Stop using Internet Protocol Version 4!

Four reasons to move entirely to IPv6

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is here for real. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget has set a deadline of Sept. 30 for government agencies to give employees the capability to access the Internet via IPv6. In fact, now is the time for all of us to start thinking about when we should stop using IPv4. Here are the reasons why:

First, we are running out of available IPv4 addresses. According to the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), there was only one last /8 (Class A) IPv4 address block available as of April 25, of which only one /9 IPv4 address block can be possibly allocated to new requests for IPv4 addresses. One estimate suggests that IPv4 addresses in North America will be fully depleted sometime in late 2014 or early 2015. The IPv4 addresses for Asia-Pacific and Europe have already been depleted, in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Second, not only has the U.S. government mandated that all federal agencies start the transition to IPv6, but all vendors wishing to do business with the federal government are required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be in full compliance with IPv6 for all IT-related products and services.

The government is making reasonably good progress. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as of April 25, about 51% of the 3,051 public Web-related services provided by federal agencies had enabled IPv6, and another 4% were in the process of being enabled. Additionally, 32% of the 1,281 federal government .gov domains that NIST currently monitors had enabled IPv6, and another 40% were in the process of completing the IPv6 transition. These numbers will be changing as more agencies come into compliance with the OMB mandate in the coming months. Current status is reported here.

Third, current network infrastructure and computing systems cannot adequately support running both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously.

Currently, it is considered the best practice to deploy IPv6 to run simultaneously with IPv4 in a so-called IPv4-IPv6 dual-stack mode for both network infrastructures and end-user computers. But introducing a second and separate IPv6 stack in the enterprise computing environment will more than double security threats. Moreover, a dual-stack deployment methodology will ultimately overburden the global networking infrastructure, affecting the routing of Internet traffic, as backbone routers struggle to hold and process both IPv4 and IPv6 routing tables simultaneously.

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