An IPv6 gateway is a device that uses the newer IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) standard rather than IPv4 to transmit data.

What Is an IPv6 Gateway?

An IPv6 gateway uses the newer IPv6 standard rather than IPv4 to transmit data. IPv6 provides better security and many more available addresses for networked devices. This new standard, which was introduced in 2012, uses a different, longer IP addressing configuration, and can accommodate far more networked devices, among other things.

An IPv6 gateway defines the edge of a network and the protocols and configurations in use, translating and routing information. An IPv6 proxy has similarities to an IPv6 gateway. Both can be implemented in either software or hardware, and both can support IPv4 to IPv6 address translation. One key difference is that a proxy conceals the network behind it and can block traffic for security reasons, while a gateway is more like a door through which data can flow.

Why Are IPv6 Gateway Capabilities Important?

The number of possible IP addresses under the old IPv4 standard is far smaller than the possible number of addresses under the IPv6 standard. The IPv6 standard was actually created in response to the realization that IPv4 IP addresses could ultimately be exhausted. For most purposes, new IPv4 addresses are no longer available.

As more companies move away from IPv4 capabilities and toward using IPv6, it is critical to have a flexible, secure, adaptable gateway. The gateway address will be designated noting how traffic can be routed and managed. The IPv6 gateway works like the IPv4 gateway, but is faster and far more secure.

How Does an IPv6 Gateway Work?

Where IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses, usually written as a set of four decimal numbers separated by dots, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses. As a result, IPv6 addresses are much longer, using a configuration that can be abbreviated using two colons together (::) but that in full looks like 0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:ffff:cb00:7100, for instance.

But some companies have been slow to adopt IPv6 functionality, and instead have used a workaround using network address translation (NAT ). NAT works by translating private, unregistered IP addresses in a local network to a single public IP address that can connect to the Internet. NAT, however, does not work very well when handling a large number of some types of IP addresses, or in a network with a large number of devices.

The best solution is to transition fully to IPv6, so that the network is optimized for top functionality, flexibility, and security.

How Does F5 Handle IPv6 Gateways?

The F5 IPv6 Gateway is a module in the F5 BIG-IP product family. The F5 IPv6 Gateway allows enterprises to simultaneously support both the current generation of IPv4 devices as well as emerging IPv6 devices, while seamlessly handling migration to IPv6. 

In addition, F5 offers an IPv6 proxy solution in F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) options include the IPv6 Gateway module, which serves as an IPv6 proxy when installed. This F5 solution allows organizations to implement IPv6 migration plans and meet application availability requirements without disrupting current network infrastructures.