It has been well documented that the Internet protocol used today is running out of addresses and must transition to IPv6. In fact, it is now official in Asia. You can delay support, but in the end it will be mandatory if you want an Internet presence. What is not so well publicized is the tremendous number of business and technical advantages beyond a near infinite address space. New features range from security to RDP to quality of service and can be either categorized as “net-new” or those that overcome IPv4 headaches. Here are just a few of the reasons to start the move beyond avoiding having to share business and personal IP addresses with your boss.

Nifty new capabilities in IPv6:

  • The advanced protocol brings IPSec front and center to the Internet. This encryption method is fully supported and is mandatory for all IPv6 devices. IPv4 had no such integrated capability and IPSec and Point-to-Point tunneling protocols had be to be bolted on. With IPv4 you need Network Address Translation (NAT), but that can wreak havoc with IPSec and require workarounds.
  • New plug-and-play features such as auto configuration and “anycast” address support allow you to deploy numerous IP-enabled devices without the need for configuration.
  • Quality of service has been much talked about and theoretically there is header space to allow some rudimentary form within IPv4. IPv6 includes a “Flow Label” capability for true QoS. Now resources can be optimally allocated. Flow label enables sources to send requests for special handling of packets. This mechanism is useful in real-time audio and video transmissions.
  • Security is enhanced in IPv6 by allowing extensions for authentication and confidentiality. No such support is available in IPv4.

Elimination of cumbersome IPv4 requirements:

  • To guarantee a local address for users, IPv4 uses the venerable Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).) Often times there are more than one DHCP server with conflicting domains and reboots can result in differing addresses. IPv6 uses the MAC address in the network portion of the address for simplification, uniqueness and elimination of DHCP. This also expands auto configuration methods. The host provides the lower 64 bits of address based on MAC with the router providing the upper 64 bits for straight forward address generation.
  • Finding a local router in IPv4 also requires DHCP. Neighbor Discover Protocol (NDP) is integrated into IPv6 to simplify the process and further obsolete DHCP.
  • NAT is critical in allowing the limited IPv4 address space to work. Once IPv6 is fully implemented, this technique can be eliminated and customized services can be offered. Services could then be directly targeted at a specific user with a unique address. Similarly NAT’s interference with unified communications that depend on SIP, VoIP and virtual room videoconferencing systems (VRVS) can be avoided.
  • Ease of routing through header simplification. IPv6 provides a fixed length header of 40 bytes. With no need for routers to guess where the header starts and ends, packets can be routed mush faster with lower latency. In addition IPv6 options are separated from the base header and inserted into the base header only when required by the upper-layers.

Citrix NetScaler fully supports complete IPv6 infrastructures as well as translation between IPv4 and IPv6 networks during the interim. You can learn what it takes to convert to IPv6 and how NetScaler fits in by attending the Forrester webinar. For additional insight, the Citrix white paper “A Pragmatic Guide to Moving to IPv6” can be downloaded here.