BlueCat Networks has enhanced its IP address management software to aid network operators in the transition to IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol.
BlueCat has added several IPv6-related features to its Proteus IPAM v 3.5, including new tools for planning, modelling and managing IPv6 networks. Proteus IPAM v3.5 includes the ability to discover IPv6 traffic on networks and the ability to manage environments that run IPv6 alongside the predecessor protocol, known as IPv4, in what's called a dual stack setup.
"We've always had support for IPv6, but we've added all the pieces like discovery and reconciliation, which is significant," says Luc Roy, vice president of product management and marketing for BlueCat. "A lot of people are using the stateless auto-configuration feature of IPv6. Now customers have a way to discover and keep track of all the IPv6 addresses being used on their networks."
BlueCat sells software and appliances that handle IP address management, Domain Name System and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol services for network managers. The latest version of BlueCat's Proteus software has more flexibility for network operators to create and configure blocks of IP addresses that represent a subset of a network. This feature simplifies IPv6 planning and helps prevent addressing errors.
"We have a lot of customers looking to get prepared for IPv6," Roy says. "They don't see the business urgency, but they want to be prepared in case the CIO comes back to them and asks about IPv6. This feature is a little bit self-guided and applies best practices when people start configuring everything."
The next release of Proteus IPAM, due out in the first half of 2011, will add support for DHCPv6. IPv6 is the biggest upgrade in the 40-year history of the Internet. Forward-looking carriers and enterprises are deploying IPv6 because the Internet is running out of IP addresses using the current standard, known as IPv4.
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand uses 128-bit addresses and supports a huge number of devices, 2 to the 128th power.
About 94.5% of IPv4 address space has been allocated as of September 3, 2010, according to the American Registry for Internet Numbers, which delegates blocks of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to carriers and enterprises in North America. Experts say IPv4 addresses could run out as early as December but will certainly be gone by the end of 2011