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Four necessary steps for making the IPv6 switch

By Max Burkhalter
February 28, 2011
The internet is out of IP addresses, and soon websites and many businesses will need to switch to the web’s latest generation of internet protocol, IPv6.

Some options currently exist that allow companies to utilize both IPv6 and IPv4 addresses, such as “dual-stack” network address translators or protocol translators. However, using these translators can affect performance, breaking applications, creating a single point of failure and more. Thus, a majority of companies need to make the full switch to the latest protocol.

To help these companies, a recent InformationWeek article discussed four ways to make a successful switch from IPv4 to IPv6 - appoint a team, create a business case, include IPv6 in all purchasing decisions and create detailed deployment plan.

Appointing a team is an essential step, as companies typically have multiple sections, and every section needs to be involved with a potential switch. Creating a team with members across all sectors is the best method for moving forward, as all areas will be on the same page and no one section will be responsible for derailing the project.

When creating a business case, the IPv6 team must emphasize IPv6 deployment as an infrastructure problem, stating the company’s network is running out of a valuable resource. Without new or expanded space, the company can’t expand, and thus, switching to IPv6 is the best move to avoid this issue.

The next step, including IPv6 in all purchasing decisions, is equally as important. As the InformationWeek article states “IPv6 shouldn't be considered a ‘special feature’ or an add-on to any network or end-user device, application or operating system.” Instead, companies need to recognize it as being integral to every part of their IT requirements. Furthermore, checking to see if a new product is “IPv6-capable” isn’t enough either. IT workers need to investigate a product’s specific protocol, performance, scaling and security quirks to ensure it’s compatible.

Lastly, these teams need a detailed deployment plan to make sure their time and effort doesn’t go to waste. “Good planning is all about reducing cost and limiting risk,” the article states. Good planning also involves knowing a companies’ users and customers, creating realistic project timelines, evaluating and selecting the best-fit IPv6 technologies and testing deployment. If a company covers these four bases, they are on the best track for IPv6 deployment, the article relays.

So while companies and websites continue to move toward IPv6, keeping these four steps in mind can be beneficial. Luckily for these bodies, the new protocol has n-to-the-128th-power of addresses available, meaning no further IP switches will need to be made for quite some time.


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