Gearing up for network ubiquity


The Internet has experienced a tremendous growth in the
past three decades, evolving from a network of a few hundred  hosts 
to a platform connecting billions of things” across the globe including
people, enterprises and devices. The growth of the Internet shows no signs of
slowing down and has steadily created a new pervasive paradigm in computing and
communications.

 

The advent  of  next 
generation  communications  technologies 
and  rapid  digitization 
has  impacted organizations and
consumers alike. As we embrace the digital revolution and move to an all-IP
world, communications would encompass a large variety of consumers-to-devices
and increasingly device-to- device communications, making it extremely
important that internet protocols (IP) also evolve to the next level. However,
most operators and businesses still rely on IPv4 addresses  which have already been exhausted. Service
providers and large enterprises cannot afford to ignore this problem and should
plan for an IPv6 migration, sooner rather than later, to ensure business
continuity requirements.At worst they may find themselves having to invest
heavily in a hurried IPv6 transition – at a time when revenues are declining
because of stiff competition.

 

This paper describes the need for IPv6, the benefits it
can provide and how important it is to take a holistic view on migrating to
IPv6 from a business continuity perspective.


The need fot iPV6

The unprecedented growth of the Internet, combined  with the growing demand for ubiquitous data
based services has set the stage for a digital economy whose potential we are
just beginning to explore. Not many had 
anticipated the exponential growth of connected devices, social media
and e-commerce, and the 4 billion plus addresses IPv4 could provide seemed a
massive figure, until a few years ago. However, in February 2011, the Internet
Assigned Numbers Authority


Although, a 
number  of alternative measures
are utilized to increase the shelf-life of IPv4, the challenges are not just
limited to the depletion of addresses; rather 
it  represents  numerous 
other  scalability, security  and complexity issues.

 

 Complexity

For years, Internet experts and regulatory bodies
have  warned about the impending
exhaustion of IPv4’s limited pool of addresses and it is only the widespread
use of Network Address Translation (NAT) that has prolonged  IPv4’s shelf-life. NAT allows a single
publicly accessible address to be shared between multiple, private (i.e.
non-routable on the Internet), IPv4 addresses. However, NAT profoundly
complicates Device-to-Device (D2D) communications, which is an increasingly
important aspect of Internet collaboration.

 

Scalability

As the exponential growth of data based services,
Internet and connected devices had not been anticipated, IPv4 was not designed
to support billions of devices on such a large scale. Although there are
multiple ways of increasing the addresses IPv4 can support, this adds to the
complexity and any further tailoring of IPv4 would only add to its
inefficiency.


In the interim, Large Scale NAT (LSN) may be required to
ensure business continuity. While this temporary solution will allow more
devices and services to connect to the existing IPv4 Internet, the result will
be even more breakage in the fundamental end-to-end principle of network
design. This will lead to more complexity and troubleshooting requirements
resulting in higher  operational
expenses. Moreover, LSN also impacts the cost per bit due to sub- optimal
routing. This will also  complicate the
requirements of intercepting 
traffic  by   law 
enforcement  agencies  as 
private addresses are reused in multiple parts of the network resulting
in more efforts to trace malicious users. 
As a result of this, it is possible that law enforcement agencies could
resist the  use of carrier grade NAT.

 

Security


Lack of inherent security and authentication mechanisms
is another intimidating issue with IPv4. On the other hand, IPv6 was designed
with the consideration of potential security challenges; hence, it
intrinsically supports end-to-end encryption.Whereas, this security feature has
been retrofitted into IPv4, making it an optional feature that  is still not used universally.   In addition, encryption  and integrity-checking presently utilized for
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)  is  a 
standard  component  in 
IPv6,  supported  by  all
compatible devices, available for all connections. IPv6 also supports the  Secure 
Neighbor  Discovery  (SEND) 
protocol  capable  of enabling cryptographic confirmation to
validate the true identity of a  host
during the connection. This renders Address 
Resolution Protocol   (ARP)   spoofing  
and   other   naming-based   attacks extremely difficult.  Although, this is not a true replacement for
application – or  service-layer
verification, it still offers a much improved level of security for
connections. In contrast, it’s fairly easy for a hacker to redirect traffic
between two legitimate hosts in IPv4 
networks, making  the  connections 
more  vulnerable  to manipulations.

 

Benefits of IPv6

 

IPv6 offers numerous advantages over its predecessor IPv4
and many operators have already realized this and started migrating to IPv6.
Although the pace of transition  is slow,
the benefits IPv6 offers,makes it the only viable option to realize the true potential
of an all-IP digital world.

 

MassiveAddress Space


IPv6 uses 128 bit addresses versus just 32 bits for IPv4
– producing a staggeringly large address space.There is a theoretical maximum
of 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses. But, in practice there is less because some
addresses are reserved for special purposes and the IPv4 address allocation
process was inefficient and wasteful. IPv6 has, in stark contrast, ~340  trillion trillion trillion (or 340
undecillion) addresses. To put this in perspective, while there are not enough
IPv4 addresses to give every human being alive a unique address, it has been
estimated that there are enough IPv6 
addresses to allocate approximately 10 addresses to every single atom in
every single human being alive today!

 

Routing Efficiency


IPv6 reduces the size of routing tables and makes routing
more efficient and hierarchical. IPv6 allows ISPs to aggregate the prefixes of
their customers’ networks into a single prefix and announce this prefix  to 
the  IPv6  Internet. 
In   addition,  in 
IPv6  networks, fragmentation is
handled by  the source device, rather
than the router, using a  protocol for
discovery of the path’s maximum transmission unit (MTU).

 

More Efficient Packet Processing


IPv6’s simplified packet header makes packet
processing  more efficient. Compared with
IPv4, IPv6 contains no IP-level checksum, so it does not need to be  recalculated at every router hop. Getting rid
of the IP-level checksum was possible because most link-layer technologies
already contain checksum and error-control capabilities. In  addition, most  transport 
layers, which  handle end-to-end  connectivity, have  a 
checksum  that  enables 
error detection.

 

Multi-cast Support


Multi-casting, the transmission of a packet to multiple
destinations in a single send operation, is part of the base specification in
IPv6. In  IPv4  this 
is  an  optional 
feature,  although  it  is  commonly implemented. With this feature built
into IPv6 it allows the use of multi-cast for connectivity to other hosts in
the subnet using Link Local addresses.This enables hosts to process only those
packets that are crucial. Though Multi-cast Addresses are available, IANA has
not assigned multicast to any addresses as yet. Hence inter domain multicast
routing is not possible. This means that video transmitted across the Internet
has to be delivered in unicast mode. This is particularly inefficient when many
destination addresses call for the same content. For example, President Obama’s
inaugural address in January 2009 was streamed live over the Internet at a rate
of a few hundred kilobits per second. Millions of Internet users simultaneously
tried to access the stream and crashed the servers – they  simply 
could  not  handle 
the  spike  in 
traffic2.  Had  the Presidential address been multi-casted
instead, there would have been no issue no matter how many people accessed the
stream. The key demand driver for Internet bandwidth today and in the
foreseeable  future  is 
video. The  global  Internet 
video  traffic surpassed global
peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic in 2010, and is expected to account for over 50
percent of consumer internet traffic by 20123, further accentuating the need for IPv6. It has an
extremely large  block  of 
addresses  allocated  to 
multicasting  and  these addresses are routable over the public
Internet. Hence IPv6 opens the possibility of practically anyone becoming a
broadcaster, able to do so from anywhere.

 

StatelessAddressAuto-configuration


This feature of IPv6 Protocol enables hosts to configure
themselves automatically when connected to a routed  IPv6 network using Internet Control Message
Protocol version 6 (ICMPv6) routers discovery messages. When first connected to
a network, a host sends a link-local 
router solicitation multicast request for its configuration parameters;
if configured suitably, routers respond to such a request with a router
advertisement packet that contains network-layer configuration parameters.This
provides a significant advantage for re-numbering hosts on a subnet.


IPv6 the Enabler for The Internet of Things”


All forms of electronic communications including video
and voice will continue to migrate to IP. This means that network operators,
such as cable providers, will need to replace billions of dollars’ worth  of 
infrastructure  in  the 
coming  years  with 
IP-based technology and favorably IPv6 to take it to the next level.


In an IPv6 world, all devices will be capable of  communicating directly with each other
through a unified and converged Internet because of more than sufficient
address space that will allow each device 
a  unique  address, or 
even  multiple  unique 
addresses. Currently,  NAT impedes
this innovation from translating into reality. For instance, with IPv6 an
individual’s doorbell could send pictures and audio of a house caller to them
in their office and they could talk back and maybe even open the door or not.


With practically unlimited addresses available, IPv6 will
make this much easier because each device, or each  component of each device, can have its own
IPv6 address and can communicate with any server without the need to go through
a NAT device. The promise of direct 
device-to-device communications opens the practical possibility for many
other new applications many of which have been touted as part of an, any
device, anytime, from anywhere mantra for the past decade but which can only
truly be realized with IPv6.


Enterprises, service providers and manufacturers
that  establish themselves as market
leaders will benefit from  the first
mover advantage as the demand for IPv6 compatible services, networks and
technology explodes.

IPv6 and IPv4 protocols are fundamentally incompatible
creating multiple challenges during IPv6 migration – although they can both
exist on the same physical network at the same time, it creates complexity and
numerous migration challenges.

Key chalienges in iPV6 migration


IPv6 and IPv4 are two completely separate protocols  and 
IPv6 is not backward compatible, which means an inability to perform
automated   translation   within  
the   network   to  
preserve comprehensive 
any-to-any  connectivity  during 
the  transition. In simple words,
they cannot talk to each other without a translator or  an 
extra  layer  that 
helps  them  coexist. While  developing IPv6 it was envisioned that
devices and network backbones would operate both IPv4 and IPv6 utilizing
dual-stack mode. This is true for most devices and networks which are embedded
with dual stack capability; however, the 
backward incompatibility of IPv6 means some IPv4 devices can never be
upgraded to IPv6, and all – IPv6 
networks cannot communicate with IPv4 – only  devices or content. In addition, this means
companies planning for an IPv6 transition need to carefully plan the migration
path which may also include replacing a number of their IPv4 only systems.This
is a big hurdle and requires intensive planning keeping in mind the overall
infrastructure

 

Conclusion

 

In  conclusion, the  pace 
of  growth of  connected 
devices  and Internet makes the
transition to IPv6 for communication service providers and enterprises
inevitable. It is also clear that IPv4 and IPv6 will coexist in the immediate
future making things be more difficult to manage and further delaying IPv6
migration. However, the bigger challenge for service providers and large
enterprises will be to draw an appropriate roadmap for IPv6 migration, keeping
in mind their business continuity needs and strategic goals.


The large scale adoption of IPv6 will not only make the
Internet more efficient and secure, it will also act as an enabler for a truly
digital world, opening new revenue sources and facilitating new revenue models.

[email protected]

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