Prepare your network for the future: Embrace IPv6

Embrace IPv6 now or be left behind. This column explains why preparing your network for the future will involve understanding the Internet Protocol version 6.

IPv6 Timeline
See the IPv6 timeline in depth. Source: Rapid7

A new era began this month -- that of the "new Internet." The dawning of the IPv6 protocol broke out on June 6 in a concerted effort the Internet Society (ISOC) organized, called “World IPv6 Launch Day.” On this day, a league of participating ISPs and large enterprises, like Google and Facebook, turned on IPv6 forever. While the IPv6 Internet existed in a minute capacity prior to this date, a solid seed was planted -- one that will evolve the largest cumulative invention the human race has ever created. With the help of World IPv6 Day, such an effort has seen IPv6 traffic quadruple in the last three years.

Yet IPv6 advocates, like American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) founder John Curran, are not finished evangelizing and encouraging the move to IPv6. It's no secret that the majority of enterprises don't even have IPv6 on their to-do lists. When only five of the top 20 Internet service providers in the U.S. support IPv6 natively, how is it possible for an enterprise to enable an unavailable protocol?

Whether IPv6 is available in your region or not, what's most important for enterprises is to develop an IPv6 migration strategy. Incorporating IPv6-capable products in your product refresh is a must -- unless you prefer an irked CFO and keeping your company stuck in the prehistoric Internet-era. While moving to IPv6 gives enterprises an opportunity to re-architect and re-invent the network, many companies will prefer to make the IPv4 to IPv6 transition without changing the network. Such feats are possible, but every scenario will require some knowledge of IPv6.

Whether you hire outside help or do the transition internally, knowing IPv6 basics is a must. IPv6 security expert Scott Hogg says the best way to start is to get some IPv6 training to prepare yourself for the inevitable. Learning to do IPv4 to IPv6 conversion will become a new typical task in these next few decades, so you might as well embrace IPv6 now.

This was first published in June 2012

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