We don’t get this question very often, but we wanted to provide a light primer on the technology and answer the question at the same time. IPv6 is a lot like the deprecation of the 3.5mm headphone jack: most people aren’t looking forward to it, but it seems to be inevitable if you want to keep up with technology. Just like the headphone jack, not everyone has moved on quite yet. Why is that?
What is IPv6?
IPv6 is an updated network layer protocol that gives you more address space - 128 bit length to be precise. IPv6 will coexist with IPv4. It is intended to allow an almost infinite number of devices to connect to the internet. It also comes with the IPSec security embedded into it to help manage encryption and authentication between hosts.
Unfortunately, every time we adopt a new protocol or a new technological concept, we encounter frustration, headaches, and broken Bluetooth headphones that happened to throw themselves on the tile floor because they ran out of battery for the umpteenth time. IPv6 is no different. Google has estimated IPv6 adoption to about 20% of the entire Internet. The United States is in the lead with a 37% adoption rate.
These rates include ISPs, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), and SaaS providers. ISPs and CDNs were forced to be early adopters for a couple of reasons.
- They needed to be able to support IPv6-only devices.*
- Marketing and sales
* “However, T-Mobile US has taken a lead by deploying an IPv6-only network for Android, and other providers are likely to follow suit once iOS also supports IPv6-only.”
SaaS vendors, IOT vendors, and Small Medium Business (SMB) and consumer hardware vendors will likely be the last to adopt IPv6. That’s because consumers aren’t demanding IPv6 yet nor is the inevitable exhaustion of IPv4 dictating the move.
ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) which manages and distributes Internet number resources including IPv4 addresses for the United States is completely out of IPs. If that’s true, why do we still hear about businesses obtaining static IPs? Well, you can think of ARIN as the wholesaler. Although, they are out of IPs, retailers, and brokers still have IPs to give out as do ISPs. Additionally, there are IPv4 auctions. So the sky isn’t falling just yet, but it’s time to start getting prepared.
So if we’re supposed to start supporting IPv6, why isn’t everyone on board? There are two primary demotivators.
- Cost- A lot of relatively recent network gear doesn’t support IPv6.
- Knowledgeable network admins- most people can’t learn this technology overnight.
Bonus: It’s hard to remember IPv6 addresses
What if I don’t adopt IPv6?
Many of the websites you visit are not IPv6 ready. What does this mean? If you configure IPv6 on your network, will you no longer be able to enjoy content on Reddit?
No. If you configure your network as IPv6-ONLY, you can still visit websites that only support IPv6 with the help of protocols working in the background. Things like 464XLAT and NAT64. Additionally, most enterprise networks are configuring their equipment as “dual stack”- meaning the networks can pass IPv4 and IPv6 traffic simultaneously. This is still the best way to move forward swallowing the IPv6 pill. It’s like owning a phone that has a 3.5mm jack, but you can also use Bluetooth headphones.
Does Securly support IPv6 yet?
The short and sweet answer is “not yet”. We are, however, surveying the market to determine the best time to dedicate R&D efforts into adopting the technology. At a high-level, it doesn’t appear the change will take too long nor will it interfere with any of our services offered. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon because all the cool kids are doing it, we’re spending our time honing our student safety offering and developing high volume feature requests to save lives and make our customers lives easier.
What if I run a dual stack network? Does that mean Securly isn’t the right solution for me? Of course not! All it means is traffic that we intercept will be transmitted over IPv4.
Hopefully, a cochlear implant that is powered off of our own body heat with a wireless technology that leverages encryption even quantum computing can’t brute force. Or bring back the headphone jack and keep IPv4. We’ll be holding our breath for the latter.