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Companies resisting shift to IPv6

By Max Burkhalter
July 13, 2011
Despite knowledge that IPv6 is coming and will soon be the primary internet standard, companies have not been especially aggressive in adopting the capability necessary to transition to it, according to market research firm Ovum.

Among the primary reasons companies are hesitant to make the transition is a lack of motivation. Some may point to the slowly recovering economy for their refusal to make the move now. However, failing to deal with IPv6 when it takes over could be as devastating financially as a slow economy.

"There may be a degree of ‘head in sand' mentality among enterprises, but our research stands in glaring contrast to the industry's efforts to promote IPv6 over the past several years," Mike Sapien, Ovum principal analyst and report author, said. "Furthermore, our research suggests that many enterprise customers think they are already using IPv6, when they are not."

The number of IPv4 addresses is running out rapidly, as new smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices are activated along with laptop and desktop PCs.

According to Ovum, less than 3 percent of all web traffic currently is generated from IPv6. Given the urging companies have received, this figure is quite troubling. In June, World IPv6 Day was supposed to serve as the kickoff to a rapid transition to the standard, but very few companies have opted to make the move.

Ovum reports that companies have received some mixed messages, which may be the reason for the minimal uptake. Alberto Soto of network solutions vendor Brocrade reportedly said there is no reason for companies to make a drastic decision now since it's unlikely to affect anyone in the short term.

"Companies should start looking into it. They should try to understand what are the intermediary steps they have to take, but there is nothing that will stop their operations overnight," Soto told "Just get the right information, make a plan and just execute against this plan in a period that could last between one year and three years."

Still, a series of trends within both enterprise and consumer IT mean available IPv4 addresses will be gone shortly. Mobility is one such trend. However, cloud computing is an equally threatening issue in terms of available addresses. While the platform has the potential to revolutionize IT, without rapid move toward IPv6 by both cloud users and vendors, latency issues could quickly become the norm.


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