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While IPv4 address space is nearing exhaustion, service providers and enterprises need to provide access to both current IPv4 and new IPv6 addresses.
Managing the enablement of both IPv4 and IPv6 stacks is a challenge that has given rise to multiple different approaches. This week Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR) announced that it was adding support for the DS-Lite (Dual Stack Light) approach to handling both IPv4 and IPv6. The DS-Lite approach joins the list of IPv6 migration options available including Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT), 6rd (IPv6 Rapid Deployment) and traditional Dual-Stack approaches.
"One of the dynamite things about DS-Lite is that it allows service providers to begin to adopt IPv6 while still elegantly connecting hosts to IPv4 content that exists on the Internet," Thomas DiMicelli senior product marketing manager at Juniper told InternetNews.com.
DiMicelli added that service providers realize that they need to deal with the IPv4 address exhaustion issue even as consumers and enterprises still need to connect to IPv4 hosts for their content. There is currently only a limited amount of content that is IPv6-ready and accessible.
"So service providers are caught in the middle of trying to address the exhaustion issue, however they also need to find a way to conect users to content and they can't abandon IPv4," DiMicelli. "So DS-Lite lets us implement both IPv4 and IPv6 on either a remote gateway or end station, as well as begin to put IPv6 out on the access network and then tunnel the IPv4 specific content within IPv6 packets, into the service provider network."
With DS-Lite, Juniper is expanding on its previous support for Dual Stack within its JUNOS network operating system, which provides concurrent support for both IPv4 and IPv6. With regular Dual Stack, the end systems will send either IPv6 or IPv4 packets based on DNS query response for a destination. The challenge with regular Dual Stack is that it still can consume many IPv4 end points. In contrast, with DS-lite, IPv6-only links are used between the service provider and the customer.
DiMicelli noted that Juniper's IPv6 migration support by way of DS-lite is enabled as part of its core JUNOS operating system, which powers Juniper's routing equipment.
Other networking vendors have been busy advancing IPv6 migration strategies beyond just traditional Dual-Stack as well. Cisco has been promoting the use of Large Scale Network Address Translation (LSN) as a migration mechanism.
While JUNOS powered networking gear is available for both service providers and enterprises, DiMicelli said that enterprises haven't been quick to jump on the IPv6 bandwagon.
"Specifically for enterprises, I don't think that the IPv6 issue has been urgent, but it depends on the type of enterprise we're talking about," DiMicelli said. "A clear market space for IPv6 has been the Federal and Defense space which has had mandates for IPv6 ready equipment and migration."
At this point, DiMicelli does not see IPv6 adoption as being an education issue.
"I think we're beyond education, but I truly think for most folks that it's in the testing stages," DiMicelli said. "It's a large and complex challenge for service providers and that's why we offer so many different protocols to help them overcome the challenge."
Moving forward, DiMicelli expects more fine-tuning of technologies and services over time.
"It's incumbent upon us to make this transition as painless as possible," DiMicelli said.