Inception And Development Of Tcp Ipv6 Information Technology Essay

Published: 2021-08-03 03:05:09
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TCP/IP was initially developed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANet) in the 1970s as the backbone protocol of the Internet. Communication between clusters of computers was permitted by the use of TCP/IP.
Over time, after many years of technical development, TCP/IPv4 was introduced. During the last few decades the rapid growth of the Internet was witnessed. This created bigger challenges to maintain the network infrastructure in an optimized manner and one which would permit further expansion. (Hagen, 2002)
TCP/IPv4 Evolution
IPv4 is the 4th version of the protocol used for managing IP addresses when the Internet was initially developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the 1970s.
IPv4 uses a 32 bit field. This allows an address space of 4,294,967,296. This space was considered to be sufficient at that time since the Internet was not as popular as today. The first portion of the address identifies the network, and the remainder is the address of the host. The 32 bits are written as decimal numbers separated by periods.
IPv4 addressing structure allowed for a maximum of 256 networks which proved to be insufficient. To resolve this drawback, a system named classful networking was introduced, where any IP address can be classified in 5 different classes, namely A, B, C, D, and E. Classes A, B, and C are the most commonly used. Multicast addresses were classified into class D and class E contained reserved addresses. However, partitioning addresses into such classes resulted in some address space not been used maximally. This was solved to an extent by CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) and NAT (Network Address Translation). CIDR performs variable-length subnetting which divides a network into subnets of different sizes; this allows appropriate partitioning of a network in a customizable manner. NAT allowed for the representation of a group of computers using a single IP address. (Miller, 2010)
IPv4 provides a best effort delivery method, where delivery or data packet integrity are not guaranteed. These issues are addressed by TCP (Transport Control Protocol). Several supporting protocols are associated with IPv4; ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) – relates a specific IP address to its MAC (Media Access Control) address and vice versa, DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) – resolves an IP address, and Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) – contacts a sever that manages configuration to obtain an IP address. (Miller, 2010)
Resolving IPv4 addresses can be done either manually or using DHCP which maintains a database of available IP addresses and information related to configuration. Each router interface has a Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) which is the maximum packet size that can be transmitted at one time. If the packet size is greater than the MTU it is fragmented into smaller packets that can be transmitted.
At the beginning, IPv4 did not include any security features; however, due to the increasing number of security breaches in networks IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) was introduced. This was optional for implementation. (Hagen, 2002)
Drawbacks of TCP/IPv4
IPv4 has several major weaknesses that made it difficult to keep up with the rapid growth of the Internet.
IPv4 address consumption:
The address space provided by IPv4 was insufficient to keep up with the growth of the Internet. Today, the public addresses are all but consumed. The division of address classes too led to this problem since not all addresses of certain classes was utilized.
Quality of Service (QoS) in IPv4:
Before using IPv4, it must be configured either manually or by using DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). DHCP infrastructure in turn must be configured and managed. This led to additional work that needed to be performed when using IPv4.
IPv4 Type Of Service (TOS) field was introduced to prioritize voice and video data packets to ensure high quality of communication. However, the TOS field is not supported for all network devices and identification of the traffic flow must be done using a TCP or a UDP port, thus resulting in a higher latency period and inefficient routing.
IPv4 provides inefficient mobility (where the same IP address can be used to connect to the Internet even if it changes its physical location) due to the absence of proper infrastructure.
IPv4 routing infrastructure:
At the beginning, an efficient and a compact routing infrastructure was not created using the IP address prefixes. Instead, each address was defined as a new route in the routing tables. This method proved to be complicated, thus, the concept of hierarchical routing (utilizing IPv6) was introduced. In this method, routers are split into groups called regions and each router has the router information of its region only. (Hagen, 2002)
IPv4 security concerns:
Internet Protocol security (IPsec) was added to IPv4 at a later stage in order to provide security. However, it was not built-in which made it optional during IPv4 implementation. This makes certain networks susceptible to security breaches.
Inception & development of TCP/IPv6
Usage of IPv4 eventually drove to various problems as explained under the previous topic. This led to the development of IPv6, which is expected to accommodate the rapid growth of the Internet.
IPv6 Addressing:
Unlike IPv4, the IPv6 address is 128 bits in length. This allows for an address space of 3.4 × 1038, which is much greater than that of IPv4. The unicast address of IPv6 is simpler in structure; 64 bits are allocated for a subnet prefix, whereas the last the 64 bits are put aside for an interface identifier. These bits can be used to track the MAC (Media Access Control) addresses of network adapters, which consist of 48 bits. Extension headers are used to contain address fields that are used to less frequently. (Dalton, 2002)
An IPv6 header is 40 bytes in length which is only twice as long as the IPv4 header. However, the IPv6 header contains a lesser number of fields thus making it router-efficient.
Similar to IPv4, IPv6 executes a best-effort delivery. The main downside is that an IPv6 header is incompatible with an IPv4 header making it difficult to co-exist.
IPv6 Address Structure:
The 128-bit address is separated by colons into eight blocks each containing 16 bits. Such a block is signified in the hexadecimal format as opposed to the decimal format used in IPv4 addresses.
Types of IPv6 Addresses:
There are three types of IPv6 addresses: unicast, multicast, and anycast addresses. The first two types (unicast and multicast) addresses operate in a similar way to IPv4 unicast (one-to-one delivery) and multicast (one-to-many) addresses. However, an anycast address uses a delivery method that sends data packets to the closest anycast node indicated by routing metrics. Anycast delivery approach permits distribution of network components over a wide area. (Dalton, 2002)
IPv6 Global addresses are easier to be summed up at address space limits, thus, resulting in a lesser amount of routing paths.
IPv6 Supporting Protocols:
Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv6 (ICMPv6):
This protocol carries out error checking, diagnostic functions, and allow for future extensions and modifications for IPv6.
Neighbor Discovery (ND):
ND protocol allows neighboring nodes to identify each other as well as the routers in the network just like the ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) in PIv4.
Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD):
Similar to IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) in IPv4, this protocol allows multicast listeners (nodes which are waiting to receive multicast packets) to be detected in a specific link and also to deliver the multicast packets only to those nodes which require it. (Loshin, 2004)
IPv6 security features:
IPv6 includes AH (Authentication Header) and ESP (Encapsulating Security Payload) protocols that encrypt and authenticate IPv6 packets flowing in that connection. This ensures data integrity, and confidentiality is maintained. Mobile IPv6 allows the same IP address to be used anywhere in the world. It therefore increases mobility.
Quality of Service of IPv6:
Quality of Service can be attained easily since details about IPv6 data traffic are stored in its header (a flow level field). This results in better packet handling from the source to the destination computer. Prioritized delivery adjusts its parameters and provides for maximum bandwidth utilization by reducing fragmentation and latency period.
IPv6 Interface Identifiers & physical address mapping:
IPv6 Interface Identifiers are used to identify interfaces connected to the link. Thus, they have to be unique. They can be generated randomly, determined from the MAC address of the Network Interface Card, assigned during a Point-to-Point Protocol connection or by the DHCP server.
IPv6 DNS (Domain Name Support):
The quad-A (AAAA) DNS maps a DNS to an IPv6 address. The AAAA record is similar to the address (A) record that is used in resolving a DNS name to an IPv4 address. (Loshin, 2004)
Summary on IPv6:
IPv6 was created to solve several problems caused by IPv4 with an abundant number of addresses, a router-efficient header, and an effective node interaction.
Changeover to TCP/IPv6
Though upgrading to IPv6 may not seem compelling, in the near future, Internet users will be forced to adopt IPv6 not only because of the public address depletion but also due to other factors such as increased security and functionality.
IPv6 has been matured enough to be implemented in corporate and other public networks. Many major websites including Google and Facebook have begun the transition to IPv6 using dual-stack. Some companies have been forced to make the transition since they have made partners with companies in IPv4-depleted areas such as Asia (Miller, 2010). Since IPv6 transition has already begun company networks who are still using the IPv4 infrastructure will soon have to switch to IPv6 in order to communicate with the outside world. Usage of mobile devices and applications have continued to rise tremendously over the last decade, this too led to the need for a wider IP address space, which cannot be attained via IPv4.
IPv6 provides higher network efficiency and better security features. This is beneficial to businesses and organizations worldwide. The sooner the switch is made the better it is to the specific network since it takes time, up to several years, to get fully used to IPv6. This can be attained using a dual-stack mechanism and appropriate network monitoring technologies. Therefore, investing in new IPv4 network equipments should be avoided as the IPv4 era will slowly phase out. However, there are many factors to consider before adopting IPv6.
A few include:
Consumption of address space, especially if the network is predicted to expand.
The current IPv4 network does not function as expected or it needs frequent repairs.
If end-to-end security of data traffic is required.
If the network equipment have reached the end of their lifecycle and therefore needs to be replaced.
IPv6 transition methods:
There are several ways of transitioning to IPv6.
Dual stack:
This is by far the most common method used due to its flexibility and user-friendliness. Nodes connected to a dual-stack network can communicate with IPv4 nodes using IPv4 or with IPv6 nodes using IPv6. Once IPv6 is fully accepted the IPv4 stack can be disabled making the network fully IPv6-operated.
The obvious disadvantage of using this technique is that more memory and CPU power is been utilized to run the two protocol stacks. (Davies, 2008)
Routing protocols such as IS-IS (Intermediate System to Intermediate System), OSPFv2 (Open Shortest Path First version 2), and OSPFv3 (Open Shortest Path First version 3) are needed to communicate among both the protocols. Separate security systems (including firewalls) are needed to protect both the IPv4 and the IPv6 networks.
Tunneling makes the migration more flexible since there is no mandatory path that needs to be followed.
IPv6 traffic can be tunneled over an IPv4 network by encapsulating them within IPv4 packets. Compatibility with IPv4 should be maintained to perform a successful transition to IPv6. This allows IPv6 traffic to be carried using the existing IPv4 network. (Miller, 2010)
Access to IPv4 networks can be achieved by tunneling through the specific IPv4 infrastructure, due to this, the service provider need not support IPv6.
Given the benefits, tunnels are more prone to security attacks. Higher latency is produced since entry and exit points need extra time for encapsulating and decapsulating packets. This puts additional load on the routers.
NAT-PT (Network Address Translation – Protocol Translation):
A Network address translation - protocol translation (NAT-PT) node translates between the IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. A visible advantage of this method is that it permits direct communication between IPv6 and IPv4 nodes and vice versa.
The main disadvantage is that it does not provide end-to-end security. Efficient routing cannot be implemented since it lacks flexibility. If the NAT router fails the network can fail. It should not be viewed as a permanent solution. It is recommended to implement NAT-PT only if there is no opportunity to use the other techniques of IPv6 transition. (Miller, 2010)
Acceptance of IPv6
By now all Internet websites and service providers were expected to have adopted a parallel IPv6 network along with their original network while switching over to IPv6-compatible hardware and network management tools.
However, many have adopted a wait and see approach before switching over to IPv6. Two of the world’s largest markets; USA and China have hung back IPv6 adoption. (Hagen, 2002)
Davies (2008) has compared IPv6 adoption to a slow-motion train wreck where everyone agrees that steps have to be taken to avoid a major network downfall due to IPv4 but people are reluctant to take any action not knowing the exact consequences. Certain home network equipment vendors have started to enable IPv6 by default to their products. This would take away the burden of configuring that home users will have to face.
Prior to the changeover, awareness should be spread among all Internet users including businesses. As stated by Leslie Daigle (a member of the Internet Society) 6% of businesses have pointed out that they were unaware of the crisis. Full stability of the IPv6-based Internet will be reached as the network engineers commence the tedious job of planning the new routing infrastructure. They will also have to manage a dual DNS system for both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols. At present, all addresses for the Asia Pacific region have been allocated and the amount of addresses that were put aside for the remaining regions are expected to run out in 2014.
Due to this IPv4 addresses have become much difficult to obtain, therefore, many companies have begun to realize the need to deploy IPv6 in their networks. However, the complete benefits of IPv6 can be experienced only if everyone has deployed it.
Carrier-Grade IPv6 (CGv6) approach has been introduced by Cisco to implement IPv6 in a methodical manner. The plan is to introduce IPv6 to a network and in doing so provide its benefits while continuing the IPv4 network infrastructure. This step-by-step approach (preserve, prepare, and prosper) allows the network users to experience the benefits of IPv6 over IPv4 while allowing them time to adapt to the new IPv6 environment. (Miller, 2010)
Future of the Internet Protocol
Based on the information I have gathered during my research in writing this article, it is fair to state that in the predictable future, IPv6 will become the preferred Internet Protocol of all major Operating Systems and network components. Yet, for the foreseeable future a direct transition is not feasible since IPv4 and IPv6 are incompatible protocols. Dual protocol stacks will have to be supported and awareness of the IPv4 address exhaustion crisis will have to be spread among all businesses and other institutions connected to the Internet.
Soon, a need for a globally unique Internet Protocol will arise since IPv4 and IPv6 cannot co-exist for a long time period as it requires complex infrastructure and higher costs to maintain and run two separate protocol channels.

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