What was thought to be impossible only a decade ago is becoming a reality: the Internet is officially running out of available IP addresses. The 4 billion IP addresses provided by the current Internet routing standard, IPv4, are expected to become exhausted in the near future, forcing enterprises to make decisions about their Web pages.
To compensate for the lack of IPv4 addresses, organizations basically have two choices. They can: adopt technologies like Network Address Translation (NAT) gateways to modify their IP addresses into packets, essentially hiding their network behind a select few IPv4 addresses; or as highlighted in an Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) TechZine article, Making the Move to IPv6, embrace the transition to IPv6, the next generation of Internet Protocol
The first option is a short-term fix that does not eliminate long-term concerns. NAT gateways are not only costly, but they also inhibit many of today's chief collaboration tools like instant messaging and VoIP.
Transitioning to IPv6 – the standardized protocol that provides more IP addresses than grains of sand on the world's beaches – eliminates the costs of temporary fixes and technology barriers.
For enterprises, migrating to IPv6 technologies provides a number of benefits, including efficient routing, the auto configuration of IP addresses, security and quality of service enhancements, and mobility support, among other benefits.
However, it should be recognized that the overall migration to IPv6 will take some time, due to the continued reliance on NAT gateways and the select number of today's applications that make IPv6 benefits a reality.
For these reasons, most providers recommend a phased transition to IPv6, where infrastructure components enable both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic to coexist until the complete global migration is completed. This will allow enterprises to plan for the future while responding to current requirements.
Alcatel-Lucent’s recent application note titled, "Enterprise IP Communication: IPv6 Transition Plans," examines how enterprises can implement this phased migration. It provides a detailed checklist of what should be considered when undergoing such a plan. These steps include understanding whether the hardware is IPv6-ready and if the organization's ISP supports the Internet protocol.
Alcatel-Lucent also suggests that enterprises embrace standards-based technology and conduct a cost/benefit analysis before undertaking such an initiative.
With its expertise in the field, Alcatel-Lucent has put a great deal of work into helping enterprises prepare for the eventual mass migration to IPv6, including providing IPv6-enabling technology in its hardware portfolio and software suites.
The company's Communication Services and Applications suite provides IPv6 upgrades to a variety of hardware and software platforms, including upgrades to dual stack Unified Communication and Collaboration Servers, user devices and applications. Alcatel-Lucent can also help upgrade the dual stack management solution platforms and the overall communication ecosystem, including communication services and business or vertical application integration, according to the white paper.
"Alcatel-Lucent is strongly committed to helping large enterprises and organizations enable sustainable transition plans using standard IPv4/IPv6 enabling technology such as tunnels, dual stack phones and application servers, session border controllers and SIP translation services," says Alcatel.
"As a result of this phased approach, existing and future customers of OmniPCX Enterprise Communication Services can seamlessly insert communication services into their IPv6 strategic plan and transition to IPv6 at their pace," they add.
Check out the application note to read about how large enterprises can partner with Alcatel-Lucent to effectively transition to IPv6 without drastically transforming their network. ALU provides specific recommendations for each topology, including LAN, WAN IPv6 regional-only deployments.
Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Peter Bernstein