Pervasive Software, a Texas maker of embeddable database software, says it is seeing a rise in demand for IPv6 support from its Japanese customers.
Pervasive plans to provide full IPv6 functionality in Release 11 of its PSQL software, which is due out this summer. is the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, which is known as IPv4.
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices -- 2 to the 128th power.
The Internet infrastructure is migrating to IPv6 because it is running out of IPv4 address space. The Regional Internet Registries said in April that only 8% of IPv4 address remain unallocated. The remaining IPv4 addresses are expected to run out by 2012.
Pervasive says the demand for IPv6 is coming from the Japanese government market, which has new guidelines requiring agencies to purchase hardware and software systems that support IPv6.
"Most of our customers that sell to the central government or local governments as well have been trying wherever possible to use hardware and software that supports IPv6," says Martin Sims, Pervasive PSQL product manager for AG-TECH Corp. in Japan. "I don't think many places have gone so far as using IPv6, but it is very much considered when people purchase hardware and software. Our Japanese customers have been very much asking us to come up with a version of our database product that supports IPv6."
Pervasive said that the Japanese government mandate for IPv6 has done more to encourage IPv6 deployment than similar efforts by Asian carriers.
"When the government comes out with these guidelines, vendors don't want that checkbox to be unchecked," Sims says. "One of our largest customers sells systems for libraries. Even though this is a central government guideline, it is filtering down to the local libraries."
The dynamic in the Japanese market is of interest because the U.S. federal government is instituting a similar change to its Federal Acquisition Regulation requiring all IT acquisitions to support IPv6. The FAR change goes into effect in July.
The U.S. government already met a mandate to demonstrate IPv6 capability on its backbone networks as of June 2008. But federal agencies have made little progress since then in terms of deploying IPv6.
Pervasive executives say they have not yet received requests for IPv6 support from its U.S. customers, many of whom are independent software vendors that support the U.S. federal market.
"The Westerners…keep asking us: Why are you doing this? Why are you investing money to add IPv6 into the product? Why can't you do this other preferred feature?" says Gilbert Van Cutsem, general manager of the database division at Pervasive Software. "But we have to do this because of the Japanese government mandating this. And a fairly big chunk of our revenues are coming out of Japan. But the good news is that while we're doing this for Japan, Japan is a little bit ahead of the curve for the rest of the world. The issue will hit all of us, but that might not be until 2012."
Pervasive says its PSQL software will have full IPv6 functionality for its legacy Btrieve interface this summer and that its SQL relational interface will support IPv6 by year-end.
Van Cutsem says Pervasive has been working on IPv6 development for six months.
"I wouldn't call it trivial," Van Cutsem says, pointing out that PSQL supports three operating systems. "The idea was that we always have a single code base for these three platforms so that all of these products are totally identical and totally compatible. Fixing IPv6 is one thing, but fixing it in such a way that you can deploy it on three platforms in exactly the same way with exactly the same behavior makes it non-trivial."
Pervasive says it is ready for the upcoming FAR change requiring IPv6.
"We wouldn't be afraid of the U.S. government's requirement," Van Cutsem says. "Thanks to our Japanese customers, we will not have to scramble to support it."