Most network managers are still many years away from turning on Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) in their enterprise local area networks (LANs). Private non-routable IPv4 address ranges can happily exist behind a network address translation (NAT) gateway for the foreseeable future.
However, things could change. At any time, someone above your pay grade might decide that the NAT overhead on your routers is too costly from a service perspective. It might be breaking voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls, for instance. With that in mind, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about how you are going to manage internal IPv6 networks in the future. It will pay off.
So where do you begin?
Document All IPv6-Ready Devices
Start with your existing inventory. If you’ve bought a switch or router over the last several years, it probably supports IPv6. (In fact, you may have already made this a requirement of your vendors because you’re a good engineer who believes in future-proofing your infrastructure. You simply haven’t turned on IPv6 yet because you don’t need it in your internal addressing scheme.) So start documenting those devices that are IPv6-ready. It will give you a good backup resource years from now when it’s time to discover and inventory devices that are running IPv6.
As the IPv6 address space is vast, you may not want to rely on a discovery tool to find all your devices. It’s better to document them now so you (or whoever is running the network when IPv6 takes over) will know exactly what you have.
Preparing for your transition to IPv6? Use our free IPv6 test tool to ensure your address is valid.
Evaluate Your Network Management Tools
Also, start thinking about the network management tools you have in place today. Can they support IPv6? Do they monitor and report on devices and interfaces and bandwidth utilization of IPv6 devices in the same way they do with IPv4 devices? You should keep track of what your tools can do today with IPv6 and what they are planning to offer in the future.
Consider Network Monitoring and Mapping Software
Going forward, some enterprises will start operating hybrid networks, especially as troubleshooting connections to external IPv6 resources becomes too complex for certain IPv4 devices. With this change in landscape, it is critical to find network monitoring tools that can map and monitor hybrid networks that have both IPv4 and IPv6 devices.
HelpSystems’ Intermapper is an example of a network monitoring software solution that offers a starting point for IPv6 monitoring. It can map and monitor IPv6 networks today. With Intermapper, IPv4 and IPv6 devices are presented on the same map.