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Expert: Now is the time for IPv6

By Donna Donowitz
April 29, 2011
In a recent InformationWeek report, network expert Jeff Doyle claimed that the move from IPv4 to IPv6 is long overdue for many organizations.

Migration to IPv6 has become a hot topic in the internet connectivity world, since the industry has grown increasingly aware of the fact that IPv4 addresses are soon to be used up. The last IPv4 internet addresses have already been assigned to regional registries, although not all are actually in use yet.

According to Doyle, the need for the switch was identified by analysts many years in advance. Two factors made the necessity of more internet addresses clear well in advance. Firstly, it was always known that IPv4 was only capable of supporting a finite number of internet addresses.

Secondly, the trend of shifting all sorts of services, tools, applications, communications and collaboration technologies to an online or cloud-based format was predicted in advance. This phenomenon, which Doyle calls the "everything over IP" trend, includes everything from web-based email, to cloud-based storage solutions and to VoIP communications systems.

All of these technological developments have increased the strain on the existing protocol. According to Doyle, however, analysts already noted the implications of these developments as early as 2000.

"So why," Doyle asked, "11 years later, are we still nagging many networking vendors to please, just add IPv6 support to their products already?"

Not only did analysts predict the need for the shift more than a decade ago, claimed Doyle, they also knew as early as 2006 that 2011 would be the year that IPv4 addresses are depleted.

Doyle explained the apparent foot-dragging in IPv6 adoption by pointing to the fact that networking systems often have urgent needs. The upgrade to IPv4, though highly important, was, for a long time at least, not yet urgent.

"We tend to prioritize our network upgrades around the most urgent needs, and IPv6 has always seemed like something that could be put off just a year or two longer while we focus our budgets and engineering resources on that new MPLS core or those new data center switches or whatever else appears to present a more tangible return on investment," Doyle wrote.

Now, however, time is running out, Doyle claimed. Especially in the service provider sector, the business case for upgrading immediately is now "straightforward." An essential resource is depleted, and something must be done to solve the problem.

According to Doyle, then, the time has come to stop sitting on the fence and migrate to IPv6.

And this may in fact happen. In a recent Network World report, Doyle claimed that the shift to IPv6 may come about faster than expected.


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