World IPv6 Launch: ‘No Business Case’ For IT To Sell

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

It’s World IPv6 Launch today, but IT teams won’t be celebrating or even making big changes just yet

There is no direct financial gain to be had from making systems IPv6 compatible, according to Roy Illsley, principal analyst at Ovum, who told TechWeekEurope the business case was “non-existent”, meaning IT managers might have a hard time putting a case for investment to senior level executives.

His comments came today as IT vendors across the world push for everyone to get ready for the switch from IPv4, as part of the World IPv6 Launch. Participating vendors are making hardware, software and websites compatible.

Following today, the majority of leading websites will have IPv6 enabled permanently, whilst many equipment vendors will include IPv6 connectivity in their default product settings. Commercial IPv6 services are expected to see a multi-year growth surge too.

The launch follows World IPv6 Day of 8 June 2011, which focused primarily on getting websites compatible. The reason for the push is that the number of IPv4 addresses is close to depletion, meaning a larger batch is needed in the form of IPv6 addresses.

Be prepared

Despite the lack of a business case, the shift to IPv6 compatibility is “one of those projects that you’ve got to have planned and scheduled”, Illsley said. The biggest drive to have IPv6 compliant systems will come when mobile devices become IPv6 only, but that will not happen until around 2016 when 4G becomes widespread, according to the analyst.

“LTE looks like it is going to adopt and IPv6-only approach and that could be the catalyst that drives people down the route of going mobile IPv6,” he said. “As soon as people start to do that, that’s when things like banks who have got mobile apps will have to externally be putting out IPv6.”

Yet there is no need to be panicked into shifting systems, despite all the calls to move fast, Illsley added. “It’s really a case that over the next 10 years it is going to happen, you’ve got to plan it and look at what the risk factors are, how you can introduce it.”

An Ovum report from last year advised businesses it would take 10 years to complete the move to IPv6. Planning should have started last year, according to the firm. The dual-stack approach is being seen as the most effective approach, where both IPv4 and IPv6 protocols are run on devices and network layer technologies.

Illsley backed a pragmatic approach. “It’s being sensible about what you do and when you do it,” he added. “You’ve got to look at what your network carriers are doing.

“It’s recognising who you work with, what your network connections are, what your customers are doing and making sure you have this dual-stack in place.”

World IPv6 Launch is being coordinated by the Internet Society, which said the day marks “a permanent commitment across the Internet industry, including ISPs and home networking equipment manufacturers around the world, laying the foundation to accelerate the deployment of IPv6 across the global Internet.”

The event has the backing of many big names in IT, including one of the founding fathers of the Internet, Vint Cerf, who is now an Internet evangelist at Google.

“While some of your devices may already share a single address (your home router acts like a switchboard for your home’s devices), if IPv6 isn’t implemented you’d soon have to share a single address with multiple people or even a whole neighborhood. This tangled, constrained Internet would be unsafe and unsustainable,” Cerf warned, in a Google blog post.

“Complete transition will take time. Some users may need to upgrade their home routers or possibly download updated operating system software to enable IPv6 in parallel with IPv4. If you’re interested in when you’ll get IPv6 connectivity (if you don’t have it already), we encourage you to reach out to your ISP and ask.”

Other backers of the launch include Akamai, Microsoft, Cisco, Facebook and Yahoo.

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