#3)IPv6 has better ability for autoconfiguring devices than IPv4

Whenever a node plugs in and wants to be part of a network, IP address information and router information is required to properly configure the node and get it running. In the past, when there were fewer devices and computers in a network running IP, almost all of them were statically configured and IP addresses were manually assigned. However, with the rapid proliferation of personal computers (PC) and other IP-enabled devices, for efficient device management and reusing of resources, it became absolutely essential to consider some kind of autoconfiguration.

IPv4 uses the stateful address autoconfiguration protocol, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). In the stateful autoconfiguration model, a host obtains the interface addresses as well as other required information such as the configuration information and parameters from a server. The DHCP server maintains a manually administered list of hosts and keeps track of which addresses have been assigned to which hosts.

DHCP server diagram

[Source: Cisco]

Challenge to IPv4

With even more computers and devices using IP, there was need for an IP protocol that would ensure easy and automatic configuration of devices and routers. Further, new devices that are using IP now are getting simpler and may be used in environments where particular server dependencies may not be acceptable.

How does IPv6 provide a solution?

IPv6 offers automatic configuration and more importantly, simple configuration mechanisms. Known as plug-and-play autoconfiguration, these capabilities are way beyond what IPv4 currently offers. IPv6 offers DHCPv6, which is an autoconfiguration similar to IPv4 DHCP and offers stateful address autoconfiguration. In addition, IPv6 also offers stateless or serverless address autoconfiguration.

In stateless autoconfiguration, a host can automatically configure its own IPv6 address and does not need any assistance from a stateful address server. Entire IPv6 prefixes rather than just an address are delivered to a device. This particular feature enables routers to easily autoconfigure their interfaces and can be used very effectively in broadband access networks to dynamically provide customer gateways.

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