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IPv6: What it is, When it's Coming, and What You Need to do to Prepare
IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol address standard intended to supplement, and eventually replace, the IPv4 protocol most Internet services use to transact on the Internet today. The Internet Society (ISOC) is hosting World IPv6 Launch this year on June 6, bringing together ISPs, home networking equipment manufacturers and web companies around the world to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services by the launch date.
The number of total IP addresses is limited to approximately 4.3 billion with the 32-bit IPv4 address space. In a world with billions of Internet users and Internet-connected devices, the available IPv4 address space just isn’t enough.
IPv4 will still work, but problems will arise – sooner if you have a global customer or user base, later for SMBs. Despite this, a new InformationWeek IPv6 survey shows an insignificant increase in the number of companies actively preparing. Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents say they have no plans to run IPv6 in the foreseeable future, down one percent from last year. Only five percent of companies already run IPv6 in most of their networks, and only 10 percent say their IT teams are very knowledgeable on IPv6.
Gartner (News - Alert) estimates the cost of completely transforming a typical enterprise’s IT environment from IPv4 to IPv6 to be approximately six percent of the enterprise’s entire annual IT budget. The ongoing costs, once transformation has occurred, will amount to approximately one percent of the IT budget in subsequent years.
Once you gain an overall view of the areas where IPv6 will make an impact in your network, set priorities. InformationWeek advises prioritizing IPv6 support for externally facing systems, such as websites, streaming services, and firewalls because many users of these services will be IPv6-capable in short order.
From a design standpoint, unlike with IPv4, every device in your network, from servers to printers, will eventually receive a unique IPv6 address. The first priority is ensuring that websites and Internet facing applications answer IPv6 requests.
A dual-stack setup is when companies make their networks both IPv4- and IPv6-capable, which can be a huge project.
There are a number of ways companies can prepare for the transition to IPv6, and some of them are highlighted in reports like, “Getting Your Organization Ready for IPv6” and “Carriers Speak: Inside Tips for IPv6 Services.”
More information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding IPv6 can be found here.
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