5 Steps to Start Using IPv6 (not IPv5)

January 24, 2011

As Kevin mentioned on Friday, we are less than 45 days from "doomsday." The IANA only has about 3% of the resources required to sustain our current way of life. 6.8 billion people with only 4.3 billion addresses in existence. It's the 2012 saga in 2011: The exhaustion of the Internet's available IP version 4 (IPv4) addresses. What are we going to do?!

Luckily, a lot of people have been hard at work to mitigate the impending Internet crisis. IP version 6 (IPv6) is on the horizon and is already supported by most modern internet enabled devices. If you're like me, the fact that we went from IPv4 to IPv6 might make you wonder, "What happened to IPv5?"

The powers that be didn't decide to rid the number system of the number five because of its mixture of curves and right angles, and it wasn't because they only wanted to use round numbers. IP version 5 (IPv5) was a work in progress and part of a family of experimental protocols by the name of ST (Internet Stream Protocol). ST and later ST-II were connection-oriented protocols that were intended to support the efficient delivery of data streams to applications that required guaranteed data throughput.

An ST packet looks very similar to its IPv4 sibling, and both use the first 8 bits to identify a version number. IPv4 uses those 8 bits to identify IPv4 packets, and ST used the same 8 bits to identify IPv5 packets. Since "version 5" was spoken for, the next iteration in IP advancement became version 6.

If you've been around the SoftLayer blog for a while, you already know a fair bit about IPv6, but you're probably wondering, "What’s next?" How do you actually start using IPv6 yourself?

1. Get a Block of IPv6 Addresses

Lucky for you, the SoftLayer platform is IPv6 ready, and we're already issuing and routing IPv6 traffic. Obtaining a block of public IPs from us is as easy as logging into the portal, pulling up the hardware page of a server and ordering a /64 block of IPv6 IPs for $4/mo per subnet ($10 if you want a portable subnet)!

For those of you that have ordered IPs from us in the past, IPv4 addresses are usually $0.50-$1.00 each. To get a /64 of public static IPv6 addresses, it’s a whopping $0.00 for the entire range. So just how many IPs is in a /64? 256? Try again. 512? Keep going. 1 Million? You’re still cold. Let's try 18.4 quintillion. For those that understand scientific notation better, that is 1.84 x 1019. If you just want to see the number written in long form, it's 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 IP addresses. That allocation should probably tide you over for a little while.

2. Make Sure Your Server is IPv6 Ready

Most current server operating systems are ready to take the IPv6 leap. This includes Windows 2003 SP1 and most Linux OSes with 2.6.x Linux kernels. We'll focus on Windows and RedHat/CentOS here.

To ready your Windows 2003 server for IPv6, do this:

  1. In Control Panel, double-click Network Connections.
  2. Right-click any local area connection, and then click Properties.
  3. Click Install.
  4. In the "Select Network Component Type" dialog box, click Protocol, then Add.
  5. In the "Select Network Protocol" dialog box, click Microsoft TCP/IP version 6, then OK.
  6. Click Close to save changes to your network connection.

Once IPv6 is installed, IIS will automatically support IPv6 on your web server. If a website was running when you installed the IPv6 stack, you must restart the IIS service before the site begins to listen for IPv6 requests. Sites that you create after you enable IPv6 automatically listen for IPv6. Windows 2008 server should have IPv6 enabled by default.

When your Windows server is ready for IPv6, you will add IPv6 addresses to the server just as you'd add IPv4 addresses ... The only difference is you will edit the properties to the Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) network protocol.

To ready your RedHat/CentOS servers, do this:

  1. Using your favorite editor, edit /etc/sysconfig/network and enable NETWORKING_IPV6 by changing the "no" to a "yes."

    Example:

    NETWORKING=yes
    HOSTNAME=ipv6test.yourdomain.com
    GATEWAY=10.13.40.1
    NETWORKING_IPV6=yes
  2. Next edit /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth1 to add IPv6 parameters.

    Add the following to end of the file:

    IPV6INIT=yes
    IPV6ADDR=YOURIPV6ADDRESS
    IPV6_DEFAULTGW=YOURGATEWAY

    Example:

    IPV6INIT=yes
    IPV6ADDR=2607:f0d0:2001:0000:0000:0000:0000:0010/64
    IPV6_DEFAULTGW=2607:f0d0:2001:0000:0000:0000:0000:0001
  3. Once you have successfully added your assigned IP addresses, you must restart networking with this command:
    [root@ipv6test /]# service network restart

Once you have completed these steps on your respective OS, you should be able to communicate over the IPv6 stack. To test, you can ping ipv6.google.com and see if it works.

3. Bind Your New IPv6 Address to Apache/IIS

Now that you have more IPv6 addresses for your server(s) than what's available to the entire world in IPv4 space, you must bind them to IIS or Apache. This is done the similarly to the way you bind IPv4 addresses.

In IIS, all IPs that have been added to the system will now be available for use in the website properties. Within Apache, you will add a few directives to ensure your web servers is listening on the IPv6 stack ... which brings us to a very important point when it comes to discussing IPv6. Due to the fact that it's full of colons (:), you can’t just write out the IP as you would a 32-bit address.

IPv6 addresses must be specified in square brackets or the optional port number could not be determined. To enable Apache to listen to both stacks on separate sockets you will need to add a new "Listen" directive:

Listen [::]:80
Listen 0.0.0.0:80

And for your Virtual Hosts, the will look like this:

<VirtualHost [2101:db8::a00:200f:fda7:00ea]>
ServerAdmin webmaster@yourdomain.com
DocumentRoot /www/docs/ipv6test.yourdomain.com
ServerName ipv6test.yourdomain.com
ErrorLog logs/ipv6test.yourdomain.com-error_log
TransferLog logs/ipv6test.yourdomain.com-access_log
<VirtualHost>

4. Add Addresses to DNS

The final step in getting up and running is to add your new IPv6 addresses to your DNS server. If you're using a IPv6 enabled DNS server, you will simply insert an 'AAAA' resource record (aka quad-A record) for your host.

5. Test Your Server's IPv6 Accessibility

While your DNS is propagating, you can still test your webserver to see if it responds to the IP you assigned by using square brackets in your browser: http://[2101:db8::a00:200f:fda7:00ea]

This test, of course, will only work if your computer is on a IPv6 network. If you are limited to IPv4, you will need sign up with a tunnel broker or switch to an ISP that offers IPv6 connectivity.

After about 24 hours, your server and new host should be ready to serve websites on the IPv6 stack.

Good luck!

-Harold

Comments

January 24th, 2011 at 11:48am

Unfortunately, this isn't true for all your customers. Customers hosted in former The Planet's data centers apparently can't order IPv6 addresses at all, at least not through any easily identifiable means.

March 1st, 2011 at 7:31pm

If you're a former The Planet customer you're hosed. Bought a new server a year and a half back with the intent of getting IPv6 once ThePlanet was ready to go(sales told me that it wouldn't be a problem). SoftLayer buys theplanet and now I can either not have IPv6 or I have to buy a new server and migrate everything over. One of those things that upsets me enough that I'm thinking of taking my business elsewhere.

March 2nd, 2011 at 4:37am

Unfortunately ThePlanet customers are treated like crap now.

As the SL support says: "Unfortuneately, IPv6 is not available on a legacy The Planet server. If you require IPv6, you will need to order another server on The SoftLayer network and migrate to that server."

I am totally disappointed...

March 2nd, 2011 at 2:04pm

Servers need IPv6-capable network hardware throughout their full network path to be able to host IPv6 addresses. The legacy network infrastructure at The Planet does not fully support IPv6 addressing, so there’s no immediate time line for IPv6 capability on servers in those facilities.

It's not as much a matter of treating servers on The Planet's legacy platform as any less valuable, we just can't make any kind of ETA when it comes to replacing the legacy network infrastructure. Following the merger, all new servers are provisioned on the SoftLayer platform, and the demand for IPv6 isn't very high from The Planet's legacy customer base at this time .... That's not to say people like you guys (Nick and Victor) aren't out there, but it's been a tough balancing act to figure out what's best for the business as we move forward.

The plan for right now is to offer IPv6 exclusively on the SoftLayer platform and make the transition to a server as easy (and affordable) as it can be. We don't want you to be unhappy with the service you're getting, and the decisions about the IPv6 capabilities on The Planet's legacy infrastructure aren't about placing value in one legacy customer over another ... As a consolidated company, the investment required for upgrades across all of The Planet's legacy facilities isn't justified by the demand at this time, but that's not to say it's completely out of the question as IPv6 becomes more and more important.

If IPv6 is important to your business right now, let us help you move to a platform that enables that capability immediately. The short-term hassle will pay off in the long run, and we'll do our best to make it as easy as possible. If I can help you request the best deal possible, let me know: khazard@softlayer.com

March 22nd, 2011 at 4:50pm

My understanding was that ThePlanet was already upgrading their network for IPV6, so it's not like all of their network needs to be upgraded, just what was remaining?

Even then, I'd be glad to move our servers over to the SL network but Red Hat 6 isn't available there for some unknown reason (in Beta testing we're told, but with no expected or even estimated delivery date ??).

Overall, and I could have been fooled even after 5 years of ThePlanet support, I have to say that the "trust index" of the responses from SL don't seem to measure up to what ThePlanet provided.

What I'm left thinking is that ThePlanet was bought for it's income source and since all new systems will be on the SL platform, ThePlanet's "well will dry up" after the equipment is depreciated fully, and with minimal capital expenditures. Not that it's a bad business decision to do that, and I suppose you can only "suggest strongly" to move to SL (wink, wink) without losing your ThePlanet income stream..

So, get Redhat 6 online and we'll be moving in :)

Z

Thanks,
Z

Z

May 3rd, 2011 at 11:37pm

Same feeling here, bought a server with the planet 2 years ago and was told ipv6 upgrades were being done. Softlayer purchase happens and now I'm told I need a new server. I feel cheated to say the least

June 5th, 2011 at 2:41am

Say you that 64 block on a server, when a app from the server that is used to list all IPs attached to a machine due to some functions it relies on, wouldn't that operation affect performance sightly -- say it is done frequently?

June 7th, 2011 at 9:42am

Good question, Hennet. That's one of the big reasons control panel providers like cPanel and Parallels have taken so long to work IPv6 implementation into their production versions. The latest release of Parallels Plesk is IPv6-enabled, and cPanel has IPv6 functionality on its release road map. While efficiency may suffer in the near term due to the volume of addresses, it's a necessary evil when facing the depletion of IPv4 addresses and the need to be able to continue after the pool dries up.

April 6th, 2012 at 7:10am

We have several Citrix 5.6 servers at SoftLayer.

Does Citrix 5.6 support IPv6?

What version of Citrix supports IPv6?

If there is a version of Citrix that supports IPv6, does SoftLayer support and provision that version? Can SoftLayer do Citrix 5.6 to that version migrations?

The other issue with supporting IPv6 is we use Parallels H-Sphere for hosting automation. They don't support IPv6; and their next version due out 4/30/2012 (though it will likely come out in May/June) will not support IPv6.

Please note there is currently zero (0) migration path for Parallels H-Sphere companies to migrate to Parallels Plesk. Parallels H-Sphere is a multi-server hosting automation system compared to cpanel / Plesk that are one off's.

So like many companies, our hands are tied to IPv4 until every partner in the dance mix supports IPv6.

Thank you.

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Comments

January 24th, 2011 at 11:48am

Unfortunately, this isn't true for all your customers. Customers hosted in former The Planet's data centers apparently can't order IPv6 addresses at all, at least not through any easily identifiable means.

March 1st, 2011 at 7:31pm

If you're a former The Planet customer you're hosed. Bought a new server a year and a half back with the intent of getting IPv6 once ThePlanet was ready to go(sales told me that it wouldn't be a problem). SoftLayer buys theplanet and now I can either not have IPv6 or I have to buy a new server and migrate everything over. One of those things that upsets me enough that I'm thinking of taking my business elsewhere.

March 2nd, 2011 at 4:37am

Unfortunately ThePlanet customers are treated like crap now.

As the SL support says: "Unfortuneately, IPv6 is not available on a legacy The Planet server. If you require IPv6, you will need to order another server on The SoftLayer network and migrate to that server."

I am totally disappointed...

March 2nd, 2011 at 2:04pm

Servers need IPv6-capable network hardware throughout their full network path to be able to host IPv6 addresses. The legacy network infrastructure at The Planet does not fully support IPv6 addressing, so there’s no immediate time line for IPv6 capability on servers in those facilities.

It's not as much a matter of treating servers on The Planet's legacy platform as any less valuable, we just can't make any kind of ETA when it comes to replacing the legacy network infrastructure. Following the merger, all new servers are provisioned on the SoftLayer platform, and the demand for IPv6 isn't very high from The Planet's legacy customer base at this time .... That's not to say people like you guys (Nick and Victor) aren't out there, but it's been a tough balancing act to figure out what's best for the business as we move forward.

The plan for right now is to offer IPv6 exclusively on the SoftLayer platform and make the transition to a server as easy (and affordable) as it can be. We don't want you to be unhappy with the service you're getting, and the decisions about the IPv6 capabilities on The Planet's legacy infrastructure aren't about placing value in one legacy customer over another ... As a consolidated company, the investment required for upgrades across all of The Planet's legacy facilities isn't justified by the demand at this time, but that's not to say it's completely out of the question as IPv6 becomes more and more important.

If IPv6 is important to your business right now, let us help you move to a platform that enables that capability immediately. The short-term hassle will pay off in the long run, and we'll do our best to make it as easy as possible. If I can help you request the best deal possible, let me know: khazard@softlayer.com

March 22nd, 2011 at 4:50pm

My understanding was that ThePlanet was already upgrading their network for IPV6, so it's not like all of their network needs to be upgraded, just what was remaining?

Even then, I'd be glad to move our servers over to the SL network but Red Hat 6 isn't available there for some unknown reason (in Beta testing we're told, but with no expected or even estimated delivery date ??).

Overall, and I could have been fooled even after 5 years of ThePlanet support, I have to say that the "trust index" of the responses from SL don't seem to measure up to what ThePlanet provided.

What I'm left thinking is that ThePlanet was bought for it's income source and since all new systems will be on the SL platform, ThePlanet's "well will dry up" after the equipment is depreciated fully, and with minimal capital expenditures. Not that it's a bad business decision to do that, and I suppose you can only "suggest strongly" to move to SL (wink, wink) without losing your ThePlanet income stream..

So, get Redhat 6 online and we'll be moving in :)

Z

Thanks,
Z

Z

May 3rd, 2011 at 11:37pm

Same feeling here, bought a server with the planet 2 years ago and was told ipv6 upgrades were being done. Softlayer purchase happens and now I'm told I need a new server. I feel cheated to say the least

June 5th, 2011 at 2:41am

Say you that 64 block on a server, when a app from the server that is used to list all IPs attached to a machine due to some functions it relies on, wouldn't that operation affect performance sightly -- say it is done frequently?

June 7th, 2011 at 9:42am

Good question, Hennet. That's one of the big reasons control panel providers like cPanel and Parallels have taken so long to work IPv6 implementation into their production versions. The latest release of Parallels Plesk is IPv6-enabled, and cPanel has IPv6 functionality on its release road map. While efficiency may suffer in the near term due to the volume of addresses, it's a necessary evil when facing the depletion of IPv4 addresses and the need to be able to continue after the pool dries up.

April 6th, 2012 at 7:10am

We have several Citrix 5.6 servers at SoftLayer.

Does Citrix 5.6 support IPv6?

What version of Citrix supports IPv6?

If there is a version of Citrix that supports IPv6, does SoftLayer support and provision that version? Can SoftLayer do Citrix 5.6 to that version migrations?

The other issue with supporting IPv6 is we use Parallels H-Sphere for hosting automation. They don't support IPv6; and their next version due out 4/30/2012 (though it will likely come out in May/June) will not support IPv6.

Please note there is currently zero (0) migration path for Parallels H-Sphere companies to migrate to Parallels Plesk. Parallels H-Sphere is a multi-server hosting automation system compared to cpanel / Plesk that are one off's.

So like many companies, our hands are tied to IPv4 until every partner in the dance mix supports IPv6.

Thank you.

Leave a Reply

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