Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Still on the fence regarding IPv6 deployment?

IPv6 rollout appears to be moving slowly, and last week's Internet Society announcement that IPv6 traffic has reached 2% of total Internet traffic as measured by hits on google’s web servers would seem to reinforce this perception. While 2% penetration represents a doubling of IPv6 traffic since last year, the total is as yet unimpressive.

But deploying IPv6 is not a trivial undertaking. While recent vintage networking equipment and device operating systems natively support IPv6, application and operational aspects require careful attention. Organizations need to verify proper application reachability and functionality over IPv6. Applications utilizing the current sockets or winsock equivalent interface to the TCP/IP layer should work seamlessly over IPv6. Those applications storing or visually displaying IP addresses of course may require modification to properly handle IPv6 addresses, and any hard-coded IP addresses may require modification to use multiple IP addresses or better yet, DNS to retrieve currently assigned IP addresses as appropriate.

From an operations perspective, organizations must be able to provision, monitor, troubleshoot, secure and manage their networks, and IPv6 adds an entirely new dimension to current network management systems and procedures designed for managing an IPv4 network. At a basic level, this evolution to managing a dual protocol IPv4-IPv6 network requires assessment of current systems capabilities, identification of required mitigation steps, planning for training of IT, networking and help desk staff, tabulation of a resource budget to perform such mitigation and training, then planning and executing the IPv6 rollout.

The effort to deploy IPv6 does take some time and investment, but it should prove well worthwhile for those who plan ahead. As the reach of the Internet continues to expand particularly fueled by growth in mobility, IPv4 address space and IPv4-IPv6 carrier grade NATs will ultimately exhaust their capacities and IPv6 traffic will likely continue to double each year if not grow more rapidly. Organizations who are prepared for this eventuality should enjoy uninterrupted web visitors and traffic growth opportunities.

But if you’re still skeptical about the need to deploy IPv6, contented with the fact that you have plenty of IPv4 address space, I invite you to try our IPv6 quick assessment tool. This simple tool enables you to select the relative importance of basic business drivers or initiatives that may be impacted by your support of IPv6 in the future. The tool provides a qualitative summary for each driver with a brief overall assessment and recommended timeframes for progressing your deployment plans in terms of completing your assessment of what it will take to implement IPv6, your project planning, and your deployment completion.

This basic tool provides food for thought and perhaps some motivation for you (or your boss) to initiate an IPv6 assessment project. The overall deployment process may take some time, and your assessment is key to estimating how much time depending on the level of IPv6 you already have implemented by virtue of current device, applications and vendor support. Performing this assessment up front will enable you to scope out your implementation time interval. This interval is the lead time from which to begin your deployment project working back from when your organizational drivers are expected to demand IPv6 support. So even if you still don't foresee deploying IPv6 any time soon, performing an assessment should arm you with an estimate of how long it will take you from the time you change your mind to join the global Internet!

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