We’ve read about it on the web, seen it on TV, watched it in movie theaters: the Mayans predicted 2012 as the end of the world! Despite rumors about the predicted end of time resulting from lack of additional space on the rock on which the calendar was carved, I personally believe this was merely the “IPv4 Internet rock”, which has reached its end as a homogeneous entity this year. The Mayans were very sophisticated in their foresight and technology, so we should not underestimate their ability to predict the end of the Internet as we know it!
All kidding aside, with World IPv6 Launch, the Internet has changed forever. Over 2,500 organizations including BT have enabled IPv6 websites permanently in celebration of the launch. This “supply” of web content will be welcomed by a burgeoning population of IPv6 users, arising from insatiable global demand for IP addresses, driven by explosive rates of mobile and wireless subscriber growth, particularly in the eastern hemisphere where IPv4 address space is already depleted. Evolving “smart” initiatives like smart cars, smart homes, etc., featuring vast distribution of IP-addressable probes and devices for remote monitoring and control, promise to be massive consumers of IP addresses as well.
At BT, we’ve been conducting periodic surveys over the last seven years to gauge IPv6 interest and deployment. We just concluded our most recent IPv6 survey in early May and it’s clear that more people are looking into IPv6 this year than in prior years. Key among our findings from the survey was that 13 per cent of respondents indicated that they had already deployed IPv6 across all or a portion of their networks. This is up from only five per cent last year, a substantial jump. Another 44 per cent are in the process of deploying IPv6 or will begin deployment within two years.
The need for organizations to deploy IPv6 is primarily driven by the fact that IPv4 and IPv6 do not natively interoperate. As the proportion of IPv6 users increases with continuing IP address demand, the best approach to enable communications with these users is to deploy IPv6 while maintaining your IPv4 implementation. Survey respondents agreed that such a “dual stack” approach was favored over tunneling and translation approaches. This entails assigning both an IPv4 address and an IPv6 address to each device on the network, say your web servers for example.
When assigning two addresses to your web server, you’ll need to make sure your domain name server, DNS, is configured properly to direct your website “www address” to both the assigned IPv4 address and the IPv6 address. The dual stack approach enables end users of either protocol, IPv4 or IPv6, to reach your Internet servers, and to allow your users to communicate with other Internet servers (in accordance with your security policies of course!).
Should you decide not to deploy IPv6, your Internet presence will continue serving IPv4 users, but as the density of IPv6 users on the Internet grows, these users will be unable to reach your Internet sites. And your users will be unable to reach theirs. We recommend you begin planning now or in the near future even if you don’t have immediate deployment plans. The process of deployment may be relatively simple or very complex and time-consuming, depending on your deployment scope and current networking and computing environment. Planning for IPv6 deployment in advance can help identify steps to deployment and streamline the process in preparation for the time when deployment is deemed necessary.
If you need assistance with IPv6 deployment planning, BT can help with assessment, planning, implementation and IPv4-IPv6 network operations. Key among tools used throughout this process is our IP address management solutions from BT Diamond IP. These solutions enable assessment and planning of your IPv4 and IPv6 address plans, and are indispensable in the ongoing management of address space within an organization’s IPv4-IPv6 network.