Don't disable IPv6!
On a related topic, there were quite a number of sessions on IPv6, primarily given by Ed Horley, a Microsoft Windows Expert-IT Pro MVP. It's important to understand that the next-generation protocol is built into Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, enabled by default and preferred. Hopefully, this is not the first time you've seen this. In fact, you should have noticed that IPv6 was on by default in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. TechNet has more info on IPv6 support in various products and services.
We all know that the number of IPv4 addresses have been depleted. IPv4 was able to provide about 4.3 billion addresses, and we live in a world with as many as 8 billion people owning one or more devices. IPv6 takes the 32-bit address and boosts it to 128 bits, for a total of 340 undecillion (look it up) possible addresses.
You might think it's best to leave IPv6 alone -- ignore it and forget it. However, this address is available on your systems, and it might be worth figuring out what it does and how it works.
Many companies have deployed IPv6 with their systems, but don't understand its impact on their environment. In addition, they may not fully understand what the OS does with a dual-stack (IPv4/IPv6) situation. Some admins think it's best to disable it or, rather, unbind it from an adapter by going through the TCP/IP settings on that adapter. This is a tried and trusted paradigm for IT admins: If you're not using it, uninstall it or disable it. I normally agree with this concept, but in the case of IPv6, it's a mistake.
Microsoft does all its testing with both IPv6 and IPv4 enabled, so when admins think they're going to disable IPv6, they sometimes end up breaking something and causing all sorts of problems. Learn from their mistakes: Don't disable IPv6 unless you have a very specific application issue -- a highly unlikely scenario.
John Losey, a premier field engineer at Microsoft, says it's not a problem to leave it enabled because "if IPv6 is not utilized within the network infrastructure, leaving IPv6 enabled on the systems will not have an impact on Internet communications, Web browsing, etc. as the NIC would only be configured with a link local address, which is a nonroutable address and can only communicate with systems on its same subnet, bounded by a router. IPv6 is an integral part of the operating system and several Windows components rely on it."
Obviously there's still much to learn about Windows Server 2012 features and IP management, especially in regard to IPv6. I encourage you to tap into all your favorite resources -- books, videos, conferences, and so on -- to get a handle on it as an IT admin.
This story, "Windows Server 2012 makes IP management easy -- even IPv6," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blogand follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.