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Most IT pros say their websites, networks will support IPv6 by 2013

New survey identifies carriers, network vendors are barriers to deployment of next-gen Internet services

By , Network World
July 27, 2011 06:05 AM ET

Network World - More than 70% of IT departments plan to upgrade their websites to support IPv6 within the next 24 months, according to a recent survey of more than 200 IT professionals conducted by Network World. Plus, 65% say they will have IPv6 running on their internal networks by then, too.

FULL SURVEY RESULTS: Up and running on IPv6 by 2013

These IT professionals proclaimed strong support for IPv6 deployment in the online survey, which attracted 210 respondents. More than 90% said IPv6 is "fundamentally important to the Internet," and 74% said they would prefer their companies be "leaders, and not laggards, when it comes to IPv6 adoption."

This wave of support for IPv6 comes at a time when the Internet is running out of address space with IPv4, the current version of the Internet's main communications protocol. IPv6 fixes this problem by offering a virtually limitless number of IP addresses, but it requires hardware and software upgrades because it is not backward compatible with IPv4.

The survey indicates that companies are further along in IPv6 deployment than expected. For example, 86% of respondents said they had already investigated whether their current hardware and software supports IPv6, which is one of the first steps in planning an IPv6 deployment. A mere 16% reported that all of their software and hardware currently supports IPv6, although on a brighter note, 46% say that "most" of it does.

As expected, the survey indicates that IT professionals are focused on their public-facing websites, with 82% saying they will "eventually adopt IPv6 for our website." Of the respondents, 13% said they had already completed IPv6 deployment on their websites and another 20% said they were in the middle of this upgrade. Another 39% said they would begin this upgrade within the next 24 months. 

But one surprise of the survey was how many IT professionals also indicated plans to upgrade their internal networks to support IPv6, an effort that is expected to take longer and cost more money than IPv6 deployment on externally facing websites. Overall, 72% of respondents said their companies will "eventually adopt IPv6 for our corporate network." Similar to the responses for website deployment, 13% of respondents said they had already added IPv6 to their internal corporate networks and another 25% said they had begun this upgrade process. An additional 27% said they would begin the process within the next 24 months. 

One survey respondent, John Mann, a network architect at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said his organization has been making steady IPv6 progress for years.

"Mostly IPv6 has just worked," Mann said. "IPv6 has been incrementally enabled in parallel with IPv4, and traffic has gradually moved across as AAAA records are added to the DNS. There have been occasional problems, but they have been worked through one by one.

"Our understanding of IPv6 has evolved over time as we have used it, found a problem and overcome it, used it some more, found the next problem, etc. The biggest problem is maintaining forward progress with IPv6 while it is still possible to take the easy option and fall back to IPv4."

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