It may seem like the world has put off dealing with the migration to IPv6, but the truth is, it’s getting to the point where it can no longer be ignored. As IPv4 addresses diminish, the move to IPv6 is vital to allow both the Internet and the global economy to grow. With the finite number of possible IPv4 addresses about 4 billion, and the world’s population over 7 billion you begin to see the reality of IPv4 exhaustion. Not to mention, network modernisation and strategic IT initiatives such as machine-to-machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things, whose adoption is entirely dependent on the new protocol and its massive IP address space.
The business case is what you stand to lose if you do not move to IPv6, such as global connectivity with customers, prospects, partners and suppliers and the ability to leverage IPv6 advances and IPv6-dependent technology transformations like cloud computing, machine-to-machine and the Internet of Things. IPv6 has already been adopted across many parts of the globe. With the exhaustion of IPv4 address space, the percentage of users connecting to the Internet via IPv6 will only increase. In the last 2 years, IPv6 adoption has increased over 300 percent.
IPv6 is a next-generation protocol that brings new features and functionality that are not available with IPv4. Enhancements in IPv6 include: address families, extension headers, jumbo frames for enhanced video streaming, enhanced multicast support with vastly increased address space and more efficient mechanisms, simplified routing, and improved support for mobile IP addresses and IP-enabled mobile devices. IPv6 opens up opportunities for organisations to exploit new features to improve quality of service, lower costs and enhance security.
IPv6 networking concepts are very different from IPv4. There will be a learning curve for adopting IPv6 – and IPv4 expertise will not guarantee IPv6 success. Do not under-estimate the effort required. IPv6 is not human-friendly and will require fully automated IP Address Management solutions to lessen the management burden. Traditional methods of managing IP address space with spreadsheets, homegrown applications or by memory will not scale to accommodate IPv6. Implementing IPv6 connectivity within the enterprise will not be a trivial undertaking. IPv6 readiness requires a roadmap and should be planned and implemented in phases to avoid business or service disruptions and to minimize transition costs.