Is 2013 the year of the IPv6 apocalypse?

February 20, 2013 Claranet Limited

‘IPv6 (and this time we mean it). The backbone of the Internet is straining. And we’re running out of time.’

Deloitte’s recent Tech Trends 2013 report throws up a title and tagline which sounds as if it’s been lifted from a science fiction film. Perhaps this hyperbole is borne out of frustration that the uptake of IPv6 has been slow from a customer and enterprise perspective, despite various adoption pushes, and that this all important group needs to buy-in, driving a lucrative new market. Equally, could it be that analysts, infrastructure providers and the like have seen the future and are moving to avert a global catastrophe? It is probably a mixture of both and while the ratio will vary depending on your perspective, there are some things we do know for certain: more devices accessing the internet means more need for IP addresses, the world will run out of IPv4 addresses, the future lies with IPv6 and making sure your organisation is ready once this new protocol becomes a standard will ensure your business isn’t left behind.

Like the melting polar caps, there isn’t an easily predictable date when the IPv6 flood will wash any IPv4-only businesses away, but Deloitte suggest that ‘enterprises that work with customers and business partners via the public internet will move to version 6 as their primary communication method in the next two or three years.’ Instead of scaring businesses into a knee-jerk adoption with an arbitrary but concrete deadline, there are a number of compelling business reasons, according to Deloitte, that might prompt businesses to make themselves IPv6 ready. As the report points out, cost and management efficiencies can be expected. There are however other ways to persuade your organisation to adopt IPv6 with the lure of immediate benefits.

One such catalyst for organisational buy-in and change is to incorporate IPv6 readiness with upgrades to other technologies, many of which are IPv6 native, and to explain that these progressive technologies are necessary enablers of business strategy. For example, embracing mobile working might mean that 4G connectivity is utilised as a platform, IPv6 is a logical choice for pairing with 4G as the protocol is vital for supporting a large number of wireless handsets (smartphones, tablets and laptops), meaning it makes sense to overhaul the entire infrastructure at the same time. Sneaky perhaps, but this approach yields tangible benefits in the short term, and not just when IPv6 really comes to dominate the internet. It is also probably more effective than worrying colleagues by ranting about the impending apocalypse…

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