IPv6 is Tactical, NDN is Strategic

by Sorell Slaymaker

Enterprises should limit their investment in IPv6 and see it as a tactical protocol that will be displaced by Named Data Networking (NDN).

My last assignment with the National Science Foundation in 1996 was IPv6.  Even 20 years ago, we understood that IPv6 was a tactical protocol designed to correct the limitations of IPv4 such as the limited number of IP addresses.  As enterprises exhaust their IPv4 networks, they should look past IPv6 as the answer to their network challenges.  IPv6 has the following limitations:

  • Additional Overhead – For voice traffic, IoT, and other network traffic that has small packets, the additional overhead associated with IPv6 increases bandwidth requirements
  • Minimal Internetworking QoS – Going from IPv4 to IPv6 and between NAT boundaries causes QoS and routing policy information to be lost
  • Zero Application Awareness – Still a packet by packet routing technology and is unaware
  • Lack of Security – The Internet Architecture Board recommends that all future protocols support end-to-end encryption

NDN started in 2010 as a National Science Foundation research project to create the architecture for the future Internet.  NDN changes the paradigm used by traditional networks and moves away from Internet Protocol (IP). NDN defines a network to transport data containers between two endpoints with unique names (similar to URLs) with blocks of data that can be stored, digitally signed, and transmitted across nodes.

The killer application for IPv6 is larger address spaces but at a price of additional overhead.  Yes, there are some other advantages to IPv6 including multi-casting, but nothing that is driving enterprises.  With only ~12% of IPv4 addresses being used, the IPv4 address problem is more of an allocation challenge than lack of addresses.  We can limp along in the IPv4 world for another decade until something truly better comes along.  NDN has the potential to be that truly better approach as the type of traffic on the Internet changes (lots of video and content), and the needs of the Internet change (more security).