This document was produced at the request of the IAB, based on an existing original. The base protocol specifications are now Draft Standards, and are thus unlikely to change. Some other related specifications are still in progress at the time of this writing, so that the technical details are subject to change, and the references cited may become obsolete; as with IPv4, there will always be more work to do.
The intended audience includes enterprise network administrators and decision makers, router vendors, host vendors, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) managers, and protocol engineers who are as yet unfamiliar with the basic aspects of IPv6. The Internet Protocol (IP) has its roots in early research networks of the 1970s, but within the past decade has become the leading network-layer protocol. This means that IP is a primary vehicle for a vast array of client/server and peer-to-peer communications, and the current scale of deployment is straining many aspects of its twenty-year old design .
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has produced specifications (see section 1. 1) that define the next-generation IP protocol known as "IPng," or "IPv6. " IPv6 is both a near-term and long-range concern for network owners and service providers. IPv6 products have already come to market; on the other hand, IPv6 development work will likely continue well into the next decade. Though it is based on much-needed enhancements to IPv4 standards, IPv6 should be viewed as a new protocol that will provide a firmer base for the continued growth of today's internetworks.
Because it is intended to replace IP (hereafter called IPv4) IPv6 is of considerable importance to businesses, consumers, and network access providers of all sizes. IPv6 is designed to improve upon IPv4's scalability, security, ease-of-configuration, and network management; these issues are central to the competitiveness and performance of all types of network-dependent businesses. IPv4 can be modified to perform some of these functions, but the expectation within the IAB is that the results are likely to be far less useful than what could be obtained by widespread deployment of IPv6.
On the other hand IPv6 aims to preserve existing investment as much as possible. End users, industry executives, network administrators, protocol engineers, and many others will benefit from understanding the ways that IPv6 will affect future internetworking and distributed computing applications. By early 1998 a worldwide IPv6 testing and pre-production deployment network, called the 6BONE, had already reached approximately 400 sites and networks in 40 countries. There are over 50 IPv6 implementations completed or underway worldwide, and over 25 in test 25 December 1999 r production use on the 6BONE. The 6BONE has been built by an active population of protocol inventors, designers and programmers. They have worked together to solve the questions and problems that might be expected to arise during such a huge project. Their experience has served to validate the expectations of the protocol designers. This document presents IPv6 issues in several parts: - The Business Case for IPv6, giving a highlevel view of business issues, protocol basics, and current status, and - The Technical Case for IPv6, which describes more of the unctional and technical aspects of IPv6. - Transition Scenarios, which discusses mechanisms that have been designed to ease the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. 1. The Business Case for IPv6 Given the remarkable growth of the Internet, and business opportunity represented by the Internet, IPv6 is of major interest to business interests, enterprise internetworks, and the global Internet. IPv6 presents all networking interests with a opportunity for global improvements, which is now receiving the collective action that is needed to realize the benefits. . 1. IPv6: Standardization and Productization Status IPv6, the Next-Generation Internet Protocol, has been approved as a Draft Standard, so that it is known to be highly stable and appropriate for productization. A large number of end-user organizations, standards groups, and network vendors have been working together on the specification and testing of early IPv6 implementations. A number of IETF working groups have produced IPv6 specifications that are finished or well underway. Current Draft Standards include: