IPv6: Behind the hype

Recent developments surrounding the long-anticipated upgrade to the 'Net's main communications protocol.

IPv6 backers have touted the next-generation Internet technology for years, warning U.S. service providers and enterprises that if they don't upgrade soon they'll fall hopelessly behind their Asian and European competitors. These worrywarts may finally be getting it right.

Developed a decade ago by the Internet Engineering Task Force, IPv6 offers many advantages over IPv4 including easier administration, built-in security and an enhanced addressing scheme. IPv6 uses a 128-bit addressing scheme, which allows a virtually limitless number of uniquely identified systems to be connected directly to the Internet. IPv4 uses a 32-bit addressing scheme, which supports only a few billion systems.

Large blocks of IPv4 addresses were allocated to the U.S. government agencies and companies that created the Internet, causing shortages in other parts of the world. That's why there's more interest in IPv6 in Asia and Europe than in the United States.

Driven by new wireless applications and devices that require many IP addresses, IPv6 is finally gaining momentum. IPv6 is built into most routers and operating systems. New IPv6-enabled network hardware and software products are hitting the market. Venture capital firms are investing in IPv6-related start-ups. And U.S. government agencies, under a mandate to support IPv6 by 2008, are gaining valuable hands-on experience with the technology.

But many challenges remain for IPv6 deployment, including migrating enterprise software to IPv6, training network engineers in the next-generation of IP and allocating the money required for IPv6 upgrades. In addition, systems running both IPv6 and IPv4 suffer from significant performance degradation when compared to today's IPv4-only systems.

Here are some of the latest developments in IPv6 as chronicled by Network World:

InfoWeapons unveils IPv6-ready DNS appliances

Start-up InfoWeapons is selling what it claims are the first DNS appliances to support both IPv4 and IPv6 running in dual-stack mode.

Semiconductor manufacturers team to speed IPv6

Among the challenges faced by IPv6, a long anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, is the fact that IPv6 is slower than the existing IPv4 it hopes to replace. Recent tests have shown significant performance degradation when network equipment runs IPv6 and IPv4 at the same time, as will likely happen on service provider and enterprise networks during the transition to IPv6.

IPv6 boosters target emergency nets

Proponents of IPv6, a long anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, see potential for the technology in networks used by police, fire and other government officials in response to emergencies such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Network Time Protocol works with IPv6

Researchers involved with Moonv6, the world's largest native IPv6 testbed, have demonstrated that the Network Time Protocol runs over IPv6, a long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main protocol.

Government agency details its experience with IPv6

Try to find an enterprise that is running IPv6 in production mode, and you'll likely come up empty handed. That's because few U.S. organizations are deploying or even testing the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main protocol.

Five IPv6 tips from an early adopter

If you're wondering what to do about IPv6 -- a long anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol -- consider the case of the Social Security Administration.

An inconvenient truth about IPv6

IPv6 has long suffered from the perception that it is a good solution looking for a problem to solve. The Social Security Administration's hands-on experience with this upgrade to the Internet's main protocol does little to change that perception.

Feds lack plans, funding for IPv6, survey says

Federal IT officials lack knowlege of IPv6, haven't finalized plans to upgrade to the next-generation IP and haven't received funding for the migration, according to a survey due for release Monday by Cisco.

Canadian IPv6 start-up attracts VC funding

Hexago, a Montreal start-up that provides IPv6 tuneling software to ISPs and enterprises, has attracted $6 million (Canadian dollars) in its first round of venture financing.

IPv6 cost estimates trigger debate

How much will it cost ISPs and enterprise customers to transition to IPv6, an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol? No one know for sure, but a recent report sponsored by the U.S. federal government has created controversy among IPv6 proponents for its $25 billion estimate.

IPv6 cost estimates for ISPs

A new study estimates that U.S. service providers will spend $136 million over the next 25 years in the transition to IPv6, a long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet' s main communications protocol.

IPv6 cost estimates for end users

End users -- including small, medium and large businesses -- will spend $23.3 billion to upgrade to IPv6 over the next 25 years, according to a new report written by RTI International for the U.S. Commerce Department.

IPv6 cost estimates: the ROI

The $25 billion that U.S. businesses will spend on IPv6 over the next 25 years will not be money going down the drain, according to a new report that estimates the upgrade to the Internet's main protocol will result in potential benefits of more than $10 billion per year.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.