IPv6: Leave It To Service Providers

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The world may be running out of IPv4, but the sky is not falling, and carriers can handle the problems, says Colt’s Nicolas Fischbach

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Don’t rush

Fischbach was keen to emphasise that responsibility for managing the complexity of the transition will mostly fall on service providers. “It’s something that usually the enterprise or end users shouldn’t have to deal with. The complexity will usually be more upstream in the network on the service provider side,” he said.

The trial at the V6 World Congress is the first of its kind, in which the public will have a chance to see a business-level IPv6 solution in action. Colt then plans to carry out beta trials in late Q2, leaving plenty of time for deployment before service providers run out of IPv4 addresses – which is expected to be in Q1/2 2012.

“We don’t want to rush it,” said Fischbach. “With all the press this is getting lately, they are really banging at the doors, they want this now. A lot of them seem to think the sky is falling, but that’s clearly not the case.”

“I think we’ll be going public with more beta trials towards the end of Q2. And then going forward we’ll just introduce it product by product,” he added. “It goes way beyond the basic access products. Everything the touches the network is impacted. So we’ll launch it depending on the customer demand.”

However, Fischback warns that sitting back and waiting is not an option either. He explained that, at the same time as helping customers to transition, Colt also aims to help raise potential problems. There may be delays for example, or the network might even become broken. “Can you live with that?” he asks, and “Are you actually happy to give us feedback on your experience?”

World IPv6 day

Fischbach also talked about the forthcoming ‘World IPv6 Day’, scheduled for 8 June. On that day, tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Yahoo will enable IPv6 on their main services for a 24-hour “test flight”.

“It’s about managing the panic. Did we need IPv6 day? I’m not sure. Is it going to be a difficult day? I think it will. But it will also have benefits afterwards, because maybe we can flush out a huge amount of brokenness on that day,” he said.

“It’s going to be a lot of work for the service providers. And actually much more work for the service providers than for the guys like Google and Facebook, because we are providing the pipes. But I think in the longer term it will help the industry because the vendors will then also have a clear IPv6 roadmap.”

He also sees it as a good opportunity to consolidate the efforts that are being made to introduce IPv6, calling for “a common theme, a common message, a common task force”.

“It is very fragmented. You’ve got 6UK, you’ve got the IPv6 Task Force … You really have a lot of effort being made. But it’s like in industry, when you have too many players, at some point you need consolidation,” he said.

Fischbach believes that this can only really be brought about by encouraging C-level involvement. IPv6 needs to be built into organisations’ roadmaps over the next 12-18 months, and CIOs need to start working with service providers to plan their migration.

“It’s a little bit like Y2K, I think. At some level you need some C-level engagement, because it’s not something you can do in the corner. When the enterprise and customers need it, you don’t have 18 months to execute – it needs to be available. So this is the real challenge for IPv6.”

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