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Get Ready for UB's Switch to IPv6

There will soon be a shortage of IP addresses. Implementing IPv6 is the solution, and UB has already begun adding IPv6 to our campus network.

Every Internet-connected device acquires a unique number known as an “IP address” that connects it to the global online network. The problem with the current Internet Protocol, called IPv4, is that the number of IP addresses is not nearly enough for the world’s population of Internet-connected devices.

The successor to the current protocol, IPv6, solves the problem of IP address shortage by proposing a new scheme that can accommodate the need for years to come.  Although IPv6 has been around for several years, changing over to IPv6 has been a slow process globally.  At UB, implementing IPv6 will take some time and will be accomplished in phases. The first phase has already begun, which is to run both Internet Protocols on the core backbone of UB’s data network. The next phase is to add IPv6 to university services.

UB will use IPv6 to:

  • Comply with modern Internet standards
  • Permit faster and more stable connections to IPv6-only sites and countries
  • Position the University to compete better for grants and contracts
  • Expand the network to new applications and needs

UB has accepted an invitation from the Internet Society to participate in the World IPv6 Launch measurements. Statistics include which websites have enabled IPv6, how many visitors are using IPv6 and how much traffic is IPv6.

Prepare for IPv6

Will anything be different and do I need to prepare?

Most modern phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers have a single setting that will allow you to turn on IPv6 when the time comes.  Visit test-ipv6.com to find out if your device is IPv6 capable.

Do I already have IPv6?

Many devices you use already support IPv6.  Some websites you visit and all different parts of the network must first enable IPv6 before you can use it.

Will you be turning off IPv4?

No, IPv4 service will continue to operate as usual for many years.

How can I learn if my country is IPv6 ready?

There is a website which presents consolidated metrics of IPv6 adoption, globally and at country level. When existing data was publicly available it was used. When nothing was readily available or wasn’t satisfactory, the website, made by Cisco, built programs to gather complementary statistics.  Check out Cisco's world map and country IPv6 deployment information. 

How long will this conversion take?

The complete conversion to IPv6 will take a few years as every website and Internet Service Provider must make the switch.  In the meantime, both systems will work together until IPv4 is no longer needed.

Was there ever an IPv5?

Version 5 was reserved for the Internet Stream Protocol developed prior to IPv6. It was never widely deployed and will not be used publicly.

I am UB IT staff. What will I have to do to enable IPv6?

For most current operating systems, turning on IPv6 will be easy.  The process will include registering your server with the host master for an IPv6 address.  Once you have the address, you'll need to turn on IPv6 within your operating system and adjust your firewall.  However, you can’t do this until IPv6 is available on your subnet.  Any UBIT staff member who develop services should carefully check their code for IP address format dependencies.  

IPv6 Plans and Progress

Where has IPv6 been enabled at UB?

IPv6 has been enabled on the campus backbone network, so that it can be easily rolled out where it is needed. It is in use in the Computing Center, Norton, and Bell Hall on the North Campus.  IPv6 is also available on the UB Secure, UB Wireless and UB Guest Wi-Fi networks. When your subnet is enabled with IPv6, your device will get both IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) so that you never lose content.  If you go to Google, which is completely IPv6 enabled, you'll be using the IPv6 address, but if you go to Amazon.com, which is only partially IPv6 enabled, your IPv4 address will be used.  

Where are we now?

It's our intention to begin making IPv6 more broadly available as we continue to roll out service by service and location by location, ensuring the stability of the network.  Identifying the low risk services and enabling them is our first step.  Moving to the high risk services will be done with a methodical approach to ensure stability of UB's campus network.  Workstation guidelines will be available late 2014.

When will my department get IPv6?

There are a lot of moving parts to enabling IPv6.  A very methodical approach needs to be taken on enabling IPv6 as to not disrupt IPv4.  Because of this, IPv6 is being rolled out with care and only where needed at the moment.  In the meantime, if you have a research need for IPv6, please contact Tony Casciano, the UBIT IPv6 Project Manager.

Will I be forced to use IPv6?

Our plan is that IPv6 addresses will be routinely assigned alongside IPv4 addresses. You won't be required to use IPv6 at this time, but running both IP protocols will allow client machines to use IPv6 if you wish when your subnet is enabled.  At this time, IPv4 may take a few years to completely phase out. However, as more of the world adopts IPv6, IPv4-only machines may not be able to easily talk to all the services they desire.

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