Most parts of the world have already exhausted their IPv4 allocations. The continuous growth of the global Internet requires that its overall architecture evolve to accommodate the new technologies that support the growing numbers of users, applications, appliances, and services. IPv6 is designed to meet these requirements and allow a return to a global environment where the addressing rules of the network are again transparent to the applications. IPv6 quadruples the number of network address bits from 32 bits (in IPv4) to 128 bits, which provides more than enough globally unique IP addresses for every network device on the planet. The use of globally unique IPv6 addresses simplifies the mechanisms used for reachability and end-to-end security for network devices.
IPv6 provides the following benefits:
- Larger address space for global reachability and scalability
- Simplified header for routing efficiency and performance
- Deeper hierarchy and policies for network architecture flexibility
- Efficient support for routing and route aggregation
- Serverless autoconfiguration, easier renumbering, multihoming, and improved plug and play support
- Security with mandatory IP Security (IPSec) support for all IPv6 devices
- Improved support for Mobile IP and mobile computing devices (direct-path)
- Enhanced multicast support with increased addresses and efficient mechanisms
It is expected that IPv4 and IPv6 hosts will need to coexist for a substantial time during the steady migration from IPv4 to IPv6, and the development of transition strategies, tools, and mechanisms has been part of the basic IPv6 design from the start. Customers have to consider IPv6 as an important feature in their next generation network design and deployment.