What is it?
The Internet operates by transferring data in small packets that are independently routed across networks as specified by an international communications protocol known as the Internet Protocol. Since the early 1980’s, Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) has been the publicly used version of the Internet Protocol, and it is currently the foundation for most Internet communications. The growth of the Internet and internet-accessible devices, such as smartphones and computers has mandated a need for more addresses than is possible with IPv4.
Though IPv4 uses 32 bits for Internet Protocol addresses, and can provide over 4 Billion addresses, IPv6 packets use128-bit addresses. The latter means IPV6 provides new address space supporting 2^128 or approximately 340 undecillion addresses.
What does this mean to us at Berkeley Lab?
For the last 18 months, the IT Division has been investigating what we need in order to fully support IPv6 and has been actively working towards a deployment plan. Specifically, the IT Division is working on some of the more significant issues by developing cyber security tools that can support IPV6 services.
Ted Sopher, Group Lead of LBLnet Services, is serving on the Energy Sciences Coordinating Committee (ESCC) IPv6 working group and is developing an IPv6 guide for DOE Labs. According to Ted, the greatest concern lies in the lack of IPv6 connectivity, due to the potential, negative impacts it could have on scientific programs and activities. However, he states the IT Division will continue to formulate an implementation plan and expect to fully deploy IPv6 in the next year or so.