I’ve been meaning to blog about IPv6 for some time, really to scare potential customers into doing business with us… what? Okay, we’re a bit more ethical than that, but trust me, other companies will be starting this sales message shortly. I’ve decided to give managers and directors a bit more knowledge about what you should know about IPv6 and why it is going to be important…

First of all, I am not a fan, I used to quite often remember IP addresses like any self-respecting IT man. However, much like the ‘Big Number Change‘ we’ve ran out of IP addresses globally much as we ran out of phone numbers in the UK in the late 90s. Therefore, the IT industry has agreed to implement an upgrade from IPv4 to IPv6 and rather than the old type IP address format we’re going to hexadecimal, such as: 2001:0db8:85a3:0042:1000:8a2e:0370:7334! I personally blame the people who thought it was a good idea to WiFi enable their fridge freezers!

No matter how we look at the problem however, we do need more IP addresses and as such IPv6 is here to stay. There is actually very little to do for most people, IPv4 isn’t going to get turned off (according to Google’s IPv6 help pages) but ultimately if you start trying to access a service on the Internet that is on IPv6 and your router, ISP and connecting networks are still IPv4 you’re simply not going to be able to connect.

Nobody at this stage of IPv6 deployment is going to really put a crucial service on the new address system – without risking commercial failure. More than likely there will be some degree of parallel running and eventual changeover as IPv4 traffic reduces.

For people in the IT world this is going to mean years of headaches setting up multiple DNS records for both IPv4 and IPv6 services, then worrying that every network switch, router and firewall is capable of dealing with IPv6.

There is unlikely to be a big scare like Y2K with lots of people cashing in to do work, however in many cases you will need new hardware, but ultimately I believe this can largely wait until your next upgrade cycle. In the UK most ISP’s haven’t started supporting this yet – at the time of writing the UK’s adoption according to Google is 0.2%, France and Germany are already way ahead.

Certainly, though, there’s very little to worry about until most of the UK ISP’s begin supporting IPv6 however it should certainly be a consideration in the purchase of any new networking hardware you expect to last you over the next five years. Should business managers and directors wish to look as if they’ve got an intelligent question to ask their IT department, then they should question whether their new purchases support this new standard!

If you need any help choosing the right network equipment for your business, feel free to give Unleashed a call.  If you’d like to check whether you’ve got a network that supports IPv6 you can use Google’s IPv6 checker here.