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IPv6+: Boosting the Value of IP Network Infrastructure

IPv6+ will reshape business models, revenues, and efficiency.

By Latif Ladid, Founder and President, IPv6 Forum

Due to the public health crisis that’s spanned 2020, we’re becoming accustomed to new application scenarios such as video conferencing, collaborative office, wireless projection, and robot-based services. New infrastructure deployments involving 5G, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and industrial Internet are also on the rise. 

IPV6+

These changes are posing higher requirements on IP networks. 

  • Massive connections: On November 26, 2019, the world’s 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses were officially exhausted. However, the booming growth of 5G, cloud, and IoT means that the number of global IoT connections will hit a predicted 27 billion by 2025. In general, the number of communication connections will continue to grow explosively, taking us into the era of massive connections. 
  • High-quality connections: 5G is the starting point for people to shift their focus from personal entertainment to a fully connected society. Emerging services, such as VR education, smart healthcare, smart grids, enterprise cloudification, and autonomous vehicles, require low latency, large bandwidth, high mobility, and high-quality connections.
  • Swift provisioning of connections: With the increasing adoption of cloud, many types of enterprises will migrate from local platforms to cloud. The service provisioning time ranges from 6 to 12 months to hourly, and so we need to provide a quick deployment method.

With a huge address space of 340 trillion trillion trillion, IPv6 solves the IP address shortage once and for all. In addition, the IPv6 extension headers functionality greatly improves the scalability and flexibility of packets. The industry’s collected wisdom is already seeing IPv6 as the future. IETF IAB stated that, “IETF will stop requiring IPv4 compatibility in new or extended protocols. Future IETF protocol work will then optimize for and depend on IPv6”.

IPv6 is a basic ingredient to address current evolution trends and solve the problem of insufficient IP addresses. But that’s not all: Emerging services require massive, high-quality, and fast connections. These new services pose higher requirements on network automation, intelligence, and user experience. To tackle those requirements, IPv6 needs to combine with other technologies to generate groundbreaking "IPv6+" based networks.

IPv6+ is IPv6 Enhanced Innovation for the 5G and cloud era. It’s characterized by protocol innovations such as SRv6 and BIER6, combined with AI capabilities such as network analytics and intelligent tuning. These functions can meet the requirements of path planning, quick service provisioning, SLA assurance, automatic O&M, quality visualization, and application awareness. 

IPv6+ powers innovations in business models, which in turn increases revenues and efficiency. For example, in the financial services industry, if a customer uses the traditional MPLS scheme, every node needs to be configured, just like a bus that stops at every bus stop. Upgrading to IPv6+SRv6 can enable automated service provisioning between, for example, bank branches and HQ in one-hop. Like a taxi, it focuses on the destination. No transfer is required, which reduces service provisioning time by 90 percent. 

In the healthcare industry, IPv6+ slicing technology can isolate multiple planes on a physical network to carry different types of services and provide dedicated channels for different scenarios like ambulances, CT scans, and office tasks, greatly improving service experience. Operators can transform from selling bandwidth to selling differentiated services, changing their business models and increasing revenues in the process. Through dedicated healthcare channels, for example, patients can receive medical diagnosis and urgent treatment 15 minutes faster. Medical resources can be better shared to improve medical standards. 

IPV6+

In a different class

When you’re on IPv4, you’re in economy class. If you’re using NAT, then you’re in the luggage hold. If you’re on IPv6,  you’re in business class. But when you’re on IPv6+, like SRv6, you’ve been upgraded to first class. 

IPv6+ has gained traction in the research of international standards organizations. ETSI has released the IPv6 Enhanced Innovation whitepaper, and the IPv6 Forum, Huawei, TLF, CT, KPN, POST, and others are working together to set up a new ISG in ETSI. The new ISG will focus on IPv6 enhanced innovations in the context of things like use cases, reference architecture, and best deployment practices. 

IPv6+, combined with innovations in business scenarios, is deepening and developing IPv6 into a key basic technology of IP networks for the 5G and cloud era. The accelerated deployment of IPv6 also provides a broad space for IPv6+ technology, networks, and service innovation. 

IPv6+ will undoubtedly boost the value of IP network infrastructure. The future of IP networks requires the efforts of the ecosystem chain and you’re welcome to join us!