I have been updating some of my IPv6 presentations (I will be presenting at InterOp in Las Vegas in April and in May at Microsoft TechEd in Houston and at Cisco Live in San Francisco) and while doing some research as a part of that process and I’ve come to the conclusion that 2014 will be a turning point for IPv6 planning and deployment and 2015 will become a massive growth year for adoption. There are several things that point to this.
First, content companies like Akamai are seeing rapid and accelerating growth of IPv6 hosts accessing content on their very large global networks. To quote Erik Nygren, Chief Architect for Akamai, ” No longer is IPv6 adoption “just around the corner.” It’s here.” You can see more of his thoughts in this Network Computing article. The driving factors in North America are the US carriers who are now deploying IPv6 for residential subscribers along with the mobile providers doing the same.
Second, IPv6 planning and adoption discussions are becoming more common to hear from enterprise and commercial companies. This is reinforced by the number of IPv6 sessions covering these topics at major conferences around the world. I was surprised by the number of IPv6 sessions at Cisco Live! in Milan, over 38 sessions. The same is true at Cisco Live! in San Francisco with over 42. Enterprise and commercial customers are needing quality IPv6 resources, training and knowledge and the market is starting to meet that demand. Your staff needs to know IPv6, investing in them is the first step to a smooth transition.
Third, more companies are starting to understand the performance impacts that Carrier Grade NAT (CGN) will impose in their ability to do some of the basic functions we have assumed were critical to things like secure transactions, uniquely identifying customers, being able to set up secure sessions and filter or block malicious content based on the sourcing location. They want to restore a direct network connection with customers, partners and their employees and IPv6 gives them that function back. Because of the rapid growth of IPv6 in residential it becomes possible to bypass the constraints of CGN and restore a cleaner, more desirable Internet connection.
Finally, IPv6 is well on the way to full parity with IPv4 in most major products and platforms you would deploy today. This is true even if you are purchasing the hardware or software intending for it to be used in an IPv4 network first. In fact, in the case of operating systems you would be hard pressed to find any modern OS that does NOT support IPv6 fully today. You will still need to qualify all your hardware purchases and make sure they are truly supporting IPv6 in their platforms. It has to be more than a check box, you actually need to test the equipment to make sure it actually works in an IPv6 network. This requires you have the resources and IPv6 running to validate. Because I anticipate a high adoption rate for 2015 any hardware you purchase now definitely need to work in an IPv6 network. If it doesn’t, you are wasting your investment in that equipment because you will have to replace it soon.
So do a bit of planning, a bit of research and be ready for when your management teams comes and asks you about IPv6. They are likely to hear all about it at some of these major conferences and you want to be able to address their concerns in a clear and confident voice. IPv6 is the future and the future is now.