Deploying IPv6: Current IPv6 State, and Current Uptake of IPv6

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Abstract

The internet has been evolving at a very fast rate. This has necessitated the need for its applications to change with the demands of the changing times. The internet protocol version four has been in use for the last twenty-five years. It has however not been effective in the recent past given that the internet needs have been changing rapidly. IPv4 has therefore proved to be having some shortcomings. IPv6 has therefore been invented to keep up with the growing internet demands. It is an improved version that is able to cater to the rising demand for IP addresses. It has been a challenging task to ensure the smooth transition from the internet protocol version four to version six (Bradner 1993, pp. 45-50). Given that the internet has been growing at a fast rate, the IPv4 addresses have been undergoing depletion. Strict policies have been enacted by registries that are responsible for address allocation. This is meant to curb the problem of depletion and ensure effectiveness in performance. The deployment has greatly been relying on the Network Address Translation. This has however been challenging given that other applications cannot work on the NAT devices while others require additional codes for proper functioning. The current internet connections usually involve not only just the computers but also other gadgets hence, making the IP addresses necessary. The internet has been changing due to the High-speed connection that is always on using the DSL or the modems. There has been a need, therefore, to employ IPv6 which is the best version as it has a large space for the address. It allows for various subnets within a site accommodating very many hosts. It allows for stateless auto-configuration making mobility management efficient and its IP sec is very much integrated (Deering 1998, pp. 22).

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Introduction

With the rise in internet usage, there has been a great need to have a very effective internet protocol that is able to meet the rising internet demands and one that is adaptable in different ways. This has resulted into the adoption of the IPv6 protocol which is aimed at meeting the rising demands of the internet. The IPv4 internet protocol version has been in use for a reasonably long period of time and it is impossible to replace it at once. It has been found out that, effective replacement of such a version can only take place in phases so as to avoid any interference or inconveniences caused particularly by traffic interruption. The IPv4 has a huge number of users as compared to the IPv6. The IPv6 has been characterized by inadequate infrastructure that is needed for realistic production level. For effectiveness, the IPv6 needs a technical staff that is well trained, an appropriate hardware, operating systems, tools, applications as well as the middleware. All these need time and resources. Version 4 of the protocol has been having its own limitations and this has prompted to the invention of version 6. The IPv6 also has its own challenges as well and this has caused many people not to adapt it (Rashid 2010, pp. 3).

High-speed network rooters might for instance, require upgrading of hardware so as to enhance the switching of IPv6 packets. Amortization might also be necessary before any upgrading of the legacy applications. Reluctance is usually eminent among the software venders when it comes to enhancement of the IPv6 support due to the uncertainty about the outcomes. As much as the IPv6 has been adopted in an attempt to replace the IPv4, it has had its own challenges as well. There are several recommendations made in order to ensure that these challenges are minimized or tackled thus ensuring effectiveness in service provision.

Technical Issues

Compatibility issues have often been a big challenge while porting any application from version four to version six of the internet protocol. Compatibility between the version and the operating system might for instance be difficult hence making it difficult for the users to use the application. Backward compatibility has been difficult or even impossible in some cases. The running of the IPv6 on an operating system requires that the system be compatible with the version, if not, then, the application might not be operational hence inconveniencing the users. It is not common for the third party applications to be compiled on the most recent version of the OS that is targeted although this might be possible for the earlier version. The customers might be forced to either upgrade their operating systems to that which can support IPv6 or maintain the version that can operate with the IPv4. Transition between the two versions is never an easy task.

Major IPv4 Protocol Problems

There has been a very significant increase in the number of internet users across the globe. This has been challenging given that the IPv4 has a fixed structure. The internet has been experiencing the emergence of new application like video conferencing as well as multi media among other applications. This has therefore led to the need for new IP features. With the increase in the number of internet users, there has been a tendency for the IP addresses to undergo depletion given that only a fixed number of addresses are supported by version four. The IP address supports a limited number of hierarchies which include the host, subnets as well as the nets. It has been particularly difficult to ensure that there is the provision of real-time services, with video conferencing as the best example. Backbone routers and the network need to track each internet route which has not been an easy task in the past. It seems as though the memory technology growth rate is being outpaced by the routing table’s sizes (Droms 2004, pp.22-59).

The solution to the mentioned problem could be the creation of more subnet layers although this could lead to the consumption of more spaces meant for address in the packet header. The address shortage problem could be prevented by a scheme to prevent viable length. This is however, known for reducing the performance of the network as well as limiting the processing overhead due to its complexity. The IPv4 auto-configuration has been characterized by instability and this is very inconveniencing to the users.

The IPv4 version has been a low Maximum Transmission Unit. Larger packets usually undergo fragmentation thus violating the protocol levels. There are usually some cases whereby bigger downloads are not successful due to their sizes. IPv4 has some optional sections which include source routing, service type, security among others. These options are not supported by all the applications. At times the router manufacturers might opt to ensure the speeding up of their benchmarks through the omission of those features that are optional. This discourages people from using these functions. Even when supported, these features usually have fixed sizes which might not be enough (Droms 2004, pp 59).

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IPv4’s packet header comes in various sizes and its options might not necessarily be word aligned. This makes it slower given that other RISC boxes usually have difficulty when it comes to data that is not aligned. The IPv4 addresses can no longer support many users due IPv4 is limitations. If everyone in the world had an IPv4 address as well as individual addresses for their individual devices, then it is likely that these addresses would not be enough to support all these. Private networks might employ the RFC1597 addresses, although this would not be enough. If every user would decide to use the host range to the fullest, then the IP wastage would significantly bring down the effectiveness of the IP addresses. Constant changes that occur in the IP addresses might cause the version to slow down.

There seems to be ineffective aggregation of the routing information. The IPv4 backbone has been perceived to be unstable due to overloading factors. The IPv4 protocol usually has security problems due to the factor that it was created without considering its security. It is in fact the end-hosts who are expected to provide security as it has an end-to-end model. The users might be denied access to computer resources by overloading the network with requests hence denying the intended users access to the network.

The protocol is also prone to attacks from viruses and worms which comprise of malicious codes and programs that are capable of spreading from host to host aided by the address space on the IPv4. The protocol does not have a suitable authentication mechanism. It is therefore, possible for a third party to read the messages and even modify them without the hosts noticing. There is very limited privacy on the network that uses version four of the internet protocol. It is also prone to the fragmentation attacks whereby the attacker sends patchy packets which if assembled at the hosts destination, they become large than the network can handle hence causing it to crash, reboot or hang (Gunderson 2008).

Port scanning that is done on the network can be misused by overexploiting the hosts. Port scanning is usually easier on the IPv4 due to the fact that the version has a smaller space for addresses. It is also prone to the ARP poison attacks which are usually done with the intention of associating the MAC address of the attacker with another nodes IP address. The traffic meant for that address might be accidentally sent to the attackers address instead. All these challenges make version four ineffective and inefficient.

Several techniques have been employed to ensure that these security issues of the IPv4 version are dealt with. In some cases, the IPSec is usually used so as to enhance encrypted communication although, this is optional and it is the user who has the greater responsibility of ensuring the same.

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Solutions to the IPv4 Problems

The IPv6 version has been perceived as one that would solve the problems posed by the challenges that are posed by version four so as to improve the performance of the networks. The IPv6 improves the performance as well as the speed of the networks. The version provides an option for the limited number of web addresses that version four of the protocol has. It has been predicted that the IPv4 addresses will soon be depleted and hence, the need for a version that will have a provision for more addresses. Most agencies have had to upgrade their systems to version six so as to ensure greater efficiency and make use of the unlimited web addresses.

IPv6 has been perceived as the only solution to the delays that are experienced while using the IPv4 version. Version 4 requires greater computing power especially when it comes to the processing of information concerning identity as compared to version 6. IPv4 requires more conversions so as to upgrade to a higher version while the IPv6 doesn’t require any conversion and to add on that, it is faster. IPv6 is also known for greater compatibility when compared to version four. With the increase in the number of internet users, version 4 of the IP protocol seems to be overwhelmed hence, the need to have a version that would be able to accommodate the same. There is therefore need to ensure a smooth transition between these versions. In case of difficulty in transition, most users might opt to retain the older version.

Version 6 is compatible with most of the applications that are available in different fields like the business field, companies among others. With the adoption of the IPv4, one user is able to have several IP addresses. The IPv6 protocol has greater compatibility with the devices that are availed to the internet.

Current IPv6 state

Most of the Major venders have introduced the IPv6 in a move to improve their efficiency. Cisco for instance, published the roadmap for the delivery of IPv6 services. Most companies have made efforts to build their business plans basing on the IPv6 backbone. Most companies are moving towards the provision of IPv6 services. The cell phone industry has also been at the forefront in deploying the IPv6 architecture in its applications. There seems to be a significant increase in the number of users who are adapting the IPv6 protocol. Taking the Canadian example, there are about 36 unique autonomous systems that use the IPv6 prefix out of the 818 self-sufficient systems that use the Canadian prefix which is about 4.4%. The deployment is at a fast rate and soon it is expected to be higher since most of the IPv4 users are upgrading their protocols to version six.

Different countries have different IPv4 deployment percentages. Countries with 11% deployment include; Trinidad, Tobago, South Africa, Norway and Egypt. Liechtenstein has 13% deployment while Malaysia, Netherlands and Portugal have about 14% deployment. Those with deployment of more than 50% include Fiji, Cuba and Vatican. Vatican has only one ASn in business. It does the advertising for the IPv4 hence making up the 100% representation. East Asia and most European countries seem to have greater representation of the IPv6. The percentage is however still very low going at about 4% which means that a lot is yet to be done concerning the deployment of this protocol (Thomson 1998, pp. 4).

There have been the coexistence of the two versions of the protocol and version four being the most basic protocol seems to have most users. The IPv6 forum that was formed in 1999 seems to be geared towards encouraging internet user across the globe to use the IPv6 protocol as well as ensuring its implementation. Some of the users are; manufacturing companies, telecom operators, some consulting companies, the internet solution venders, among other internet service providers. The current status is encouraging and if the rate of growth shall be as predicted, then most of the internet users across the world will be using the IPv6 internet protocol.

Taking the example of the United States, the government had demanded that venders upgrade to the IPv6 version by 2008, a move that would ensure an increase in the implementation of the IPv6 protocol. Much money has been set aside so as to ensure the implementation of the same. In the Canadian case, there has been the development of a tunnel server by Viaginie; a computer networking technology firm. The freenet6.net allows for the connection of the IPv4 to the 6Bone. The achievement of the international connectivity for the IPv6 has been made possible through the native tunnels for the IPv6 over the IPv4. In Japan, the government supports the deployment of the IPv6 hence leading to the improvement of IPv4 service provision. There are various customers who have adopted the IPv6 protocol. Most route venders like Hitachi, Yamaha and NEC have already adopted the protocol. Trials are underway for home appliances and other devices like cameras and sensors. Other areas under which the trials are still underway include cell phones, internet games, cars, trains and even the medical sector.

In China’s case, the government has started an internet project that is geared towards ensuring the implementation of the IPv6 protocol. The Chinese population seems to have very many internet users hence the need to have effective internet protocol services. The 2008 Olympics in China made much use of the Internet protocol. The events were for instance streamed live to the people via the internet using the IPv6 protocol. Surveillance cameras and vehicles also used version six of the protocol which proved to be very effective.

In the case of France, the protocol has been implemented in phases. This began in 2002. It was initiated by France Telkom which is a major telecommunication company in the country. The version has also been implemented in Korea so as to aid businesses in all sectors, speeding up commercialization of the equipment that uses the IPv6, and promote the awareness about the version among the people. The implementation has been in phases and it is expected that in the near future, most sectors will have adapted the IPv6 in all the operations.

Current Uptake of IPv6

The IPv6 has a greater capacity and is able to allow trillions of IP addresses. Unlike the IPv4, it uses 128 bits in comparison to the 32 bits of the IPv4 for data address. There have been predictions for the increase in the number of appliances and devices that use the internet which include the cell phones, traffic lights among others. This demand for the adoption of a protocol that would accommodate a larger traffic and in such a case the IPv6 would be of greater importance than the IPv4. The IPv6 traffic is constantly increasing which implies that more users are adapting the protocol. IPv6 allocation for different countries include Kenya 21, Sudan 4, Tanzania 6, Uganda, Congo 1, South Africa 46, Egypt 9, Canada 195, US 1931, Brazil 3, Kazakhstan 5, Mozambique 1, Iraq 3, Iran 34, Saudi Arabia 20, France 191 and many more. These are just samples of the IPv6 allocation across the country.

The uptake varies from country to country given that most countries still use the IPv4 version as they have not yet upgraded to the IPv6 version. Some countries have not embraced technical developments of the Information Technology hence, having a smaller percentage of the IPv6 allocation. Most countries still have the IPv6 at the infancy stage consequently having a smaller number of its users. Some countries like China and Asia have higher populations coupled with a higher number of internet users thus the need to have an internet protocol that supports such a large number of internet users. Most countries still have less than 1% of internet penetration hence a lower IPv6 allocation. The United States has 0.45 percent of the total IPv6 allocation, the percentage for Norway is 0.49, Ukraine has 0.64 percent allocation, China; 0.24% of the IPv6 implementation while the Russian percentage is 0.76. The implementation is applicable in the commercial, business as well as the home environments. Different governments put varying efforts in the promotion of the IPv6 protocol hence the varying levels of application of the version (Hain 2004, pp. 66).

Business Issues

IPv6 is usually very significant especially in the business sector. Most business enterprises that have most of their activities done online usually prefer the IPv6 so as to enhance effectiveness and speed. Most of the businesses have adopted an infrastructure that supports version six of the internet protocol. Most of the network equipment that has been adopted for businesses is usually compatible with the IPv6 protocol. The internet has been of very great use in the global economy considering that most customers have access to the internet. Most businesses like the IPSs usually depend on the internet to carry out their operations. The internet is very important in any business investment.

The IPv6 has been deployed in the business sector due to the fact that it does not negatively affect the existing infrastructure. The importance of the internet is increasing at a very fast rate and the number of its users is ever growing across the globe. The IPv6 is therefore very important in sustaining such a growth. The IPv6 is very essential in enhancing network transparency. It does not necessarily solve all the internet problems but it provides a good framework for growth.

The IPv6 gives provision for the growth and development of the business. The cost of operation for the IPv6 is less and it is simpler. It is particularly the best for the growing number of internet devices. The network is simple and it enables one to steam video online and do video conferencing as well as carrying web casting which requires that one uses online cameras. The future of internet protocol seems to be depended on version six of the internet protocol and most businesses seem to adopt the same. Most people however still use the IPv4 given that it is the most basic protocol. Most of them have not upgraded their IPv4 to the IPv6 version. Given that most businesses still use the IPv4 versions, most customers have therefore opted to continue using the IPv4 so as to ensure that there is easy compatibility while dealing with the respective business enterprises.

Deployment Strategies and Solutions

With the rising number of internet users, there is need to employ the most effective tactics of managing the same as well as managing the route table growth in particularly among the IPv6 users. To effect the implementation and promotion of the IPv6 version, there is need for promotional activities. Internet users need to be briefed more about the usage of the same, its effectiveness and advantages over the other version. Most governments have tended to pass laws that would ensure the implementation of the same. In some cases for instance, governments have passed laws that demand that IPv6 be the standard version in the implementation of the same. Agencies and companies are therefore forced to upgrade the protocol version to version six. This has also forced most users to upgrade their versions to IPv6.

Incentives can also be used so as to enhance the usage of IPv6. Governments might opt to give incentives and set aside money for the promotion of IPv6. Routing policies need to be enacted so as to limit the number of unnecessary entries into the system. Users also need to be educated on this. The aggregation of routing information has to be along the typological line. This is for the enhancement of the scaling of the routing system across the globe. The network typology must change. Most of them are usually services provider oriented.

Multi-homed organizations have also been a great challenge to the routing system given that they demand a lot of space on the routing system. Each individual section of the organization takes its own space on the routing system hence overloading the system. There is also the challenge posed whenever an organization changes service providers without renumbering the new providers. Using dynamic host addresses might be the best option in such cases.

It would be quite beneficial to have shorter prefixes for those service providers that are regional. Subnets might be provided for larger organizations that are multi-homed. All the involved parties need to follow the route advertisement rules. Responsibility must be taken for the aggregation and configuration of the IPv6. There is need for procedural changes. Several modifications must take place. The growth of the networks needs to be controlled so as to enhance efficiency. The growth of routing table also has to be controlled. Appropriate measures need to be taken so as to enhance the security of the networks. The network has to prevent interruptions cause by third parties and the viruses that would hamper its effectiveness.

Most organizations opt to have multiple upstream connections and this provides redundancy. This provides an alternative whenever one’s connection fails. Despite all these, the address can only be accessible via one route hence the desired redundancy is not attained. Provider independence or even the use of portal address blocks can be the best options for all these. They are not tied to one provider. Surveys might have to be held so as to determine the usage of IPv6 and come up with the best options in boosting the same. The IPv6 version would be the best option given that it allows one to have multiple addresses with multiple service providers. The user is able to add multiple addresses without necessarily invalidating the existing one. This has made the transition from one address to another easier. When a user shifts from a service provider to the other, what is needed is the changing of the prefix part while on the other hand; subnets as well as host address remain the same.

Recommendations

Several recommendations have been made concerning the implementation of the IPv6 version. Some of them are listed below. If these are implemented, then the internet usage would be greatly enhanced:

  • There is need to standardize the mechanism for the translation of IPv4 to IPv6. The translation is especially necessary if, at all the IPv4 address has run out. This would make the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 to be easier.
  • Better tools and infrastructure for the manipulation of IPv6 need to be implemented so as to enhance effectiveness.
  • Those users that use IPv4 have to upgrade their versions to version six considering the fact that they are likely to run out of addresses if their users increased tremendously. There are some services that are only accessible through the IPv6 version hence rendering IPv4 inefficient. With the continued increment in the number of IPv6 users, it might be difficult for the users to use version four.
  • There is need to educate people on the importance and effectiveness of IPv6. This would help in motivating the users to adapt the protocol.
  • There is need for governments to pass policies that are geared towards enhancing the implementation of IPv6. Most agencies and enterprises need be encouraged to adopt version four.
  • Incentives have to be set aside for putting up the IPv6 protocol infrastructure.
  • Measures have to be taken to curb the security pitfalls that the version encounters.
  • The operating systems have to be made in such a way that they have the IPv6 protocol running by default.
  • Most devices have to be configured to the IPv6 version so as to enhance their online effectiveness.

Conclusion

IPv4 version has been used for a long time as the most basic form of the IP protocol version. Many users still use the version. The version has its own limitations especially in reference to the effectiveness and the accommodation of the ever growing number of internet users. The version has also been known to be slower hence the need to have a version that is more effective, faster and able to accommodate a larger number of users. Version 6 seems to be in a position to handle the challenges that are faced by IPv4 given that it is faster, more effective and can accommodate a larger number of internet users. The version allows for multi-homing which is preferred by larger organizations that require several addresses. With increase in the depletion of IPv4 addresses, IPv6 would suffice given that it has greater capacity to accommodate very many IP addresses. It has a more comprehensive security model as compared to version four.

Governments and other agencies have been at the fore front in promoting the implementation of IPv6 in their respective countries. Policies have been passed to the same effect and incentives have been set aside to enhance its use. IPv6 has a relatively lower operation cost when compared to IPv4. Most organizations have opted to upgrade their IPv4 versions to the IPv6 version which has greater compatibility. Many users have not yet adopted the IPv6 version due to the lack of awareness and the fear of incurring extra cost while shifting to version 6. There might be extra infrastructure needed for the full adoption of version 6. Most people are still ignorant of the operations of the IPv6 hence most of them opt to use the IPv4 version which they are familiar with.

NAT has been known to contribute to the network’s security although it is not intended for same. It hides the network typology which might contribute to the security of the system. NAT devices in most cases run on firewall. In some cases however, NAT might complicate the security system. The IPv6 protocol therefore provides the solutions needed to the challenges that version four faces (Perkins 2003).

Business enterprises and other agencies that make use of the internet have adopted the IPv6 given that most of its operations are supported by this model. Several measures have been taken by these users to enhance the transition from version 4 to version 6. Awareness programs are being held to educate people on the benefits of the IPv6 version so as to boost its implementation and use. The policies that are passed to implement IPv6 are usually subject to review. The management and distribution of IPv6 is usually done hierarchically. At the bottom, there are the end users, followed by local internet registries, national and regional internet registries.

The Internet registry classification is usually based on their basic functions as well as their territorial scope within the structure which is usually hierarchical. National internet registries usually allocate the addresses at the national level (Johns 2005).

Local internet registries on the other hand allocate the addresses to its network service users. Statistics have shown that the number of users for the IPv6 users is lower than that of the IPv4 given that fewer users have an idea about the IPv6 version. Most of them stick to the IPv4 version as it is the most basic version of the IP protocol that they are introduced to. They still lack the full knowledge of the IPv6 although it is perceived as the most effective version. The implementation of IPv6 version has to be well managed considering the final effects of the version on other users and the internet as a whole at the present as well as the future. The competing goals must be well managed (Lemon 2006)..

IPv6 enhances effective identification of the end users. Effective registration of the end users is a requirement. The registration of the internet address space in the appropriate registry database usually ensures that trouble shooting is made easier. The registration puts into consideration the privacy and any other law that is applicable.

List of References

Bradner, S. 1993. IP: Next Generation (IPng) White Paper Solicitation. Mankin, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 44-50.

Deering, S. 1998. Version 6 (IPv6) Specification: Internet Protocol, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.22.

Droms, R. 2004.Stateless Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) Service for IPv6, RFC 3736, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 55-59.

Gunderson S. 2008. Measuring the current state of IPv6 for ordinary users. Macmillan: London.

Hain, T. 2004. A Pragmatic Report on IPv4 Address Space Consumption. Cisco Systems, Vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 66.

Johns, L. 2005. Exec: No shortage of Net addresses. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Lemon, T. 2006. Node-specific Client Identifiers for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Version Four (DHCPv4). MacMillan: London.

Perkins, C. 2003. ‘Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for IPv6 (DHCPv6)’, RFC 3315, 2003: 1-3.

Rashid, F. 2010. ‘IPv4 Address Depletion Adds Momentum to IPv6 Transition.’ EWeek.com: 3-6.

Thomson, S. ‘IPv6 Stateless Address Auto configuration.’ RFC 2462, 1998:4-5.

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