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Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is coming. In fact, it’s already on its way.

As the world quickly runs out of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, the Internet is transitioning from 32-bit IPv4 addresses to new 128-bit IPv6 addresses. And if your business wants to stay connected, you’ll have to migrate to the new protocol in the near future.

But what does that mean? What should you be considering as you start to make the move to IPv6?

The good news is, you don’t have to migrate over all at once. But you do need to start putting a plan in place if you want to transition to IPv6 seamlessly and stay connected while you do.

So what do you need to know as you make that move?

How Critical Is This Migration?

But, wait … what if your business decides not to make the move to IPv6? What happens then?

The truth is, that isn’t actually an option. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) — the organization responsible for assigning IP addresses — no longer has any more IPv4 addresses left to give out. That means IPv6 is quickly becoming the only option if you want to connect any new devices.

Avoiding IPv6 could also lead to connectivity issues, or even a loss of Internet for your business down the line. And failing to make the move now could make it harder to switch to IPv6 later. In the meantime, you’ll lose your competitive advantage, as other businesses benefit from being more proactive.

In other words, now is the time to stop procrastinating and start planning for the reality of IPv6.

Do You Need to Do It All At Once?

As we mentioned already, though, you don’t have to make the switch to IPv6 in one fell swoop.

Instead you can support both IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time while you slowly transition over. In fact, since the transition process can be timely and involves multiple steps, it’s better to move your network over gradually. But IPv4 and IPv6 don’t naturally communicate with one another — which means you need to help them along if you want to use both on a single network. There are multiple ways to do this:

  • Dual-stacking: Dual-stacking means implementing IPv4 and IPv6 side by side on the same network.
  • Tunneling: Tunneling encapsulates IPv6 within IPv4, allowing isolated IPv6 systems to communicate without having to upgrade away from an IPv4 infrastructure.
  • Translation: With translation, one protocol is translated to the other, so that IPv6 and IPv4 can communicate together.

For most small- to medium-sized businesses, dual-stacking will probably be the best option, but it will depend on your needs and network. So consider your options as you make your migration plan.

Making a Migration Plan

Whichever route you take, if you don’t have a migration plan in place already, now’s the time to get started. Some of the questions you’ll need to consider as you make that plan include:

  • How many IPv4 addresses are you using in your business network?
  • How are those addresses being used?
  • Are the devices you’re using compatible with IPv6?

From there, you can begin to plan out how to start making the move from IPv4 to IPv6 and the easiest devices to start with. Since older technology is often not IPv6 compatible, you can also begin choosing any replacements you need to make through an IPv6 lens — ensuring you’re buying new solutions that are compatible.

And as you make the move to IPv6, you can start to reap the benefits as well. That means being able to handle IPv6 traffic. And by integrating the move into ongoing projects as they come up, you can also save yourself the added effort later on of having to reconfigure everything from scratch.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Of course, there’s more to consider. For a successful IPv6 migration, for instance, budget and training for your tech team should also be addressed as you put your migration plan together. And you may want to use this migration as an opportunity to upgrade your devices or optimize your network.

The point, at this stage, is to start putting a plan in place and setting it into motion. As you start to do the work, you’ll be able to figure out what works best for your individual business.

Here’s wishing you the best of luck as you do!

Learn more about Xplore Business’s connectivity solutions.