical devices!

Q3: What are the differences between IPv4 & IPv6? Besides addresses what else does IPv6 give us?

SECURITY: IPv4 was designed when cyber security issues were non-existent. IPv6 on the other hand shows:

  • Network security is integrated in the design of IPv6.
  • IPv6 mandates automatic encryption services for data exchange.
  • IPv6 mandates the inclusion of the IP Security (IPsec) suite of protocols in all products.
  • Elimination of NAT will improve IP security deployment. NATs disrupt IP layer traceability & security audit trails.
  • The address rewriting by NAT is a security violation. Without NAT, IPv6 can deploy end-to-end security.

AUTO-CONFIGURATION: Easy “plug and play” networking to configure:

  • Devices / peer-to-peer applications
  • Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and IP-TV
  • Easy to implement and more powerful

MOBILITY: IPv6 introduces new mobile wireless applications and services.

  • Addition of mobile IPv6 specifications

Q4: Okay, so what are some of the challenges of IPv6?

IPv6 is not backward compatible. The first challenge is that if we are to support older IPv4 devices on the network, we need to have the two IPv4 and IPv6 running together since IPv6 is not backward-compatible with IPv4. So network operators both the old and new protocols in dual-stack mode, or does some translation between them. This can have some negative impact, as well as general performance.

New spam filters are needed for IPv6: As Comcast enabled its email infrastructure to support IPv6, the very first IPv6 email that Comcast received was spam. Hence, ISPs need to filter spam for IPv6 by white-listing legitimate email senders rather than blacklisting spammers.

The cost of transition is another is issue: Costs are due to various reasons such as:

  • Hardware and software vendors need to integrate IPv6 as a standard feature in products
  • Organizations need to deploy IPv6 as part of routine upgrade cycles.
  • In-house customized software needs to be upgraded to IPv6
  • End-users applications need to support IPv6
  • Internet service providers need to make IPv6 connectivity available to their users
  • Web companies need to offer their sites and applications over IPv6
  • Operating system vendors need to implement specific software updates for IPv6
  • Backbone providers need to establish IPv6 peering with each other
  • Hardware and home gateway manufacturers need to update firmware.

Network security Tools for IPv6 traffic: Legacy firewalls provide the limited IPv6 security support. They forward IPv6 traffic to its destination, which means the threats hidden within IPv6 content goes through the firewall without detection.

Q5: What does the New Future look like?

The doors have opened for the ‘Internet of Things.’ Now our keys, cars, remotes, refrigerators, devices and gadgets can have an IP address.

With endless IP addresses available in IPV6, users can now control various Internet connected appliances and other everyday objects with just a click on an app in their cell phones etc. This will enable the support of connectivity for a range of smart devices such as phones, household appliances and vehicles, etc.

My own favorite scenario? Soon, when shopping the grocery store armed with a mobile device, my cloud-based shopping list can also check the inventory of the refrigerator as to how many milk bottles are there
and if any of them are expired! Yes, the world is getting more accessible by the minute!

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