Transition to IPv6 without Impacting Your NetFlow Reporting

Transition to IPv6 without Impacting Your NetFlow Reporting

In February 2011 the IANA assigned the last top level (/8) block of free IPv4 addresses. Although the standard for IPv6 was proposed in the mid-late 1990s, to date mostly the government and educational institutions and service providers serving these markets have deployed IPv6 in their networks. Needless to say, the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 will only accelerate from here on out due to the significant explosion in mobile devices like tablets and smart phones; IP addresses are being consumed at much faster rates than in the early 2000s.

So, why am I writing about transitions from IPv4 to IPv6? Well it turns out that doing so presents some unique challenges for organizations from an IT management perspective. Most network performance management tools have built support for IPv6 in regards to polling both IPv4, IPv6 and supporting dual stack environments for data collection and fault management. This includes the ability to communicate over IPv6 as well as properly represent IPv6 address in the management GUI.

Today I am going to focus on the impact of this transition from IPv4 to IPv6 on NetFlow collection and reporting. As networks enter a transition period between the two IP standards, there's a strong need for IT organizations to combine application data from both IPv4 and IPv6 communication and bandwidth consumption. However, the NetFlow standards define IPv4 and IPv6 addresses as separate fields in the flow data. In fact, in some cases NetFlow will contain IPv4 addresses encoded in IPv6 addresses. This typically means users would have to create separate reports for IPv4 and IPv6 traffic. This becomes problematic when the user is more concerned about understanding the total traffic by application. Users would then have to manually combine data from separate reports. This can be time consuming as well as error prone.

As always, our top notch development team recognized this early on and made sure that when a SevOne user is leveraging our NetFlow capabilities, this process is seamless. By building on top of our application driven NetFlow reporting, users can rely on SevOne's single Application IP and Client IP fields to represent both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. This is critical in that now from a reporting perspective, users can see total application or bandwidth consumption regardless of IP address type. In the case described above where an IPv4 address is encoded in an IPv6 address, SevOne will display these addresses in IPv4 notation for ease of reading. This level of integration also goes well beyond reports. When creating filters, users can express addresses in IPv4 or IPv6 formats and IPv4 and IPv6 addresses can be included in the same subnet definitions.

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