February 18, 2017
Most applications and networks today still support IPv4. There is a constantly growing need to run these applications across IPv6 networks. This brings us to one important question—can IPv4 and IPv6 interoperate?
IPv6 and IPv4 are both entirely separate protocols. IPv4 routers and hosts are unable to deal with IPv6 traffic. Furthermore, IPv6 lacks backward compatibility with IPv4. These are some unfortunate problems many of us have to deal with:
- It is not possible to switch over an entire network over to IPv6 in one day
- There will be a number of complications if the internet continues to be operated over IPv6 in the long term
This is the reason why many organizations continue to function with two separate protocols operating together. This could go on for ten years, which seems like a long period. However, considering the volume of infrastructure that still functions around IPv4 and needs to be upgraded, this is a realistic figure.
The transition would involve seamless communication between IPv6 and IPv4 nodes. At the same time, isolated IPv6 islands would need to utilize the widespread IPv4 to connect with one another.
This brings us down to the same issue—interoperability between both the protocols.
Meet Dual IP Stacks
It is possible to interoperate both the protocols using dual stacking with modified nodes. Nodes with dual stack functionality will be able to equally support IPv6 and IPv4 addresses. The addresses are ones with first 96 bit of addresses as zeros and the rest as an IPv4 address. This means that every IPv4 address can be transitioned into the IPv6 using this method.
The problem is, this also requires extensive infrastructure upgrades. For many, this may not be a feasible option; the entire purpose of moving to IPv6 is IPv4 exhaustion because:
- All routers will require to support both internet protocols and maintain dual routing tables
- The simplicity and strength of a network depends on its ability to extensively utilize one form of the protocol
However, to tackle these issues a few solutions are:
- Network Address Translator-Protocol Translator (NAT-PT)
- Dual Stack Application Level Gateway (Dual Stack ALG)
- Dual Stack Transition Mechanism (DTSM)
This means there are proactive solutions to interoperate both the internet protocols. However, if you would like to make the most of your current infrastructure and are looking to buy IPv4 addresses, we can help. Get in touch with us to find out how.
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