IPv6 deployment guide

A step-by-step approach to full-scale adoption of IPv6 in the enterprise

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IPv6 has been gaining traction since it was developed in the late 1990s, and enterprises that are implementing it now are considered to be among the early majority – meaning widespread adoption is well underway – so if you haven’t already begun, you need to start planning IPv6 deployment.

The first step along that path is to do your homework. There are many published resources that enterprises can leverage to plan their IPv6 deployments, and some very valuable ones are linked to at the bottom of this article.

[ Check out our guide to IPv6 addressing for enterprises. ]

But to help get you started, here are some best practices that enterprises are encouraged to use in formulating their deployment plans.

Organize Your IPv6 team

You will want to pull together a cross-functional team to lead your IPv6 planning and deployment.  Having team-members from the networking, security, systems, applications, desktop and helpdesk teams, along with business unit and management stakeholders, will ensure successful cooperation and collaboration.

Inventory and asses

You may elect to pull together an inventory of all the IT assets you have in your enterprise and assess if they have sufficient IPv6 capabilities to move forward.  The good news for most enterprises is that they have waited to the point now where almost all routers, switches, firewalls, operating systems, applications and other systems have robust IPv6 capabilities.

Get trained on IPv6

Most enterprises have IT staff that has not spent much time learning about IPv6 and comparing it to the IPv4 protocol they are familiar with.  When these teams start to learn about IPv6, they often ask many of the same basic questions.  Even though there have been excellent IPv6 training materials available for years, many IT teams could use a good IPv6 tutorial to help get them started. Any extra training will pay dividends as the IPv6 project progresses.

IPv6 planning and design

Once the teams are trained and know what is in the environment, they can create a detailed technical plan for deployment.  This wholistic design will take into account all aspects of your environment and the business benefits that your organization will derive from IPv6 implementation.  The plan should follow the internet-inward deployment method.

IPv6 addressing plan

At this point, the team will understand IPv6 address formats and will be ready to build an IPv6 addressing plan. The first step is to determine the size of the global IPv6 prefix your organization may need, a process that can be helped along with an IPv6 address planning tool.  Then you can request an IPv6 address allocation from your regional internet registry (RIR) and proceed to create the detailed prefix plan.  Since this is your organization’s first IPv6 plan, it is beneficial to leverage experience contained in an excellent IPv6 addressing book, and consider using an IPv6 IP Address Management (IPAM) tool to assist with the hex math.

IPv6 proof of concept (PoC)

If your organization has a lab to test configurations, then this is where you will perfect your configuration scripts.  Using your own IPv6 home lab, while a great way to learn, may not be sufficient, and you may require a PoC testbed to prepare for production implementation.

Deploying IPv6 at the internet perimeter

All the preparations up to this stage have laid a foundation for your organization to start pulling together the configuration changes you will make to network devices, servers, security systems, services and end-user devices.  Moving into the deployment phase is where things gets exciting for the teams who have been planning up to this point.

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