How to get IPv6, now

February 23, 2011 - 2 Comments

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know by now that the IPv4 address pool is exhausted and you need to start using IPv6.  In fact, you may even be convinced.   How can you get your network connected to the growing IPv6 capable Internet, ideally in time for World IPv6 Day

Start with your Internet service provider (ISP).  Although not every ISP currently provides IPv6 service, the list grows in proportion to customer demand.  Free, Comcast, and Softbank are just some examples of prominent ISPs who have large scale public IPv6 trials and rollouts.  Even if your ISP has not announced an IPv6 plan, contact them.  You might be able to become early adopter on an unannounced trial.

In the event that your provider has not yet seized the opportunity to provide IPv6 service, you can seek out a public tunnel broker, a service that allows you to “tunnel” IPv6 packets across an IPv4-only connection to the IPv6 capable Internet.  A number of tunnel broker providers like Hurricane Electric, SixXS and Freenet6 provide tunneling points of presence at many locations worldwide and will gladly issue an IPv6 prefix (or several!) for no charge.  Some tunnel brokers will even provide a BGP feed.  This is an excellent way to start gaining experience with IPv6 connectivity in your network.

While ISP provided IPv6 access and Tunnel Brokers provide superior predictability and reliability, some people still advocate using the 6to4 transition mechanism based on its ease of configuration.  6to4 can automatically calculate a 48-bit IPv6 prefix for your network based on its current global IPv4 address and a number of consumer grade routers have this functionality built in.  But be wary: the deceptive simplicity of configuration masks the risks of relying on gateways managed by third parties, leaving you and your users dependent on both the benevolence and competence of those parties.  6to4 connectivity tends to have problems and those problems pollute statistics about overall IPv6 reliability.

If you have no plans to start running IPv6 in your own network, you may still be able to provide IPv6 visible content using a content distribution network (CDN) provider like Limelight Networks or Akamai to project a phantom IPv6 presence.  In that situation, servers at the CDN provide IPv6 connectivity to requestors and translate the connections into IPv4 to reach your servers without any changes to your current network.  

So contact your ISP today or set up an account with a tunnel broker. Ask your CDN about their support plans for IPv6. Establish connectivity and start building your expertise.  As always, you can take your IPv6 questions to the World IPv6 Day – IPv6 Transition support forum or engage the Cisco Services organization for additional assistance.

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  1. As 25 years on IT. I hear this every year. I think IPv6 is around 30 years? And never happen. Almost every majot OS is IPv6 compatible but ISP´s denies to took the technology. As living in México I think if takes another decade to think well the situation. The technogy internally in the enterprises is not a problem the problem is with ISP´s providers!