The IPv6 Crisis Goes On and On

Carl Weinschenk

This Government Computer News piece suggests that the IPv6 chickens are beginning to come home to roost.

It doesn’t say it that way. The story begins by saying that the U.S. government’s transition of its public-facing IP infrastructures to IP version 6 (IPv6) has not been adequate with “just days to go before the deadline.”

It also says that the European overseer of Internet address (The Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre, or RIPE NCC) has become the second of five registries to start distributing from its final block of addresses. InfoWorld has more on the situation in Europe.

GCN doesn’t say exactly when the government deadline is, but the point is clear: The tendency to wait until the last minute — indeed, the last few seconds — to take proactive steps toward IPv6 compliance has not faded. The sense is that those charged with IPv6 compliance are acting like the college kid who prepares a term paper two days before it is due: In the end, they believe — or at least say — that it all will come out OK. For both the undergrad and the IPv6 folks, that may indeed be the case. Or, at the end of the day, the result could be angry parents and subscribers.

IPv6 is sort of a permanent emergency. eWeek has a nice slideshow outlining the subject, where it is today and how it got to this point. It isn’t that the folks who have raised alarms for most of the past decade were fibbing. It’s that the nature of the emergency, like global warming, is gradual. IPv4 addresses exhaust gradually. Subscriber impact is gradual. Ramping up fixes is gradual in that there are workarounds that make it possible to kick the addressing can down the road for a good time.

But, at some point, the impact will be felt and the government better start brewing some coffee and preparing for a few all-nighters. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers snapshots of where the government, industry and educational community are on IPv6 compliance and activation. Suffice it to say that the percentages are alarming.

In theory, just about all carriers and companies would want to be set with IPv6. But, like the college student who starts working on that term paper two days before it is due, life intercedes. In this case, the issues may justify doing something major that doesn’t generate revenue in an era of lowered budgets, poor profits and strapped staffs. It remains to be seen if organizations will pay a price — or if they will get the paper under the professor’s door in the nick of time.



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