Cisco announced new products and services to help enterprises migrate their existing IPv4 infrastructure to the next-generation IPv6 standard.
Cisco added IPv6-specific features to its routers and switches to make it easier to deploy and manage dual-stack environments, the company said May 24. The new capabilities address the challenges organizations face to "unify" IPv4 and IPv6 across networks, software and applications, Cisco said.
The available pool of IPv4 addresses was exhausted in February when the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) parceled out the last remaining blocks of IPv4 addresses to the individual regional Internet registries. As each region runs through their remaining allocation, enterprises need to transition to the IPv6 protocol to ensure long-term business continuity.
The differences in the protocols means computers with IPv4 addresses cannot communicate with machines with IPv6 addresses. If a user's computer has an IPv4 address from its Internet service provider, that user will not be able to access a Web page that's on a server with an IPv6 address, and vice-versa.
Enterprises need to ensure their Websites, customer portals and online services are accessible to new users and mobile devices as they come online with IPv6 addresses or miss out on the business.
Cisco added support for the Location/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) on its routers and switches, which will automate the creation and modification of IPv6 over IPv4 tunnels that are used under the dual-stack configuration. The tunnel encapsulates IPv6 traffic coming from a machine with a IPv6 address assigned so that it can travel over the existing IPv4 network infrastructure and reach servers and Websites that are on the IPv6 Internet.
Dual-stack is a "transition" technology and allows customers to take advantage of existing systems while still making the move to IPv6, said Mark Townsley, a distinguished engineer from Cisco.
Cisco ASR 1000 series router platforms now have NAT64 support that allows IPv6 devices to access IPv4 servers. The network access translation layer allows organizations to deploy IPv6 networks alongside existing IPv4 servers and have them talk to each other, according to Cisco.
Customers will be able to roll out "IPv6 alongside IPv4 in a strategic manner," Townsley said.
The company also added IPsec v2 onto its Cisco ISR G2 routers to give organizations the ability to deploy IPv6-based virtual private networks. The First Hop Security service offers IPv6 access security in dual-stack environments.
Finally, smart analytics capabilities have been added to the Cisco Network Optimization Service to provide graphic diagnostic insight into the network. The service also provides an IPv6-device readingess assessment for the enterprise. Customers will be able to optimize network health during and after the migration, according to Cisco.
Organizations are also thinking about security while rolling out IPv6, according to a recent Cisco survey. In an April survey of 101 senior IT executives, 92 percent said their security teams were involved in the transition project. About 60 percent of the respondents reported they were concerned about the transition introducing security vulnerabilities in their environment.
Cisco and F5 Networks were among the networking vendors who collaborated to deploy several IPv6-capable networks supporting over 15,000 attendees and 400 exhibitors at the recent Interop show in Las Vegas. InteropNet was the first end-to-end trade show network to provide both IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity.