At long last, IPv6

Tim Winters, software managing engineer with the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab, predicts that the move to secure granular bits of data will finally mean the emergence of IPv6.

The government is aiding the push to IPv6 by requiring that civilian and defense agencies support the protocol in their equipment by mid-2008.

Organizations might be surprised, however, to find that a lot of applications already support the protocol, Winters says.

The IPv6 movement has had a tough go over the past few years.

Experts have warned that the IPv4 address space is running low, but network address translation (NAT) techniques have helped companies extend their use.

But now security concerns are starting to shed light on the benefits of IPv6, such as end-to-end security.

IPv6 also will help with the influx of wireless networking and streaming video.

"You could go end to end without going through a NAT box, which will improve quality and speed up the delivery. You can also secure the video stream so it can't be tapped into," Winters says.

Microsoft Vista is a boon because it has native support for IPv6, he says, and other application vendors are testing IPv6.

"In the next couple of years you'll see IPv6 become more prominent and widely deployed," he says.

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