IPv6 is the “new” way to connect to the Internet. For years we’ve been using version 4 of the Internet Protocol, but have since run out of IP addresses, which are your business computers’ unique address on the Internet.
IPv6 replaces IPv4 and provides a much larger pool of IP addresses.
Smart Business spoke with Bill Mathews at Hurricane Labs to learn more about what the transition will mean for your business.
Why should businesses be concerned with IPv6 now?
I know what you’re saying: That’s years away, why worry about it now? I know that up until about a year ago that was my reaction. I recall all too well sitting in boardrooms in the early century talking about the ‘big migration’ to IPv6 and working with a particularly forward-thinking company on an implementation plan. It was then, of course, we realized maybe they were too forward-thinking, as many vendors hadn’t worked out their support plans just yet.
Fast-forward a decade or so later and a lot of that is still true. Vendor support is spotty and many Internet service providers are saying, ‘IPv6, sure we have that in beta.’ Unfortunately though, this time we’re really running out of IP addresses. It’s important that businesses at least recognize the need to move on to this exciting new realm.
What makes IPv6 a must for businesses?
Strictly speaking from an infrastructure perspective, the IPv6 transition will likely dominate planning meetings and budget forecasts for the next couple of years. Owners should start their strategic thinking now. How will you do a proof of concept? How will you lab this new way of connecting up? What is it going to cost? What are the benefits/drawbacks? What is the impact to the bottom line? Of course these are questions you should ask of any project, but they are particularly important to IPv6 because, for starters, it impacts the entire way you connect to the world. From desktops to desk phones, mobiles and laptops, it affects everything your business touches on a daily basis. I say all that to stress that it’s a pretty big project with far-reaching consequences.
Of course, my standard, stolen disclaimer applies: Don’t panic! There are quite a few resources out there to help you figure it out.
Where can businesses learn more about IPv6?
My company publishes a newsletter (I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not a big advertisement); it’s a way for our engineers to learn more about some emerging technologies and then share it with our customer base and whoever is interested. This month it is dedicated entirely to IPv6. There’s even a ‘cheat sheet’ included that links IPv4 concepts to their IPv6 counterparts to help clear up some confusion.
There are also the wonderful people at Hurricane Electric, no relation, that provide wonderful connectivity to the IPv6 world and even a free certification program. And there are the SixXS guys, who provide tunnel broker services and links to many other resources. So all is not lost; there are a lot of people providing a lot of free resources to guide you along the way.
This brings me to IPv6 World Day on June 8, 2011. It’s a nice little event where companies will show off their IPv6 readiness and have at least their websites presented to the world. We plan to have our network serving both IPv4 and IPv6 versions of our services by then. Won’t you join us?
Bill Mathews is Lead Geek at Hurricane Labs. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.