IoT proliferation and the 5G new paradigm are stressing the need for Telcos to deploy IPv6 at an unseen scale on their public infrastructures. At the same time, in the context of private networks, enterprises could face the need to move faster from IPv4 coexistence to IPv6 migration in order to simplify service deployment at scale.
IP address is required for every device
Nowadays, and even more so in the future, any device is expected to have an IP address associated. It can be piloted for providing service, or it can offer valuable information at a time where data is key. However, we all know that public internet IPv4 addresses are no longer available, with those on the waiting list being served only when an address range owner gives back part of it to the community. So what should be done to meet the demand?
IPv4 cannot cope with IoT or 5G
For additional IP addresses, IPv6 is the obvious solution, it’s well known and deployed in some areas where regulation has pushed towards its implementation, though mainly limited to parts of the internet – 25% of top traffic websites are accessible through IPv6. In corporate networks, IPv4 and private addressing currently still suffices, and changing to a full IPv6 network is seen, for now, as bringing little business value. Artifacts have been developed to bring IPv4 to the next level (such as NAT, CGNAT or TLS SNI), pushing away the imperious need to migrate to a much wider addressing plan. However, very soon this is likely to be insufficient, due to the explosion of connected devices on the corporate network.
In the meantime, how will service providers cope with all those IoT and new devices that need to be connected as well as the ubiquity of the IP protocol? 4G LPWA networks can support around 60 thousand devices every square kilometer, whereas 5G will be required to support 1 million. As an example, Paris is around 105 km² for 2.2 millions inhabitants, meaning 5G can support around 50 devices per inhabitant. That seems quite enough for imaginable future usages.
That would mean the network is quite ready to handle such device number explosion, we are talking about 5.8 billion endpoints in 2020 (source Gartner) but not all are yet IP-capable. What about IP addressing for all these devices, as well as the ones which will be installed in the future – at a rate of 1.7 billion devices per year attaching to enterprise networks in 2023 (source: Gartner 2019 Strategic Roadmap for IoT Network Technology)? It’s certain that IPv4 and all the current artifacts will not be enough, for both telcos and enterprises. We can potentially develop new artifacts, and new access protocols with gateway acting as proxy, but this will be complex.
Make IPv6 transition risk-free with DDI
Today, most applications are able to handle IP traffic, whether it is based on version 4 or 6 of the protocol, and in the near future most IoT devices will natively support IP protocol. The main migration issue is the fact that almost nothing is ready at the enterprise level. IPv6 is not enabled on the interconnection network, security equipment is mostly handling IPv4 only, and employees aren’t yet trained to think v6, mainly because up to now the business value has not been made evident. But with the advent of BYoD and connected devices, there will almost certainly be a necessity to change.
Hopefully companies can start today to prepare themselves for the inevitable v6 transition that will be imposed upon them, ideally by leveraging IPAM (IP Address Management) as part of a DDI (DNS-DHCP-IPAM) solution. Smart DDI, such as the one provided by EfficientIP, can help transition towards IPv6 without “breaking” anything. With EfficientIP SOLIDserver DDI you can easily create a new space and build totally independent v4 and v6 networks, IP addresses and devices in order to envisage how the next network will look like. If you still don’t have an IPv6 public range, the fc00::/7 range is available to play with. Being equivalent to RFC1918 private addresses, it has enough depth to create even the largest implementation.
How to proceed?
When thinking about your next IPv6 enabled network and services, we recommend the following plan:
- Recognize IPv6 as an I&O challenge including technical and human transformation
- Start building an IPv6 center of excellence for all the pillars of the IT infrastructure and applications
- IPv6 strategies should be split between public internet presence, user access networks, data center networks and specialty networks such as IoT
- Presence on internet is critical, managing DNS records (AAAA) for web sites, API endpoints and exposed services is mandatory
- For internal networks, an inventory of IPv6 capable equipment and applications will help start implementing the double stack, DNS will play the pivot for each resource whether available only in v4 or also in v6 (Gartner quote in Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking: “Expect to support both IPv6 and IPv4 through at least 2024”)
- Evaluate security impact (supervision, audit, NAC, zero trust, filtering, DMZ resources…)
- Use IPAM to start building the IPv6 address plan and phase implementation on network, interconnection and services. End devices are mostly ready at this time
- Deploy specific DNS or views for testing purposes on IPv6 resolution
IPv6 Needs Smart IPAM
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