Q

Is the Internet of Things speeding up the need for IPv6 deployment?

Many new technologies are driving the need for IPv6 deployment, and the Internet of Things may be the biggest driver. IPv6 expert Ciprian Popoviciu explains why the Internet of Things is speeding up the need for enterprises to make the transition.

Is the Internet of Things driving faster IPv6 deployment than other technologies because of the sheer number of IP addresses needed by all of those devices?

All of the IT revolutions, transformations and transitions we are witnessing today will ultimately rely on IPv6 for their success. Only in an IPv6-enabled network infrastructure can our latest innovations scale to their full potential. This is most applicable to the Internet of Things, the new paradigm that is one of the buzzwords du jour.

IPv4 address exhaustion isn't driven just by the increasing number of people joining the Internet. Each new user potentially has multiple devices, each one requiring an IP address. Now increase the number of devices and hosts by several orders of magnitude, and you'll understand why the Internet of Things (IoT) can't take hold without IPv6.

The world of IoT is highly instrumented with sensors and actuators that operate in the smallest of devices and platforms, which are all IP-enabled. The virtualization of resources has become easier and faster in the data center and throughout the infrastructure with the help of containers -- each container requiring at least one IP address. The true power or IoT comes not just from a smarter infrastructure, but from the networking effects kicked off by having all these hosts easily and directly accessible over IP. Note the word "directly," as in using a global IP address and not having the devices isolated in enclaves of RFC 1918, the standards for IPv4 and IPv6 private networks. The sheer number of devices coming online will require IPv6.

IPv6 delivers more to IoT than just addressing space, however. With IPv6, IoT overlays a network that, with the new protocol, handles multicast well, supports scalable mobility and enables low-power devices or battery-powered devices to mesh into new, efficient infrastructures. Today's smart grid is just a use case of IoT, yet it depends intrinsically and fundamentally on IPv6 through technologies like IPv6 over low-power wireless personal area networks and the RPL programming language. It's easy to get excited about things like the cloud, software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and IoT, but behind all of these ideas, IPv6 is the great innovation enabler.

Next Steps

Internet of Things means more network pressures

How service providers can offer IPv6 support

This was first published in July 2014

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