Mobile Devices Provide Incentive to Support IPv6

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-06-05 Print this article Print

The most obvious difference is that the dotted decimal address you€™re used to seeing, like the ubiquitous that is the default address of virtually every router ever made. Now the address looks different because the numbers are separated by colons, and some numbers will be left out if they€™re not needed to define the address. You€™ll also notice that the numbers are longer, and probably harder to memorize. You might need to actually have an IP address management plan when you change over to IPv6.

But change over you will. While the internal networks of many organizations will likely remain IPv4 networks for a very long time, the outside world is changing to IPv6. The parts of your network that connect to the Internet will eventually have to support IPv6, even though your internal network won€™t need to change right away. But one way or another, you€™ll need to learn the new system if only because you€™ll need it to talk to the outside world.

You€™ll also need to be familiar with IPv6 because your mobile devices may be using it when they€™re in the outside world. Mobile devices are the real reason that IPv6 is needed if only because there are so many of them. When you add in all of the machines with machine-to-machine communications, smart devices ranging from DVD players to refrigerators to things such as printers, the world has already run out of IPv4 addresses. But because of the billions of mobile devices that need data, and thus IP addresses, the address space needed to increase and that€™s why we€™re moving to IPv6.

You can test devices on your network to see if they and the network they€™re on will work with IPv6 by going to the IPv6 Test site. That site will provide a report that will show if you have any places that don€™t fully support IPv6 so you can fix them. As to whether you should convert your network to IPv6, the answer is fairly simple. Don€™t rush.

The first thing you have to do is find out if you€™re already supporting IPv6 and just didn€™t realize it. If you aren€™t, and chances are that you€™re not, then start in small steps. While IPv6 is well proven, your network isn€™t. So you need to make sure each step works before taking the next. But over time the change is inevitable, so it will pay dividends to be ready on your schedule instead of someone else€™s.

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Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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