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IPv6: A New Headache or Huge Opportunity?

Added 14th May 2013

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The IPv4 internet address schema has been around for a long time -- pretty much since the beginning of the internet, says Murray Milner, NZ IPv6 Task Force. And while there are still IPv4 addresses available, the supply is inevitably running out.

The few remaining IPv4 addresses are very unevenly distributed, says Milner. The developing countries don't have them, so with the growth of mobile and internet uptake in those countries, part of the internet is starting to grow on the new IPv6 protocol. 

"It essentially creates a new internet, which sits alongside the existing internet," Milner says. "If you are sitting on IPv4 and you don't do anything about it, you will not be able to see or access what is happening on IPv6."

IPv6 is real and it's here, according to Dean Pemberton, technical policy advisor, InternetNZ.

"The amount of IPv6 traffic on the internet is growing day by day and we are just at the start of that wave," he says. 

When Pemberton talks to organisations about IPv6 he often hears comments such as, "no one is using IPv6", "it's not ready", "there is no support" and "come back in six months and maybe we'll have a chat then".

But these kinds of statements are not entirely true, he says. IPv6 is ready and deployed on large mobile networks and by global content providers today. Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia and Akamai are among the organisations that have embraced IPv6, says Pemberton. Verizon Wireless has IPv6 on by default for nearly all LTE devices and T-Mobile USA will have IPv6 by default soon, he says.

A real-world example is the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, he says. Their traffic statistics show 6-7 Gbit/s of only IPv6 traffic. 

"The main Internet Exchange in Germany is seeing upwards of 13 Gbit/s of just IPv6 traffic. This stuff is out there. It's real. It's being used on a large scale today," Pemberton says.

"Stop asking 'if' and 'when'. The question now is -- how can you join them?"

IPv6 is essential for reaching the entire internet, he says. A number of trading partners you may want to work with will increasingly be making more use of IPv6 than IPv4 -- those in Asian countries, in particular, but also service providers and operators in the US, he says.

The 'least developed countries' have some of the largest growth in internet deployment and they will be on IPv6, Pemberton says. 

"New Zealand is an export-driven economy. Being able to talk to those customers, in the way that is most comfortable for them -- that's important." 

A new ISP in, for example India, can only be given a limited amount of IPv4 addresses -- around 1,000 -- whereas there is no limit to how many IPv6 addresses they can have. They are going to choose IPv6, and "these are the people that you want to do business with".

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NZ IPv6 Task Force's recommendations for successful IPv6 adoption: 

Gain senior management commitment

Allocate specific resource to achieve the agreed outcome

Ensure allocated resource is adequately trained in IPv6 technology

Undertake an audit of the use of IPv4 addresses across the business

Ensure that IPv6 adoption is included as part of any procurement, refresh, upgrade or rehabilitation of any ICT infrastructure or application

Commit to a planned approach to the adoption of IPv6 in association with any ICT procurement and refresh cycles. 

Sam Sargeant, Dean Pemberton and Murray Milner presented at the recent CIO Luncheon: CIOs, IPv6 and the 'Internet of Things' sponsored by Internet NZ.


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