Managing IPv4 to IPv6 Transition With SD-WAN

Sensor, telematics and actuator technologies are developing at an unprecedented rate. This trend is due, in large part, to the exponential growth of IoT, and increased sensor accuracy, reduced size, cost and the ability to detect and measure things that weren’t previously possible. 

In fact, sensor technology has become so advanced, IoT devices already far outnumber users, with billions of IoT devices already deployed, and billions of new sensors expected to be deployed each year. In our quest to make connected things perform more efficiently and with more enhanced features, we have to make them, and the connectivity ecosystem, smarter. Actually, to enable smarter things and more intelligent networks, there are three primary areas that are essential:

  1. Internet of Things (IoT): IoT is anything that is network-connected. Manufacturers add sensors and software to everything from what we wear, to our homes and cars, to the tools and machinery used in our factories. The Industrial sectors does the same for manufacturing equipment, so-called IIoT.
  2. Software defined WAN (SD-WAN): Connecting IoT devices to clouds and data centers requires more than reliable and flexible network connectivity; it also requires service-aware and application-aware connectivity. SD-WAN provides a software-defined overlay that adds network intelligence, agility and virtual service functions that convert a rigid network into a flexible, high performance, business-driven workhorse that knows what needs to be done to improve application and services delivery.
  3. Big data and analytics: Data, and the analysis of the data, can provide valuable insights about how connected devices are functioning, how they’re used, and their status and condition. With proper data analytics and analysis, the digital world of IoT devices can significantly improve the quality of the physical applications for which they are used. In terms of the enterprise network, implementing an SD-WAN solution that captures IPFIX telemetry data, which most things emit, is especially key.

IoT is having a profound impact on WAN infrastructure, which wasn’t designed to support the flood of data from countless devices. Every IoT device requires its own unique IP address, and as new devices are added to enterprise networks, there simply aren’t enough IPv4 addresses available.

Fortunately, IPv6 is taking over where IPv4 leaves off, and IoT devices are able to benefit from IPv6 enhanced efficiency, scalability and security. Today, IPv6 addresses represent approximately 21 percent of the addresses accessing Google worldwide, with the U.S. tops at 34 percent. While IPv6 provides the addresses needed to add countless IoT devices to our globally distributed WANs, many organizations still face a dilemma with their WAN infrastructure’s lack of sufficient bandwidth and inability to adequately secure mission-critical IoT applications, which often are real time in nature.

Enterprises supporting both IPv4 and IPv6 require solutions that provide them with a smooth transition. Fortunately, IPv6 includes resources and functions that interact with software-defined networking (SDN), virtual network functions (VNF) and service-oriented overlays. An SD-WAN built on SDN principals can provision thing-centric VNFs for virtual network and security services. This approach enables SD-WAN to provide a self-healing architecture that inserts network and security functions into the WANs that monitor IoT application performance and security posture; and automatically make policy-based changes that adapt to changing conditions, and ensure network uptime and IoT application reliability.

Through a bit of serendipity, SD-WAN is a near-perfect platform for enterprises that require a diverse host of new capabilities. As enterprises running dual-stacks migrate to SD-WAN, a key consideration should be SD-WAN support for dual-stack functionality for the LAN service and WAN transport. SD-WAN solutions that support both IPv4 and IPv6 provide enterprises and managed service providers with the flexibility to design their WANs with IPv4 today, while future-proofing and avoiding an expensive swap out when they switch to IPv6.

This dual-mode IT platform will enable the digital transformation of their WAN infrastructure to support their transition seamlessly to IPv6, migrate to cloud and SaaS, support numerous IoT applications, and provide a quality user experience for thousands of users with a myriad of devices. SD-WAN enables enterprises with the flexibility to digitally transform their WANs with IPv6 and continue to support IPv4 for as long as they need.

Chapter 2 of the “Network is the Platform” is about to be written, and it will have nothing to do with you working overtime for the network; instead, the network will work overtime, all the time, for you!