The next version of the internet’s main standard, IPv6, will develop in islands which will eventually join together to displace the long-standing IPv4.
“Third-generation cellular networks will need to support IPv6, for example,” says Brace, who has served on the IPv6 Forum of the IETF, which decides such matters.
The most heralded benefit of IPv6 is that it will provide a virtually unlimited number of IP addresses, whereas IPv4 is limited in the number it can accommodate and a shortage may occur in the future. Some talk in trillions when describing the number of addresses available under IPv6, but Brace gives a different example.
IPv6 will deliver five addresses for every square metre of the planet, he says, whereas IPv4 has about five million usable addresses, which are mostly randomly reallocated.
“IPv6 fixes that for mobility. If you’re roaming, it’d be great to have a fixed IP address.”
IPv6 has other advantages, he says.
“It’s not just about IP addresses, it’s about performance, manageability, scalability and security.”
IPSec, one of two main security models used in virtual private networks, is built into IPv6, for example. “It’s not just an add-on.”
As 3G networks expand, they’ll need IPv6, so as to avoid reallocation of IP addresses, but when connecting with legacy networks, will need to be IPv4-enabled as well, he says.
Islands of IPv6-capable networks and equipment will develop over time and they will interconnect, “as more people in the enterprise space go to IPv6”.
IPv4 will never totally disappear, but we’ll end up with a largely IPv6 network, says Brace, in New Zealand earlier this month to talk about the mobile communications company’s virtual private network offerings.
Brace, who came to Nokia when it acquired Ipsilon Networks in 1997, says Nokia bought the company because of its IP and switching and packet forwarding experience.