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Brocade touts IPv6 experience with Hurricane Electric

Carolyn Duffy Marsan | March 14, 2011
Brocade Networks announced last week that it provides the routers and switches that underpin the network backbone operated by Hurricane Electric, a leader in next-generation Internet services using the emerging IPv6 standard.

Brocade is focused on the emerging IPv6 market because the Internet is running out of address space using IPv4.

In February, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) announced that the free pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses was depleted. Experts say it will take anywhere from three to six months for the regional Internet registries to distribute most of the remaining IPv4 addresses to carriers.

IPv4 has run out of address space because it uses 32-bit addresses and can support only 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices -- 2 to the 128th power. The problem for network operators is that IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4.

When the last of the IPv4 addresses are distributed, carriers and other network operators will have to either deploy IPv6 or use network address translation (NAT) devices to share IPv4 addresses among multiple customers or translate between IPv4 and IPv6 networks, which could slow down network performance.

By demonstrating support from service provider customers like Hurricane Electric, Brocade is hoping it will win more business from network operators upgrading to IPv6.

"Brocade will continue to innovate in IPv6 to create one of the industry's most complete set of IPv6 unicast, multicast and transition protocols,'' said Ken Cheng, vice president of Service Provider Products for Brocade, in a statement. "Brocade has a strong roadmap to support both enterprise and service provider IPv6 dual-stack environments, and we continue to be a leading player in helping governments and organizations worldwide in their transition to IPv6."


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