New Internet Protocol
The Internet Protocol (IP) was introduced to the Internet (ARPANET) in the 1970s. The main responsibility of the Internet protocol is addressing the hosts and routing datagram also know as packets from a host such as a source to another host such as the destination. The Internet protocol does so across one or several IP networks. The IP version commonly used at the moment is the IP version 4 (IPv4). However, there have been several proposals over the past years to replace IPv4, but none has succeeded because of the protocol’s installed, large, and continually expanding base. Notwithstanding that fact, IPv4 is limited to the Internet that is in use today regarding some hosts, security, and types of applications.
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is Internet protocol found at the network layer. The protocol helps in the data communication over a packet switched network. IPv6 is the evolution version of IPv4 as opposed to changing IPv4 radically. The developers of IPv6 carried some of the useful features of IPv4 over to the IPv6. Additionally, the dropped the less useful features. According to the specifications of IPv6, the changes that were done to the IPv4 are the strong benefits of IPv6 and include the following (Winter, 2012):
- Expansion in addressing capabilities
- Simplification of the header format
- Enhanced support for both extensions and header options
- Capability of flow labeling
- Capable of authentication and privacy
Figure 1: Growth of IPv6
IPv4 is referred to as the backbone of the modern Internet. However, the development of IPv6 is meant to replace IPv4 partly because of the advantages discussed above. For this reason, IPv6 has become to be known as the next generation Internet. It has expanded its capabilities beyond the capabilities of IPv4 and its continuously growing as shown by the recent global deployments. IPv6 was first deployed in Asia before some of the current deployments followed suit. IPv6 has been necessitated by the explosive growth of mobile computing devices and wireless handheld devices thus creating the need for more blocks of IP addresses. IPv4 can only support 232 which translate to 4.3 billion addresses as compared to IPv6 2128 addresses (Vanaubel et al., 2016).
There are concerns and impacts associated with migration and transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6. One of the impacts is the cost which includes monetary assets, personnel, and time. The shift from IPv4 to IPv6 will take all the three. However, it will take more personnel and time than monetary. Organizations and individuals will be impacted by investing a large amount of time in planning to finish the transition project as quickly as possible and ensuring that everything has worked according to the initial plans. The organizations and individuals will also be impacted regarding money invested. Monetary costs are going to include servers and other new equipment which should be carefully considered. However, migration from IPv4 to IPv6 should concentrate on personnel and time because they will significantly impact on the deployment. Transitioning to IPv6 also involves complexity. All the departments of an organization will be involved in the transitioning as well as equipment connected to the organization’s network at any time. Other impacts likely are the compatibility of the equipment with IPv6 and the process of clearing IPv4 out (Wu et al., 2013).
Both IPv6 and IPv4 have similar structures. Most of the transport layer Internet protocols working with IPv4 also work well with IPv6. Additionally, most of the application layer Internet protocols are easily interoperable with IPv6 except the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) which uses embedded network layer IP addresses thus facilitating the transmission of data. As has been seen previously, the main benefit of IPv6 is added address space. This means that the transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6 will avail organizations and individuals to an almost limitless number of IP addresses. Additionally, the size of the space of the IPv6 reduces its vulnerabilities to attacks through malicious activities like the IP scanning. Furthermore, its packets have immense capabilities of supporting a larger payload as compared to IPv4. This results in an increased throughput and efficiency in the way it transports packets.
A significant improvement of IPv6 over IPv4 is that it supports mobile computing devices natively. It has introduced a protocol known as Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6) which allows mobile computing devices to switch freely between networks as well as receive roaming notification without considering their physical locations. MIPv6 is the main identification of IPv6 and became the requirement when IPv6 was being designed. However, the mobile computing protocol has separate specifications that detail its data structures, security requirements, and messaging. IPv6 has also been embedded with IP Authentication Header (RFC 1826) mechanism. The mechanism is an extension header which improves its integrity and authentication for the IP packets. It also has the IP Encapsulating Security Payload (RFC 1827) mechanism capable of improving its integrity and confidentiality for the IP packets. The two mechanisms add to the security capabilities of its IP traffic and reduction in the security effort. Therefore, IPv6 has secure communications and packet transmissions even if there are no security firewalls in the network (Thaler et al., 2012).
The migration from IPv4 to IPv6 promises improvement in security, tighter security, easier administration, improved addressing scheme in comparison to the IPv4. Some of the costs and time estimates made by NIST for migration to IPv6 is the requirement for the upgrading of the hardware and software the organizations use their Internet provisioning networks together with their internal networks. According to NIST, service providers will incur close to US$125 million to upgrade their customer-facing networks and a further US$ 16 million for upgrading their internal networks. There are other costs of training, network testing, network management software, network performance maintenance, and installation efforts among many others. The transitioning may take up to five years after laying down the foundation. However, it is unclear when the full transition will occur. Most of the time and cost made by NIST have been born out although they are less costly. The advantages of transitioning to IPv6 as discussed above are clear indication that IPv6 is worth all the effort.
This paper has discussed new Internet protocol referred to as IPv6. It has also shown the advantages of the protocol compared to the current IPv4. According to the benefits the transition brings, it can be seen that IPv6 is the next generation Internet which organizations and individuals should implement as fast as they can. However, there is information relating to the protocol which should be researched in the future research.
Thaler, D., Draves, R., Matsumoto, A., & Chown, T. (2012). Default address selection for internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). Internet Engineering Task Force.
Vanaubel, Y., Mérindol, P., Pansiot, J. J., & Donnet, B. (2016). A Brief History of MPLS Usage in IPv6. Lecture Notes in Computer Science.
Winter, T. (2012). RPL: IPv6 routing protocol for low-power and lossy networks.
Wu, P., Cui, Y., Wu, J., Liu, J., & Metz, C. (2013).Transition from IPv4 to IPv6: A state-
of-the-art survey. Communications Surveys & Tutorials, IEEE, 15(3), 1407-1424.