Every device that connects to the Internet must have an IP address. Since 1981, IP addresses have conformed to Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), which provides for about 4.3 billion unique addresses. Decades ago when the Internet consisted mainly of corporate computers and the idea of a home computer was unheard of, that number might have seemed infinite. But today, with a deluge of mobile and tablet devices—and everything from cars to kitchen appliances needing to be “Internet-ready”—demand now far exceeds supply.
Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the successor to IPv4, solves this challenge by providing for more than 340 trillion unique IP addresses. The drawback is that IPv6 is incompatible with IPv4, so traffic can’t travel freely between the IPv4 and IPv6 networks without some intervening technology.
While some enterprises in North America and Europe are delaying their plans to support IPv6, organizations in Asia and developing nations have already embraced IPv6 out of necessity. In these regions, where IPv4 addresses are not available, many companies are developing products, applications, and services that will only support IPv6. Equally important, the public face of these organizations now resides on the IPv6 Internet, so their web properties, services, and content are not available on IPv4.
Given the sweeping changes occurring in today’s Internet, enterprises that postpone their IPv6 initiatives run the risk of isolating themselves from the burgeoning “new world” of IPv6 users, applications, and services. This risk is especially pronounced for global organizations that have customers, partners, suppliers, and other business associates worldwide.
F5 has actively integrated IPv6 networking capabilities into its F5® BIG-IP® product family since 2004 when version 9.0 of the F5 TMOS® operating system was released. Organizations use BIG-IP Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) to intelligently manage network traffic across multiple servers and geographic locations. BIG-IP devices can direct traffic across a mix of IPv4 and IPv6 backend servers, and because BIG-IP devices also function as IPv6 gateways, they provide address translation in both directions between IPv6 and IPv4 networks.
These unique capabilities enable customers to expand into the IPv6 space on their own terms, avoiding immediate and costly changes to their applications and server infrastructure. Using F5 solutions, customers can provide “dual stack” (IPv4 and IPv6) network support, which enables them to maintain their presence on the IPv4 Internet and then take measured steps to convert their backend servers and applications to IPv6. This ability to transition gradually to IPv6 is important as many organizations will need to support IPv4 and IPv6 networks and applications concurrently for several years to come.
Once an organization obtains its IPv6 connectivity service and IPv6 address space, a BIG-IP Application Delivery Controller is all that’s needed to begin supporting IPv6 traffic. Existing F5 customers who own a BIG-IP device already have this capability; nothing special is required to support IPv6.
A BIG-IP device that is assigned an IPv6 address is immediately addressable on the IPv6 Internet, and it can begin handling IPv6 traffic without requiring any changes to application servers or existing security policies.
For customers that prefer assistance transitioning to IPv6, F5 offers IPv6 Solution Services to assists IT organizations in the planning, design, configuration, and implementation of their IPv6 initiatives
What were the remote access challenges that F5 was trying to solve?
Why are we talking about IPv6 now and why should we care?
What pain points did the Service Provider experience with regard to their IP address space?
How did you implement IPv6 last year and what were the security challenges around that?