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IPv6 urgency is now necessary

By Max Burkhalter
October 11, 2011
Urgency is a common adjective used to describe the importance of IPv6 adoption, as businesses need to move quickly to prepare for the new protocol. Mike Sapien, analyst for Ovum, recently told Computer Weekly that the urgency has shifted to necessity, as IPv6 migration has emerged as a critical need that requires immediate attention..

Sapien told the news source the migration to IPV6 will be disruptive on a few levels. The first is the simple reality that businesses will suddenly have access to a massive repository of available addresses. This will make the many address conservation practices that are built into networks unnecessary, changing how many businesses organize their infrastructure. Other disruptions include issues with websites, communications infrastructure and email systems, he said.

In a broad sense, Sapien told Computer Weekly, businesses need to begin working toward IPv6 immediately, have contingency plans in place by the end of next year in case circumstances change from their initial expectation and complete the transition before the end of 2013.

This process is critical, he said, because failing to migrate to IPv6 quickly enough could create a major gap between businesses and their customers.

"Enterprises could run out of IP addresses, but more likely they are going to run into a situation where their customers can't get hold of them or access their services, or they can't connect with the services of a key business partner," Sapien told the news source.

Ovum said many businesses, especially IT organizations, are facing a number of major challenges when it comes to IPv6. Among them is the misconception that all they need to do is purchase network equipment compatible with the new protocol. Adapting systems for IPv6 is about more than routers and switches, and will also require policy changes, process adjustments and security considerations.

Security is among the most critical issues when it comes to IPv6 migration, as the protocol offers a platform that is theoretically more secure than IPv4, but so different that new threats specific to IPv6 are emerging. For example, a recent CSO report explained that IPv6 is vulnerable to attacks because it uses a system called Neighbor Discovery Protocol to deal with address resolution. While this system is good for validating incoming users, it can be quickly overwhelmed by external requests, opening the network to potential threats.


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