Cisco Rolls Out Second IPv6 Implementation

Hoping to address the needs of its users, CiscoSystems, Inc. released the second phase of its IPv6 features for its InternetOperating System (IOS). IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is the nextgeneration of the Internet Protocol designed to replace the current IPv4.

One of the most significant new features in Cisco’simplementation is protocol translation between IPv4 and IPv6 networks. Becausethe two standards differ on many accounts – for example, IPv4 uses 32-bit IPaddresses and IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses – the protocols are not directlyinteroperable. Interoperability is considered one of the major hurdles towidespread IPv6 adoption.

The new implementation adds features that enhance themanageability of IP networks. Cisco trumpets its additions in the areas ofsecurity, scalable routing, management services, and distributed switching.

Cisco has already hinted at what will come with itsthird iteration of IPv6. It demonstrated native support for Open Shortest PathFirst (OSPF) routing. OSPF is a routing protocol designed to find the mostefficient way of sending packets over an IP network.

Development of the IPv6 protocol began in 1991 and theInternet Engineering Task Force approved the specification in 1997. Its isdesigned to fix many of the problems of IPv4 and better reflect thecontemporary computing environment.

One of the biggest problems it hopes to fix is thelimited number of IP addresses. It was assumed that each device connected tothe Internet would have a unique IP, but it became clear that IP addresseswould run out. Technologies such as Network Address Translation (NAT) have beendeveloped to overcome these limitations, but with IPv6’s introduction of a128-bit address space, it may be possible for each device to have a unique IPaddress.

IPv6 is also designed to build Quality of Service (QoS)features into the protocol and adds other enhancement to make network moremanageable and better able to handle different kinds of data. –Chris McConnell