IPv6 - Survey Says...!

by David Lane

A new survey out from the Internet Society (ISOC) and reported by Network World would have you believe there is no business case for the move to IPv6. And, despite the flaws in the survey (as clearly pointed out by a number of readers in a variety of places, both on Network World’s site and Slashdot), I would argue that they are right.

IPv6 has long held a pigeon hole in my radar. I was first made aware of it back in the 1990s when Cisco first introduced support for it in their newest IOS. Since then I have watched in fascination, the sort of fascination of a watching a train wreck. I have talked in this space about a number of stumbling blocks that have been encountered on the way to IPv6, such as lack of template support in the OSs, something that most of the Linux stack does not suffer from, lack of equipment support, especially in older, product specific, network cards, lack of ISP support, or should I say confusion between one office and the other, and of course, lack of trained IPv6 personnel, not only at the networking stack layer, but also at the application support layer, the architecture design layer and the security support layer.

Now, along comes this little article saying there is currently no driving business case to move to IPv6. In this economy, I am not surprised. For the foreseeable future, IT projects without a huge return on investment are going to be looked at crosswise by business leaders (IE, the bean counters that wonder why they are paying us when everything is working). This is to be expected. Moving to IPv6 without a killer app is going to be a tough sell even in flush times.

This does not mean that you should not be ready for it however. There are a number of low cost things you can be doing right now to ease your move to IPv6 when the time comes.

In no particular order then:

  • Educate yourself. There are a number of free and low cost solutions out there to help you get smart on IPv6. Not only the benefits of IPv6 but also knowing where the bodies are buried and what whammies you have to watch out for (and there are a number of them).
  • Practice. Linux already supports IPv6 in a number of places in the stack. Start building up a lab environment and play with the protocols and applications common in your environment.
  • What if? What if the boss were to come to you tomorrow and say…. Now is the time to start thinking about what it would take to move your organization to IPv6. What would your address plan look like? Where do you have equipment issues? Software issues? What sort of gateways do you need? Infrastructure issues? None of these questions require money to answer, or if they do, now is the time to start figuring out how to answer them in a cost effective manner.

Today’s business case roadblocks are tomorrow’s business case drivers. A good IT person is always looking one step ahead. Businesses, especially those that are publicly traded, rarely look more than 18 months down the road, and as we know, for some projects, 18 months is barely enough time to get the project plan written. The more leg work you can do in advance, the more prepared you will be when they come to you and ask Is it done yet? How else can you keep your reputation as a miracle worker?

More Information: O’Reilly and Cisco have a number of articles, posts and white papers about planning and moving to IPv6 on their respective sites. If you have a good link, please post a comment so others can share.

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