World IPv6 day has come and gone and many companies worldwide now have a permanent IPv6 presence. ISP’s are now rolling out IPv6 to customers and are restricting the number of IPv4 addresses offered. These moves are welcome to those ready to adopt IPv6 but are vendors stepping up to provide IPv6 enabled devices? My personal experience says that they are not.
I recently contacted Siemens to see if my Giagset VoIP DECT phone would recieve a firmware update enabling it for IPv6. The answer I got was a definite no. This is hardly surprising, the device is a couple of years old. However, the email which i received went on to say that Siemens currently have no DECT VoIP bases that provide IPv6 functionality at all.
In the consumer router market, the story is much the same. There are still only a small number of routers that can suppport IPv6 and those that do often suffer from buggy, incomplete or non-compliant implementations. This makes the IPv6 path a frustrating one for early adopters such as myself. I don’t get the feeling that vendors are seeing IPv6 as important at the moment. I really hope this changes soon.
In the IT world, most people have heard of IPv6 by now. Many Internet-centric companies already have IPv6 connectivity and an IPv6 web presence. Many ISPs are set to start the roll-out of IPv6 to end-users this year. Outside of these companies, however, people seem to have little understanding about IPv6.
In my work as an IT Architect, I see many proposed solutions. Worryingly, it seems many companies are still designing IPv4 only networks to be deployed in 2012 and 2013 with no consideration of how they will provide IPv6 capability, both internally and for internet-facing services. Failing to provide IPv6 capability at the outset could result in a whole host if problems.
Deploying an IPv4-only network now could result in the requirement to re-design in less time than was originally planned for, introducing more cost and work. For companies whose web presence is core to their business, as IPv6-based connections to home users become the norm, loss of revenue could result. Most companies consider email an essential service nowadays. As more organisations switch to IPv6 there may be issues with mail routing. IPv4 addresses will become more expensive and less available in the near future, in fact this process has already started. Growing an IPv4 deployment may become increasingly expensive and difficult because of this.
This issue does not just affect Internet-facing services either. Although it is possible to run a mixed environment, this tends to work better if client PCs run native IPv6 stacks rather than doing translation at the network layer. This means reconfiguring many machines to support dual-stack working or switching to an IPv6 only network internally. All of the main operating systems can handle this fine, it’s embedded devices like network printers and IP ‘phones which may struggle without a firmware update. Many vendors of these type of devices seem to be seeing the IPv6 switchover as a method to force clients to upgrade to newer versions of these devices and hence are not offering firmware updates to provide IPv6 support.
In summary then, companies would do well to consider their roadmap to IPv6 capability sooner rather than later. Indeed, those companies which take this on board now could use this as a strategic edge over their competitors.