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Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.
Much of the conversation around IPv6 has been based on the fear of IPv4 address exhaustion and the impending collapse of the Internet if we don't migrate. If we don't comply, customers will be unable to reach our sites and we will simply disappear from the electronic world.
Fear, however, is a poor motivator; it does not build a business case.
Most practitioners agree that the word "migration" is a misnomer in conjunction with IPv6. It suggests moving to a pure IPv6 world and eschewing the existing IPv4 world. Experts would agree that this simply isn't true, practical or even possible for some time.
IPv4 is the standard, and even if the world at large is actively moving to IPv6 as a standard, many of the most highly desired content is still in the IPv4 world. Chances are IPv4 will be around for quite some time.
So the real question is: "What does moving to IPv6 mean for my bottom line?" How can moving to be IPv6 be a positive business investment instead of simply a cost of doing business?
The business value of any endeavor has two components: the benefit and the cost. Even if the benefit is significant, if the cost is greater, then it is difficult to make the justification. However, even if the benefit is small and the cost is insignificant, it just might make sense.
So, what is the real benefit of moving to IPv6? In general terms, the business case simply doesn't exist. According to some research, IPv6 traffic over the last year has accounted for less than 0.3% of all the Internet traffic regardless of the source.
It is important when examining this that you understand the current IPv6 market. Very few Internet Service Providers (ISPs) currently deploy IPv6 to the consumer market, meaning that IPv6 is not a necessary mechanism to reach most general consumers.
This is equally true of hosting companies where many organizations have found it difficult to even get connectivity to the IPv6 Internet and have had to find alternative means to participate.
Even those service providers (outside NA mostly) that provide direct IPv6 addressing to consumers must still provide access to the existing IPv4 Internet and simply NAT the addresses to IPv4 -- often with no connection to the IPv6 Internet at all. B2B is likewise similar. Most organizations, even if they internally support IPv6, are not directly connected to the IPv6 Internet as the standard is still IPv4.
Mobile is often considered the primary driver of IPv6. Many mobile service providers have had to transition their mobile networks to IPv6 due to the massive growth of mobile devices, the limited number IPv4 addresses they can use and the need/desire to maintain IP addresses as devices move around the network. In addition, many of these mobile devices also have a natural preference for IPv6 over Wi-Fi networks if available.