IPv6: A Crisis, Finally

Carl Weinschenk

There finally is some good news about IPv6: Executives are realizing that the sky indeed is falling-and that they must do something to prop it up.

Of course, the fact that a crisis exists isn't the good news. The positive here is that after years of denial, there is evidence-at least in this Network World article-that industry honchos finally are taking notice of the 500-pound gorilla in the network. The story says that Verizon Business is receiving "close to five or six" times the questions that it had a year ago.

Currently, the Internet addressing scheme is called IPv4. For years, experts have been warning that IPv4 is inching closer to exhaustion and that the next iteration of the protocol, IPv6, must be implemented. It's been, to say the least, a hard sell.

The radical increase in interest among bigwigs described by Verizon Business is good to hear. It's also interesting to see what CIOs and other executives are concerned about:

CIOs are asking Verizon Business about how to maintain end-to-end connectivity across the Internet as some users upgrade to IPv6 and others remain on IPv4. They also are concerned about the latest mobile devices-such as Verizon's own LTE handsets-which must support IPv6. And they're asking how to ensure that their primary applications-whether commercial or home-grown-will support IPv6 traffic.

Verizon Business offers tips for the transition to IPv6. The advice includes studying the precise impact of the current situation of the network in question, determining if a prospective network provider has a plan for the transition, investing in IPv6 hardware and software, and developing an internal and external transition plan. In other words, use your head.

This week, the IPv6 Forum announced a certification program. The good news is that the course is being offered, but the question is whether it is too little too late. It seems to be problematic that the organization is undertaking a training regimen for a generation of engineers to deal with the complex issue of IPv6 deployment while news reports are saying that the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses is just around the corner.

Still another good sign is that articles are dealing with the nitty-gritty of IPv6. Dark Reading says that the new protocol is inherently more secure than its predecessor, but that there are difficulties, especially in vulnerability scanning and penetration testing. The story goes into great detail on workarounds which, the story says, are "based on existing hardware and software tools."

At some point, the reality of the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses will become clear. Either the problem is vastly overstated or the Internet is in trouble. While the explosion of interest seen by Verizon Businesss is welcome, it is difficult to believe that enough time exists to confront the problem if executives only now are starting their due diligence.

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Sep 23, 2010 4:23 AM JMV2008 JMV2008  says:

CIOs are asking Verizon Business about how to maintain end-to-end connectivity across the Internet as some users upgrade to IPv6 and others remain on IPv4.

Sorry, not possible.

For maintained end-to-end connectivity, i.e. without translators, everybody needs to be IPv6 compatible before exhaustion!

Reminder: Direct end-to-end connectivity plays an important role in controlling latency, reliability, high-port usage, bandwidth and security.


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