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Graphic illustrating IPv6

UB moving to new Internet Protocol

By SUE WUETCHER

Published August 14, 2014

The Internet is running out of room.

Those marvels of modern technology we now need for everyday survival —our smartphones, computers and tablets —are connected to the Internet by a unique number known as an IP address.

But IPv4, the Internet Protocol that’s currently used, only has room for about 4 billion addresses — not nearly enough to accommodate the world’s growing numbers of Internet-connected devices.

IPv6, the successor to IPv4, should be able to accommodate the need for IP addresses for years to come — according to Google, IPv6 can handle about 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses.

And while IPv6 has been around for several years, switching over to the new Internet Protocol has been a slow process globally, according to UBIT staffer Tony Casciano, who serves as project manager for the IPv6 transition at UB.

Casciano says UB already has begun the process of transitioning to IPv6, a process that will take some time and be done in phases. In phase one, already underway, both IPv4 and IPv6 are running side-by-side on UB’s data network.

The next phase of the project, he says, is to add IPv6 to university services. That work also has begun: IPv6 already is enabled in the network core backbone and also is available on the UB guest, UB secure and UB wireless Wi-Fi networks.

IPv6 will become more broadly available to the campus community, he says, as it’s rolled out slowly — service by service and location by location — to ensure stability of the network.

Casciano notes that implementing IPv6 will allow UB to comply with modern Internet standards, permit faster and more stable connections to IPv6-only sites and countries, position the university to better compete for grants and contracts, and expand the network to new applications and needs.

He says UB users will not be required at this time to use IPv6, but will be able to do so if their devices are so enabled. And while IPv4 likely won’t be phased out for a few years, it will become more difficult to access services with IPv4-only devices as IPv6 use becomes more prevalent, he says.

Devices enabled with IPv6 will get both IPv6 and IPv4 addresses for the time being, to ensure web content is always available, he adds. So users who access a website like Google, that is completely IPv6 enabled, will use Google’s IPv6 address; users who go to a site like Amazon.com, that is only partially IPv6 enabled, will use the IPv4 address.

Casciano points out that most phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers now being sold have a setting that will allow users to turn on IPv6 when the time comes. Users can determine if their devices can use IPv6 by accessing the IPv6 connectivity website. http://test-ipv6.com/

Members of the university community can keep up to date on the IPv6 transition by visiting UBIT’s “Get Ready for UB’s Switch to IPv6” webpage.