IPv6 in the Enterprise: Why You Should Care

If you have followed this blog for very long you know that I post pretty regularly (far too regularly, some might say) on the fast-approaching depletion of the remaining pool of public IPv4 addresses.

If you haven’t followed this blog before, I’ll give you the short version:

The IANA pool will run out somewhere around the end of 2010 or early 2011. The Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) will run out a little less than a year after that (based on their model of maintaining a 12-month supply of addresses).

That means that if you are a large service provider (a Local Internet Registry, or LIR) and go to your RIR for a new allocation of addresses pretty much any time after 2011, the only allocation you will be able to get is IPv6.

So I’ve been harping, nagging, wheedling, threatening, and otherwise subtly suggesting that if your business is dependent on a regular supply of IP addresses, you had better be planning for the addition of IPv6 support to your network right now. I also know that a few of service providers think they still have plenty of time. Good luck with that.

If you are a smaller service provider below the LIR level – that is, an SP that gets your address allocations from an LIR rather than from an RIR – you have a little more time. The dependency here is how long your LIR’s last allocation of IPv4 addresses will last beyond will last beyond its RIR depletion. That’s probably less than a year, so let’s say 2012.

But what about enterprise (corporate) networks? Unless you are a large enterprise network, you probably have been running private IPv4 addresses behind a NAT for many years and can comfortably continue to do so for many years to come. So do you need to be concerned about IPv6?

Yes, although on a smaller scale.

As the IPv6 user community grows, you are going to see an increase in the number of people attempting to access your public-facing services such as web and e-mail via IPv6. Are you ready for that?

It might not be as easy as you think:

·      Obviously your service provider needs to be IPv6 capable first, so you need to be working with them to understand their plans and timelines.

·      The server operating systems need to be evaluated, to understand whether IPv6 merely needs to be enabled or if an upgrade is required.

·      Are there application issues to be resolved?

·      DNS issues need to be carefully considered, to insure you have neither misdirected user packets or unwanted application delays.

·      If you use hosted services, what are your hosting provider’s plans? In a subsequent post I’ll share my own adventures in this area.

The first step toward planning for IPv6 access to your public servers is answering the above questions. If you don’t already know the answers, I suggest you consider them very soon. If you do know the answers t these questions, have you begun planning for deployment?


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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