The free pool of IPv4 addresses is fully depleted as of last year on January 31st, 2011; when the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last block of IPv4 addresses available with them. The move to IPv6 is now all the more urgent, especially as the world is becoming more interconnected and hence more dependent on the internet. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and large businesses cannot afford to ignore this problem and should plan for an IPv6 migration sooner than later, to ensure business continuity as well as to provide next generation services. Or else, they will find themselves later having to invest heavily in a hurried IPv6 transition – at a time when revenues are declining and competition is intensifying.
Even though IPv6 was standardized more than a decade ago, the switch to IPv6 will not be easy, primarily because it will not be a “One-solution fitting all”. Although both IPv4 & IPv6 can co-exist on the same network, IPv6 is not backward compatible, which means that the automatic translation within the network to preserve comprehensive any-to-any connectivity is not possible. Simply put, the two versions cannot talk to each other without a translator or an extra layer. Managing IPv4 and IPv6 co-existence will be another hurdle. Since it will be many years before IPv6 becomes the dominant protocol and for a while both will coexist side by side. Therefore the devices will need to support dual stack, capable of handling both IPv4 and IPv6 packets. Read more in our article, “Gearing up for Network Ubiquity: Prepare yourself for the next wave of digitization.”
Is it time to hit the panic button? Not yet. It is especially not a problem at present for the average broadband customer or even for businesses with lots of servers. But it is a definitely a problem that is looming over us, and some companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo have already started their migration journey. As mentioned earlier, it is better to prepare for the transition now, while the going is good, rather than scramble to conduct a hasty and rushed migration at the nth hour and risk interrupting business continuity.
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