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5 practical reasons to plan your IPv6 transition early



By Yanick Pouffary


Do you remember the early days of wireless networking? Back in the late ’90s when companies reluctantly deployed Wi-Fi, not sure if the technology would pay off? Fast forward to today and the idea of questioning wireless is laughable. Today it’s laughable for enterprises to not offer wireless connectivity!


IPv6, the new Internet protocol, is in the same place wireless was in the late ‘90s. Like wireless, IPv6 will revolutionize networking. And mark my word: One day we will wonder why anyone even questioned their transition to IPv6.


The difference with IPv6 is that it’s conducive to a gradual transition. By planning your IPv6 deployment early, you can minimize your risks, costs and complexities. So, as forward-looking customers, partners, competitors and vendors begin their journey to IPv6, don’t you think you should start too?   


Practical reasons to start your IPv6 journey now

Analogies to wireless technology aside, there are several practical reasons to start your IPv6 transition early:


  1. You may not have any global IPv4 addresses—or access to a new pool of addresses. (See my earlier post Your Transition to IPv6: The Best Time to Get Started Is Right Now.)

  2. IPv6 touches every aspect of your IT ecosystem—networking gear, servers, applications, mobile services, security devices, your Intranet and public Web site.

  3. Establishing at least a presence on the IPv6 Internet will allow you to connect to the IPv6 Internet.

  4. Entire markets in emerging countries are already on IPv6, which means the sooner you adopt IPv6, the sooner you can tap those markets.

  5. If you work in a government agency or you supply IT equipment to the government, IPv6 is mandated.



Given the breadth of IPv6’s impact on your IT ecosystem, common sense dictates that the longer you delay your IPv6 transition, the more complicated and expensive it will be. And procrastinating until you’re forced into a forklift implementation could wreak havoc on your business.



The benefits of planning your IPv6 transition early

One advantage to planning your IPv6 transition in advance is that it enables a holistic approach to your IT ecosystem. For instance, if you’re already planning a refresh of some routers and switches, you can simply make IPv6-enabled gear part of your purchase plan. (See last week’s blog post by Jeff Enters and myself: Transitioning to IPv6 may not be as hard as you think — but beware these 3 myths.)


Planning early will also help you build a business case for moving to IPv6. Do you have a highly mobile workforce that needs to connect to headquarters? Do you have key business partners on the IPv6 network? Do you need to comply with IPv6 regulatory requirements? Can your business create new revenue streams on the IPv6 Internet? Starting early will give you time to answer these questions and build a solid business (and technology) case for IPv6.


There’s no “right way” to transition to IPv6

Every organization will have a different IPv6 transition plan. It depends on your business plan, current IT infrastructure, and goals for IPv6. But every plan should start with a network assessment and a full understanding of your IPv6 transition goals.


A network assessment will reveal if and where IPv6-enabled devices already exist on your network. Remember, lots of network gear and devices ship with IPv6 enabled by default, so you may already have IPv6 running without even knowing it. (Look for a separate post about this shortly.) A network assessment will also help you figure out where to start and how to deploy IPv6.


For some real-world reference, following are three possible (remember there is no “right way”) IPv6 transition paths, depending on a company’s technology adoption profile:


  • A conservative company might initially secure its internal network, ensuring all security devices are IPv6-aware and filtering out traffic. It may then establish an external IPv6 web presence so customers on the ''IPv6 internet'' can access web-based applications (e.g. e-commerce capabilities).


  • A middle-of-the-road company might allow internal IPv6 traffic within some divisions for specific business reasons — for instance, to support an IPv6 product-development team, a mobile sales workforce, or a division doing remote monitoring. This company might also establish an external IPv6 web presence to connect with customers on the “IPv6 Internet.”  


  • A progressive company might allow both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic on its internal network and across its firewall. It might also have a public IPv6 web site and deploy advanced peer-to-peer applications leveraging IPv6 technical advantages.


Regardless of how quickly your organization adopts new technology, planning your IPv6 transition in advance will pay off in many ways. You’ll not only be able to tap new markets and reap the benefits of the next-generation Internet, but you’ll likely save money and avoid headaches in the process.


If you’ve begun the process or have advice on how to migrate to IPv6, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Learn how HP's IPv6 Consulting Services can help you ease your IPv6 transition.


And for more information on IPv6, visit the IPv6 Forum or the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).


Yanick Pouffary is HP Distinguished Technologist; HP IPv6 Global Leader; and Chief Architect, HP Enterprise Services Office of the CTO.



HP recently held an expert chat focused on IPv6 networking, and how companies can minimize the risks, costs, and complexities of transitioning to IPv6. Learn how HP can help you meet the challenges of today’s dual-protocol world and how to develop a plan for phased deployment that meets your specific needs. Register now.

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