The Internet Protocol (IP) is one of the most fundamental technologies used to permit computers to communicate with one another on the Internet and within private intranets. Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) was originally developed approximately thirty years ago and has begun to show its age with the explosion of the Internet for commercial use within the past fifteen years.

Each IP address represents a machine on the Internet. IPv4 addresses are in “dotted decimal format” and look like this: IPv6, the newest production version of the Internet Protocol, was developed in the late 1990s but has seen slow adoption due to a variety of technologies deployed to extend the life of IPv4. IPv6 addresses contain eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, each group separated by a colon and look like this: 2605:0100:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0010.

Why move from IPv4 to IPv6?

In January of 2011, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last remaining blocks of IPv4 addresses to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). This historic moment solidified the ultimate exhaustion of IPv4 space, which had been predicted numerous times in the past. Although the five RIRs have some IPv4 addresses available to hand out to new customers the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) indicated that it was down to the last available block of IPv4 addresses in April of 2011.

Although the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) still has IPv4 addresses available, people in other parts of the world will eventually no longer be able to receive an IPv4 address and will be forced to migrate to IPv6. As this happens, it will become increasingly important to have an IPv6 Web presence so that organizations can continue to be globally reachable.

IPv6 Activities

Communication Technologies within the Office of Information Technology is currently testing IPv6 in a controlled lab environment and is developing plans for the campuswide deployment of IPv6 in the future. North Carolina State University will ultimately leverage IPv6 as a tool to facilitate education, research and extension initiatives across the State of North Carolina and beyond.

North Carolina State University was one of the first 10 universities worldwide to agree to participate in World IPv6 Day and is the first university to agree to participate within the State of North Carolina. NC State’s early participant status in World IPv6 Day is yet another example of its strong worldwide leadership role in technology and education.

On May 31st, 2011 Communication Technologies received a direct /32 allocation of IPv6 addresses from ARIN.  Planning is currently underway to develop IP address allocation procedures for this newly obtained space.

From late 2011 through early 2012 Communication Technologies upgraded the campus network backbone and deployed state of the art equipment and software with full support for IPv6.

On May 31st, 2012 Communication Technologies announced its directly allocated /32 prefixes to the rest of the Internet by establishing redundant IPv6 eBGP peering sessions with the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), a service of MCNC.

Communication Technologies plans to present several websites via IPv6 for participation in World IPv6 Launch Day on June 6th, 2012 using our permanent direct /32 allocations of IPv6 addresses from ARIN.