What do IPv6 Day and Y2K have in common? I’ll break it down for you real simple: a lot of stuff happened, but most of us never noticed. Now, let me explain in detail…
Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPV6) is the newest technology that has everyone stirring for solutions to problems that hadn’t yet been fully realized. Not until IPv6 day, that is. As digital consumers, we need our information to be retrieved faster than ever, and all connectivity is expected to be warp speed. The current IPv4 exhaustion crisis is eerily similar to Y2K in that the eventual outcome was expected to go two different ways: either nothing will happen or complete Armageddon will ensue. But there’s also a fundamental difference: we’re not nearly as worked up about IPv4 exhaustion as we were about Y2K ahead of the fact.
Each IPV4-to-IPV6 and IPV6-to-IPV4 conversion adds an extra “hop” and requires a large amount of computing power to process information about who you are trying to talk to, and who you are known by on the other end. The coexistence of both protocols seems to be consistent with a family traveling on vacation; precious vacation time is wasted by the family (IPv4) driving to the airport, then transferring to a plane (IPv6), in an overall attempt to save time in the air. In the fastest scenario possible, you wouldn’t want to use two means of transportation, instead opting to use your private plane in the back yard (IPv6).
Without large scale testing to ensure consistent connections, 400 of the world’s largest organizations like Facebook, Microsoft and Google recently participated in “World IPv6 Day” trying to identify problems associated from IPv4 to IPv6.For the first time, players from all parts of the industry worked toward the common goal of enabling IPv6 at a large scale publicly, with minimal disruption. By acting together, ISPs, web site administrators, OS manufacturers, and equipment vendors were able to address problems, such as IPv6 brokenness in home networks and incomplete IPv6 interconnection. Also, on the day itself, any global scalability problems were found in a controlled fashion and resolved cooperatively.
“Will it work?” “What will crash?” “Will the world End?” (Sound familiar?) These were all questions that needed to be answered, and were. Yes it works, no it didn’t crash and burn, and no, the world did not explode. From a business perspective, leading companies need to keep creating high value applications that almost all take advantage of one or more forms of connectivity. Plixer’s NetFlow analyzer has IPv6 support since version 7, but with current IPv4 addresses nearly exhausted, the time for change is now. And what do we know about technology? We know the only thing consistent is evolution.
A lot like the days of Y2K, government leadership has stepped up in establishing the NGTWG and mandating implementation mile stones. What that means for the average ‘net surfer is only smooth sailing from here on out, but nothing like waiting till the last minute, am I right folks?
While I know it is definitely time to start moving to IPv6, in order to do that, we need people who have expertise in doing so. My suggestion to network and system administrators is to use your home systems as test cases now so you understand some of the pitfalls of IPv6 implementation on a smaller scale. Doing a more large-scale enterprise is going to require a more substantial effort, and if you don’t have the basics mastered the effort will be much more difficult. IPv6 conversion is not forgiving at all. But as we’ve all seen, preparation for the global transition to IPv6 needs to happen, and once all is complete, it will quietly fade away just like Y2K.