Skip Links

Will 2010 Be "The Year of IPv6?"

No, but the 2010s will undoubtedly be the "decade of IPv6"

By joltsik on Wed, 12/16/09 - 2:02pm.

Any time you predict the imminent rise of IPv6 you have to do so with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I did a brief Google search and found articles dating back to the early 2000s predicting the oncoming year of IPv6.

It seems that IPv6 (and perhaps PKI and 64-bit computing) are always just on the horizon but never achieve the level of success we expect. Part of this is our way of thinking. No one will ever simply "throw a switch" that instantly transitions the IPv4 world to IPv6. That said, I do belive that the foundation of IPv6 is now firmly in place and we will see steady and growing momentum throughout the early years of the next decade. By 2013, the transition will be nearly completed.

I'm betting on this transition albeit gradually for several reasons:

1. The age-old argument that we are running out of IP addresses is actually taking hold. People usually point to mobile devices, control systems, medical technologies, etc., but let's not forget that desktop and server virtualization will also require a lot more IP addresses over the next few years. Yes, there are plenty of workarounds like NAP, but dealing with kludges and scalability problems gets more and more difficult. This is one reason why IPv6 is being phased in with new devices in emerging economies first.

2. IPv6 is now supported in all major operating systems including Windows, Linux, MacOS, and z/OS. Many applications also offer support and major web properties like Google are on-board.

3. Many governments around the world already run on IPv6 or are in the process of transitioning to IPv6

4. IPv6 security will become more and more important moving forward. Most people think of IPv6 security in terms of IPSec for packet encryption but IPsec can also be used for network authentication and authorization. For example, Microsoft Windows Server 8 uses IPsec for "Server and Domain Isolation" in order to create ACLs for IP address-to-IP address communications.

I admit that none of these are new network drivers. So what's changed? The basic IPv6 infrastructure is in place, IP address management workarounds are getting more painful, and the world is more connected each day. This makes the transition more necessary and doable.

Over the next few years, we will see massive investment in IT infrastructure as we build a smarter planet (to quote IBM), cloud computing, and more and more Internet services. In my opinion, IPv6 is an essential building block in each of these cases. Next year won't be an IP paradigm shift but it will ring in a decade where IPv4 receives a well-deserved tribute, a gold watch, and a retirement condo by a golf course.