Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the set of protocols that will replace today's IPv4. IPv6 offers many benefits necessary to support the Internet's continuing expansion—most notably an expanded address space that overcomes pressures in regions such as Africa, Asia, China, and the Middle East. Temporary solutions such as Network Address Translation (NAT)—although effective in the short term—won't provide long-term help. Recognizing that IPv6 is the future, many governments are mandating that their systems and networks support IPv6, including the US government, which has set a transition date of June 30, 2008. If your company does business with entities that use (or plan to use) IPv6, you'll feel the pressure to support IPv6, if only to support communications between your company and your partners. Simply put, IPv6 might become a competitive advantage.

This report begins with a three-part series, the first of which describes IPv6 addressing in detail, focusing on how its addressing scheme works. In two subsequent articles, we describe how to install IPv6 onto Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, and how to configure interfaces with addresses and enable DNS resolution. In a fourth article, we focus on using the Windows Server 2008 to support IPv6 in your environments, including how to use it in the common migration and transition scenarios. The last article in this report is your shoestring to IPv6. By spending very little money and a modicum of your own time, you can set up an IPv6 lab that will help position you for an IPv6 transition when it becomes unavoidable.