Mike was wondering whether his ISP is giving him what he needs to start an IPv6 pilot within his enterprise network. He wrote:
So I got an IPv6 assignment with a /120 mask (basically our IPv4/24 network mapped to IPv6) and two smaller networks to use for links between our external router and the ISP.
Believe it or not, I’m not making this up. I was as amazed as you probably are.
Dear Mike’s ISP: where were you when the rest of the world was preparing to deploy IPv6? Did you read IPv6 Unicast Address Assignment Considerations (RFC 5375) or IPv6 Address Allocation and Assignment Policy from RIPE or your regional registry?
Let’s start with prefix lengths. RFC 5375 is very explicit (section 3):
Using a subnet prefix length other than a /64 will break many features of IPv6, including Neighbor Discovery (ND), Secure Neighbor Discovery (SEND) [RFC3971], privacy extensions [RFC4941], parts of Mobile IPv6 [RFC4866], Protocol Independent Multicast - Sparse Mode (PIM-SM) with Embedded-RP [RFC3956], and Site Multihoming by IPv6 Intermediation (SHIM6) [SHIM6], among others.
It’s therefore highly recommended to use a /64 prefix on every subnet. The use of longer prefixes on point-to-point inter-router links is debatable (some people recommend /126 or /127, others /112). Properly-implemented network devices have no problem with shorter subnets; after all, IPv6 is classless. However, to ensure you won’t get a hiccup from a just-good-enough-too-cheap-to-pass box someone will eventually connect to your network, be conservative and use /64 everywhere.
Summary: assigning someone a public /120 prefix is ... let’s be diplomatic ... out of touch with reality.
So, Mike got a /120 and tried to make sense out of it. He needs to allocate IPv6 addresses to the whole network and somehow can’t do that with a /120. Here is the next bit of wisdom passed to him by a helpful colleague (I’m not making this up either):
I asked someone more familiar (but no hands-on-experience) about this, and got the answer that I should use a link-local or unique-local addresses beginning with fe08 or fd for all computers within the company, the same way we use RFC1918 addresses today, and then just NAT them to the /120 network I got assigned from the ISP.
We were all confused by the plethora of different types of IPv6 addresses (Packet Pushers IPv6 podcast has a lively debate on that topic), but they are really not that hard to grasp. Let’s over-simplify them a bit:
- Link-local addresses are a better solution for unnumbered interfaces and other communication needs before you get a real IPv6 address (for example, DHCPv6 request packets are sent from a link-local address);
- Unique local addresses (ULA) can be used for intra-network connectivity (for example, for those hosts and servers that never communicate with the Internet). Your host could have an ULA and a global IPv6 address (or even more than one global address) and use one or the other as needed.
- In most cases, your hosts should have a globally unique IPv6 address.
Regardless of whether you decide to use ULA or not, remember that there is no NAT in IPv6 (although some people are seriously longing for NAT66). Let me repeat that: there is no NAT in IPv6.
Mike is thus stuck: he needs a /64 on every subnet in his network and got a meager /120 from the ISP. What’s wrong? The ISP’s IPv6 address allocation policy.
A minimum allocation an ISP has to give to a residential end-user is a /64. If a residential end-user needs multiple subnets, he should get a /56. Minimum end-site allocation is /48 (Mike should thus get a /48, not a /120). Minimum provider-independent allocation assigned by RIPE or ARIN is /48.
Mike could get 65000 /64 prefixes from the /48 prefix he should have got from the ISP, probably more than enough to number his entire network. If you have a larger network, it’s not hard to get a larger allocation; you just have to provide the paperwork documenting your needs.
Summary: If you are an enterprise customer and your ISP is giving you anything less than a /48, it’s time to consider changing the ISP.
If you’re planning IPv6 deployment in your enterprise network, let’s consider the Enterprise IPv6 Deployment Workshop.
I did a number of CIO/CTO-level technical presentations recently, giving them a fair assessment of why they might want to consider IPv6 and what the hurdles are. If you need something along these lines, just let me know (and if you have a Telepresence system, we might be able to hook them together and have an interesting “virtual live meeting” experience).
If you need IPv6 readiness audit or network design/implementation help, there’s always our Professional Services team. We’ve been running IPv6 internally for quite a while and we were one of the first IPv6-multihomed enterprises in Europe using PI address space, so we’ve gathered a bit of experience on the way.