IPv6 and NAT: Do They Go Well Hand in Hand?

ipv6 natNetwork Address Translation (NAT) was frequently used along with IPv4. This was because of the paucity of addresses. IPv6 has eliminated this problem in a significant way. This latest Internet Protocol has been specifically designed keeping mobile devices in mind. In this tutorial, we talk about NAT being redundant with the arrival of IPv6.  We assume that you have a fair understanding of networking concepts. If not, we suggest that you first take a basic course to understand computer networking.

What is Network Address Translation

Network Address Translation (NAT) is a technique that translates local network addresses or the internal IP addresses used within an organization into globally unique IP addresses. A relatively few real IP addresses are mapped to the abundant local IP addresses created locally by the proxy server foraddressing purposes.Let’s take a look at the merits and demerits of Network Address Translation.

Pros and Cons of using NAT

NAT offers a simple and effective solution to the persistent problem of limited address space. Secondly, it restricts direct access to the LAN resources making the work of hackers difficult.

NAT on the other hand does not allow a genuine end-to-end connectivity which is required by certain real time applications.This also creates complications in the functioning of tunneling protocols.  It is redundant today because IPv6 has done away with the shortage of address space and security concerns.

What is Internet Protocol Version 6?

IPv6 also known as Internet Protocol Version 6 is the next generation Internet protocol which offers several advantages over the earlier versions. IPv6 is also called IPng, where ng stands for Next Generation. It’s a network layer protocol. Data is sent from one computer to another computer over packet switch networks. (You can learn more about the Internet Protocos – TCP and IP – in this course)

The problem with IPv4 was the scarcity of addresses to connect computers in a packet switch network.Since IPv4 has 32 bits, it allows a maximum of four billion addresses. On the other hand IPv6 has 128 bits and therefore allows 3.4 x 10 38 addresses. Also, multicast delivery is optional in IPv4 while being standard in IPv6.  IPv6 also accounts for Mobile IP which enables you to roam between different networks without losing your established IP address.

Let’s take a look at why you should consider adopting IPv6.

Benefits of using IPv6 NAT

There is a rising demand for IP addresses today because of the increase in the number of smartphones and other wireless devices. Each of them will need a unique IP address. The latest Internet protocol IPv6 has the ability to provide unique address to each and every device connected to the Internet. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of this protocol.

  • More efficient routing: In IPv6 routing tables become more compact. This makes routing more efficient and hierarchical. Also the fragmentation is the responsibility of the source device instead of the router.
  • Increase in the efficiency of packet processing: There is no IP level checksum in IP version 6. Hence, the checksum does not need to be recalculated at every router hop. You can do away with the checksum in this version as most link-layer technologies incorporate checksum and error control capabilities.
  • Flow of information: The Internet protocol version 6 allows support for multicast. In this bandwidth intensive packet flows are send to multiple destination simultaneously which saves network bandwidth. Also the IPv6 header has an additional field known as “Flow Label” which can identify packets belonging to the same flow.
  • Network configuration is made simpler: One of the features of IPv6 is the address auto-configuration.A router will dispatch the prefix of the local link in its router advertisements. A router advertisement will always contain a source link-layer address for IPv6. A host generates self IP address by appending its MAC (Media Access Control) address and converts it into EUI(Extended Universal Identifier) 64 bit format. In the end its converted to the 64 bits of the local link prefix.
  • Provision for new services: The elimination of NAT allowed the introduction of new and valuable services. It became easier to create and maintain peer-to-peer networks. Popular services such as VIOP and QOS(Quality of Service) have become more robust.
  • Security: IPv6 incorporates confidentiality, authentication and data integrity through IPSec. Note that this protocol is less likely to be blocked by corporate firewalls as compared to IPv4.
  • Compatibility with wireless sensor networks: IPv6 can be used along with wireless sensor networks. The point of attachment of the sensor network is either fixed or dynamic. Incase the sensor network is mobile, a dynamic point of attachment is needed.

Types of IPv6 addresses

There are categories of IPv6 addresses. Let’s take a look at each of them.

  1. Unicast addresses: It acts as an identifier for an individual interface. If you’re using IPv6 protocol, then the packet sent to a Unicast address will be delivered to the single interface identified by that address.
  2. Multicast addresses: This address is an identifier for a group of interfaces that belongs to different nodes. A packet to send to a multicast address is delivered to the multiple interfaces
  3.  Any-cast addresses: Here packet having a particular any-cast address is delivered to one of the interfaces identified by the address.

With all of this background into IPv6, you’re well on your way to understanding networks better. If you’d like, you can take it up a notch with this course on Network Engineering. One interesting development that’s evolving along with IPv6, is the SPDY TCP protocol, that greatly improves internet page loads. You may want to look up the details with this SPDY course.  We do hope you had fun learning about IPv6 and NAT.  Do share your thoughts with us in the comments below.