How Do You Begin an Upgrade to IPv6?

Upgrading to IPv6 involves changes across a number of sectors of a network and business enterprise. A poorly planned upgrade process can lead to unnecessary and costly disruption. However, there are clear roadmaps for upgrading from IPv4 to IPv6, and a step-by-step guide is offered below.

As the actual IPv6 upgrade begins, acquire a block of IPv6 addresses, which can be used in a IPv6 addressing scheme of your own creation. As you prepare to assign and deploy the addresses, it is advisable that you budget for, create, and actively use a IPv6 lab or “test bench” that closely emulates all your network elements (routers, switches, hosts, OS) to determine the full implications of the upgrade.

  • Step 1: Plan, Inventory and Upgrade.
  • Step 2: Evaluate Existing ISP.
  • Step 3: Obtain IPv6 Address and Test.
  • Step 4: Integrate and Transition.

What Does IPv6 Replace?

IPv6 will replace Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), the dominant IP used today.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6. It was developed to meet the rising global demand for IP addresses and will replace Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), today’s dominant IP. In addition to almost limitless IP addresses, IPv6 offers remarkably more capability in the areas of addressing and routing, security, network address translation, support of mobile devices, and multicasting technologies.

The U.S. federal government has mandated that its IT infrastructure transition to IPv6 by summer of 2008. The complete transition of the world’s networks (and all Internet-linked hardware and software) to IPv6 is inevitable, and it is only a matter of time before IPv4 is obsolete.

What Training is Required to Switch to IPv6?

It is impossible to develop an IPv6 integration plan without understanding the basics of the IPv6 protocol through training by seasoned professionals. Since the initial IPv6 integration of core infrastructure will provide the building blocks for all other integrations and transitions throughout the entire network, proper implementation of IPv6 by trained personnel should not be underestimated. The training phase of an IPv6 integration plan should provide a detailed overview that relevant staff members can master to understand the basics of IPv6 and how it interacts with IPv4 in both dual-stack and tunnel environments. Training should occur well in advance of all the other integration phases and at a minimum it should address the design, implementation, configuration, and maintenance of IPv6 networks.

What’s Wrong with IPv4?

Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is inadequate for the surging demand for Internet connectivity across every aspect of the global economy. IPv4’s IP addresses consist of four numeric sequences separated by periods, e.g. Each numeric sequence contains an 8-bit value, with numbers that can range up to 255. This is also called 32-bit addressing, because each of the four sequences contains 8 bits. The new IPv6 employs a 128-bit IP address schema, and IPv6 addresses consist of eight sections — each containing a 16-bit value. The number of IP addresses possible with this 128-bit scheme is equal to approximately 3.5×1038.

Who Decided to Switch to IPv6?

In 1991, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) recognized that the Internet would outgrow IPv4. In early 1999, IETF created the IPv6 Forum to address the pending shortage of IP addresses and other limitations of IPv4. Four years later, a new Protocol was made ready for general availability. In mid-2004, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that the root DNS servers for the Internet had been modified to support both IPv6 and IPv4 (called “dual stack”). During this time, the United States Government mandated that its IT infrastructure be upgraded to the IPv6 for all civilian and defense vendors by summer 2008.

Why Switch to IPv6?

Even after all of the arguments for an IPv6 transition are spelled out, the fact of the matter is that IPv4 is being phased out. Any forward-looking organization must convert to IPv6 if it intends to maintain a secure, optimized connection to the Internet. IPv6 not only allows for practically limitless IP addresses, but it offers remarkably more capability in these areas:

Addressing and Routing

IPv6’s extremely large capacity for addresses lends connectivity to many more electronic devices including mobile phones, laptops, in-vehicle computers, televisions, cameras, building sensors, medical devices, etc.


The security for IPv6 comes in the form of IPsec, which allows authentication, encryption, and compression. IPv6 also possesses capabilities for packet integrity that IPv4 does not offer. Indeed, IPv6 mandates that security be provided through information encryption and source authentication.

Address Auto-Configuration

IPv6 auto-configures new equipment to communicate with the network once it is detected, which means devices are ready to use on demand. Auto-configuration enables plug-and-play.

Administrative Workload

IPv6 improves communication and eliminates the need for network address translation (NAT) through its automated configuration capabilities.

Support for Mobile Devices

IPv6 hosts are not restricted by location. The mobility comes in the form of Mobile IP, which allows devices to roam among different networks without losing their established IP addresses.

Multicast Technologies

IPv6 allows multicast technologies to optimize media-streaming applications, allowing timely video feeds and quality-rich information to be easily distributed to millions of locations.

Will IPv6 be Compatible with IPv4?

Changing from Protocols means changing dozens of other conventions, ranging from how IP addresses are stored in DNS (domain name system) and applications to how datagrams are sent and routed over Ethernet, PPP, Token Ring, FDDI, and every other medium. However, there are standards and protocols and procedures for the coexistence of IPv4 and IPv6, such as tunneling IPv6 in IPv4, running IPv4 and IPv6 on the same system (“dual stack”) for an extended period of time and mixing and matching the two protocols in a variety of environments. Even though IPv6 is compatible with IPv4, the transition from the current IP addressing scheme to IPv6 may take years. But the transition is inevitable.