World IPv6 Day is here… who cares?

Another year has come, another World IPv6 Day has passed and, again, another yawn. Every year I have to ask, who out there really cares? Of course there are obvious merits to IPv6, and IPv4 addresses are simply running out. Yet, I haven’t yet seen the mass movement by those who will be implementing the change.

Recently, I saw the results of a survey commissioned by the Number Resource Organization (www.nro.net), which is made up of the five Regional Internet Registries, stating that a growing number of service providers intend to deploy IPv6 on their networks in 2012. When you start to peel back the layers of the onion, however, a different story emerges. Ninety-three per cent of global ISPs responding to the survey state that less than 2 per cent of their customer base uses IPv6 connectivity. You can download the survey’s key results (PDF) from the NRO website.

An additional study by Arbor Networks in 2011 found that IPv6 accounts for less than 1 per cent of IP addresses and a whopping 0.3 per cent of all Internet traffic (read more here).

So, what is driving all of the hype and when are we going to see some real movement and demand? Yes, ISPs are beginning to transition and so, too, is the US Federal Government. And yes, we see a higher adoption rate in certain global regions but we’re still talking less than 1 per cent.

In one of my business classes somewhere along the way, I learned that this is referred to as demand creation as opposed to demand pull. In other words, the parties with the vested interest in creating demand for, or migrating to, IPv6 are trying to create (or force) demand while the users do not seem to be asking (or pulling) for it.

So I ask, what is keeping you from wanting or demanding IPv6? Is it cost? Business justification? Device or vendor support? Or is it simply that you do not have the bandwidth to do it and you don’t see it being a pressing need?

For those of you who do see the merits of an IPv6 transition and are looking to start planning, be aware that deploying IPv6 on a new or existing network requires a major planning effort. One way to ensure a smooth transition is to seek out an IP address management solution that provides the ability to plan your IPv6 migration through address and subnet planning and testing of multiple scenarios before implementation.

For existing networks, IPv6 deployment should be phased in gradually. Below is a list of recommended steps for planning and beginning your migration to an IPv6 network.

Phase Task Description
Planning Application IPv6 readiness assessment Assess the ability of your applications to run in an IPv6 environment
Planning Subnet addressing plan Plan the overall IPv6 network topology and addressing scheme
Planning Addressing Plan Develop a plan for addressing servers, routers, and hosts
Planning Tunnel Usage Plan Identify routers that will need to run tunnels to other subnets or external networks
Implementation Enable Nodes Configure IPv6 on all routers and hosts
Implementation IPv6 Capable ISP Transition to ISP that can support IPv6
Implementation Site prefix Obtain a 48-bit site prefix for your site from your ISP
Implementation DMZ Zone Implement an addressing plan for the DMZ prior to configuring IPv6
Implementation Name servers Update DNS, NIS, and LDAP servers with new IPv6 addresses
Implementation Network services Turn on the network services

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