The key takeaway of this chapter is that IPv6 represents an evolution of IP, not a revolution. Its development reflects the lessons learned from IPv4 and the requirements of today's Internet. The primary benefit comes from increased resources, not from radical protocol changes, as sometimes claimed. The original design goals of the new protocol were also very specific about enabling a smooth transition over the years and facilitating a long-term coexistence of IPv4 and IPv6.


The commonly asked questions related to IPv6 that were answered in this chapter are summarized in Table 2-4. They provide a realistic perspective on the protocol.

Table 2-4 Summary of Commonly Asked IPv6 Questions


Is IPv4 running out of addresses?

Are NAT benefits lost when moving to IPv6?

Is IPv6 improving routing?

Will the size of the Internet routing table be a problem for networking equipment?

Does IPv6 support multihomed sites?

Does IPv6 deliver plug-and-play autoconfiguration?

Does IPv6 offer better QoS? Is IPv6 required for mobility? Does IPv6 provide increased security? Is renumbering easier with IPv6?


Yes. Current estimates indicate this will occur between 2010 and 2012.

No. Even though NAT is not available, its true or perceived benefits can be implemented in IPv6.

No. Routing protocols for IPv6 are equivalent to their IPv4 counterparts.

No. New generations of routers can handle the growth of the Internet routing tables.

Yes. At protocol level, IPv6 can implement multihoming in the same way as IPv4. Challenges might be due to allocation policies.

Yes. IPv6 offers unique autoconfiguration mechanisms.

No. At this time, the IPv6 and IPv4 QoS implementations are similar.

No. However, IPv6 does implement improvements to the Mobile IP protocols.

No. Most security threats and mitigation policies are similar to IPv4.

Yes. Some IPv6 features simplify renumbering; however, they do not address all aspects of renumbering.

As discussed, the IPv4 address space cannot sustain the growing number of Internet users and the many new ways in which the Internet is facilitating today's communications. This evolution was not envisioned by the initial developers of the TCP/IP protocol suite. The only real option to address the growth pressures faced by IP is IPv6, and the case for its adoption is made in this chapter. Although IPv6, similar to IPv4, is a live and evolving protocol, it has already reached the level of maturity needed for safe, large-scale deployments. In recognition of a need for IPv6, organizations worldwide are already deploying it or aggressively planning its deployment.

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The Economy of an IP Evolution

Over the past two decades, the Internet has become an integral part of our lives. Regardless of whether we see it as a source of knowledge or a source of entertainment, regardless of whether we experience it at work, via home broadband access in San Francisco, California, or in a tiny Internet café in New Delhi, India, we are aware of "the Internet." Most everyone can carry a conversation about one facet or another of this palpably vast resource.

The development of the Internet is one of the most successful examples of technology incubation and its rapid commercialization. It is an example of optimal collaboration between academia, government, and industry to create a new, open environment for the continued development and management of an information and communications resource. Its return on investment surpassed all expectations and is a testament to the value of government's sustained investment in fundamental and applied research. To put things in perspective, it took radio 38 years to attract 50 million listeners, it took television 13 years to attract 50 million viewers, and it took the Internet just 4 years to have 50 million users.1

The premise of the Internet started in 1962 with a series of memos by J. C. R. Licklinder on his vision of the "Galactic Network,"2 a name that seems amazingly appropriate 46 years later. With the financial support of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the first network, ARPANET, was initiated on October 29, 1969. Used for the exchange of scientific data, this infrastructure led to the development of a new protocol, the Internet Protocol (IP). It replaced the original communications protocol used on ARPANET on January 1, 1983. Today's worldwide environment composed of infrastructure and information resources, the environment we call "the Internet," is operating with the help of IP. Although most people seem to be aware of the Internet, the fact that their favorite applications such as the World Wide Web, e-mail, telephony, and video on demand services are most likely using IP generally goes unnoticed by the vast majority of users.

The rapid growth and adoption of the Internet and IP can be attributed to some of its fundamental design and development principles, such as open architecture and open standards. In an open architecture, the individual networks are designed and operated independently based on the requirements of the users and services. The connectionless packet-switched nature of IP fits best in this environment.

1. Jonathan J. Gabay, Successful Cybermarketing in a Week (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2000).


The openness of IP's standardization process is rather unique. It benefits from broad community participation and facilitates interoperability. This is a radical difference from other standardization bodies in which each country has a single vote in the decision-making process, an environment that lends itself more to political negotiations than to a focus on technology. The approach taken with standardizing IP makes the protocol nimble and easy to adapt to the requirements of new applications and services. The openness of the standardization process led IP to replace many traditional communications protocols and to continue its rapid growth. IP seems destined to be the underlying technology for most, if not all, communications services.

Over the years, the Internet has become a fundamental resource for our global economy; however, it is challenging to measure its direct impact in all economic areas.

The multitude of its uses and its large user base clearly imply that the Internet and what makes it work, IP, carry significant economic, social, legal, and even political value. At the same time, its governance, operation, and development principles set the Internet apart from other environments, making it difficult to model its evolution in economic terms. A 2006 workshop, "The Future of the Internet,"3 organized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), reaffirmed the economic and strategic importance of the Internet while highlighting the many challenges it faces. Hugo Parr, the chair of OECD's Committee for Information, Computer, and Communications Policy (ICCP), concluded the meeting by summarizing the main points of the workshop, one of which was: "The basic features of interoperability and scalability of the Internet must be preserved. It needs to evolve to meet new demands (e.g., more users, torrents of data) but through evolution rather than drastic system changes."4

IPv6, the next version of the TCP/IP network layer, represents the pivotal element for an evolutionary step for the Internet that is being deployed increasingly through broadband and wireless media.

A technological evolution can, through the growth opportunities it offers, represent an inflexion point with significant business, economic, social, and


4., p. 23.

political implications. IPv6 facilitates the continued adoption of IP, enabling it to further benefit from economies of scale. In other words, IPv6 can support Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 framework:

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.

This chapter captures some of these aspects of IP evolution. The understanding and anticipation of an evolving Internet Protocol are shaping economic and political decisions worldwide at both a national and business organization level.

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