Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the named successor to the current networking protocol that supports the transport of traffic across the Internet, is a more mature standard that appropriately balances compatibility against the addition of capabilities and enhancements that are important for current and future growth of the Internet. It has a large address space that effectively deals with the address exhaustion present in the existing standard and contains improved support in a number of key areas that will better address the needs of big data and other cyberinfrastructure initiatives. Partner institutions and researchers who use IPv6 will increasingly turn to institutions that can provide this service for collaborative research and prospective students and faculty will increasingly use its availability as a metric of a school’s technological readiness. Transitioning to IPv6 can’t happen overnight—incorporating IPv6 support within existing network infrastructures poses certain challenges at any institution. You need to start today to sell the concept to your campus administration and take appropriate steps to initiate the planning process, including assessing and addressing your institution’s structural preparedness and developing technical, security, and rollout plans for IPv6.
From time to time, ECAR Working Groups may produce reports that are written that may be time sensitive or that may be important to share outside of ECAR in order to provide the most benefit to ECAR members and the higher education community as a whole. The purpose of this paper is to help universities transition to IPv6 sooner and more smoothly. The earlier the release, the earlier the benefit to ECAR members begins. If the desired transition is delayed, there is substantial likelihood of severe problems in the value of the network to our university community, including ECAR members. It is for this reason that the usual five-month embargo has been shortened to three months and that we are making this paper publicly available at this time. We hope that the paper can be used to help make the case to campus administration and take appropriate steps to initiate the planning process.