Guest Column | October 1, 2012

The World Celebrated The Migration To IPv6 Earlier This Summer With IPv6 Day

By Chris Heyn, GM, KEMP Technologies Italy

IPv6 Day was celebrated around the world on June 6, 2012. This event is significant because it recognized the need for companies and organizations worldwide to have a plan prepared to handle the necessary adoption of IPv6. While the need for an effective IPv6 transition policy is essential, many IT departments continue to struggle to create a working plan that reduces the risk of disruption during the migration strategy.  The good news is that there is technology that supports the migration through a combination of IPv4 and IPv6 protocols with load balancers.

Why not just stick with Universal Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4)?

There are two overwhelming reasons why this is not an option. First, the quantity of IPv4 addresses is rapidly reaching saturation point. Second, new IP devices, everything from smartphones, home entertainment systems and automobile navigation systems use the IPv6 protocol, so the systems accessed by those devices must also support IPv6.  The IPv6 protocol offers a vastly enlarged address space over IPv4, greater reliability and security features.  Businesses must make absolutely sure that their resources are available to users and M2M applications via IPv6.  If unavailable, they run the risk of cutting off their internal and external users from the applications they need access to.

Meeting the Challenge of Migration
The challenge is to allow for a smooth migration rather than a headlong stampede caused by suitable load balancers arriving too late.   A successful migration to IPv6 can be achieved through firmware.  Load balancing solutions that support IPv6 anticipate potential problems and eliminate the change of performance gaps and are targeted to optimize the kernel-level networking layer.  As important as having the right load balancing technology, is having a detailed project plan to ensure that the migration to IPv6 goes smoothly:

  • Individual device validation is essential. Start by compiling an inventory of all of the network equipment in a systematic way and then set up the rules to validate the compatibility of each device type feature. This list should include IPv6 functionality such as operating system requirements, addressing, Quality of Server multicast features, routing, security features and any particular transitional procedures to follow during migration.
  • Create fully detailed reports to divide equipment into two sections that are compliant and non-compliant. Once these reports have been generated, investigate the options available for either hardware and software upgrades or whether it will be necessary to dispose of the current equipment and buy or lease replacements.
  • Have a detailed migration strategy to hand not forgetting to include what-if scenarios to deal with unexpected results that can affect capacity and configuration migration roll back plans should you encounter problems. Equipment enhancement should be rigorously checked before operational deployment and the use of dual-stacked devices and tunnels needs to be tested to a point when you are satisfied that everything is working according to your target performance levels.
  • You should have an IPv4 to IPv6 transition network designer program on hand; you can either create this yourself or consider using one of those available in the market today. Your tool will be able to automatically identify and highlight those subnets that need to be migrated and recommend the optimal transition mechanism as well as other key criteria.
  • Your design tool also needs to be able to highlight traffic flows that are not routable after the Ipv6 migration so you are perfectly able to understand the scale of the issue and make plans how to overcome this obstacle.
  • Use good information that can be found on the internet to make absolutely sure that your new network design is well constructed to respond to security and survivability issues. If after your own research you feel you do not have sufficient resources in house to deal with these demands you may consider using outsourced expertise.
  • Always test the new IPv6 configuration that you are planning to deploy in an operational environment extensively in your test environment. By doing this you insure the best possible results after your network migration.

Latest generation load balancers should be able to handle complex Layer 7 operations when handling IPv6 traffic well within their designed capacity. This is vital for a smooth IPv4 to IPv6 migration.


If you are responsible for your organization’s mandatory migration to implement load balancers that support IPv6 traffic, you can breathe easy, because there are technologies available to make the migration a breeze.  Load balancing solutions that are well known for their load balancing optimization, SSL processing power and high availability capabilities will enable a seamless migration. Effective compression, highly efficient caching and compression capabilities are also important features when considering which load balancing technology you should implement. Furthermore, IT professionals should consider load balancers that do not require the IT department to understand new skills and tricks when handling IPv6 traffic mixed with IPv4 traffic.