A transition to the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) from the current Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) offers various benefits to the large enterprises. In addition to marked improvement in routing, inherent security, and the auto-configuration capabilities, the enterprises also have interests in IPv6 networks because it promises lower cost in deployment, maintenance and operation on a day-to-day basis; thereby leading to significant cost savings in the long-term for business enterprises.
An escalating demand for IP addresses acted as the driving force behind the development of IPv6. According to industry estimates, in the wireless domain alone, more than a billion mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), and other wireless devices will require Internet access, and each will need its own unique IP address.
Note that a significant number of these devices will by used by enterprises to improve productivity, as enterprise employees, for example, will be able to communicate with other employees in a seamless way. With the exponentially increasing demand for IP addresses, the world is fast outgrowing IPv4 and waiting to embrace IPv6.
The enterprises enjoy various benefits offered by the IPv6 due to the unique features of this protocol. One major benefit is a significantly larger address space (128-bit address space as opposed to 32-bit address space for Ipv4) that offers greater flexibility in assigning unique addresses over the Internet.
This allows a provision for permanent unique addresses to all the individuals and hardware connected to the Internet. Moreover, the extended address length eliminates the need to use techniques such as network address translation to avoid running out of the available addresses.
In addition IPv6, allows the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to simplify the tasks related to address assignment and renumbering. All these benefits offer direct advantages to the enterprises in bringing multimedia rich digital content to enhance business operations and productivity.
Enterprises are gearing up to adopt IPv6 in the following ways:
- Integration of IPv6 in product lifecycle replacement – Enterprises are focusing on IPv6 migration cost reduction by adding it into the planned product procurements of their existing information technology budgets. If the enterprise IT staff includes upgrades to IPv6 as part of their regular procurement process and select IPv6-enabled products, they can take an evolutionary approach towards adoption of the new protocol.
- Assessment of the existing infrastructure hardware for up gradation to IPv6 Enterprises are taking an inventory of their hardware infrastructure that is IPv4 specific. Software can be upgraded at will but some hardware must support the IPv6 by design. The devices most likely to require attention include routers at the high and low end. Advanced routers may include acceleration hardware limited to 32-bit addresses while the basic routers may not have enough memory to support the software using the IPv6 protocol.
- Specifying IPv6 compliance in the RFPs – Adding IPv6 support to new procurement beyond the core network helps enterprises meet the internal adoption deadlines for transition to IPv6. It refers to including the IPv6 support to all the IT requests for proposals. Integrating IPv6 procurement planning and training into existing IT processes helps the enterprises in meeting their upgrade deadlines and avoid any unexpected or unnecessary costs.
- Using transition technologies – Enterprises are incorporating temporary network tunneling until the end of the devices lifecycle to meet IPv6 compliance deadlines. Tunneling refers to the process of routing the IPv6 data packets through virtual paths in the network backbone by including them inside the IPv4 network address headers. Prior to the delivery at the node, the IPv6 packets are extracted and delivered via IPv6 service.
- Integration of IPv6 training into IT budget – Training costs might be significantly high in case of IPv6 migration. Integration of IPv6 training costs into the IT training budget helps in a smooth transition. Ideally, IPv6 should be considered a separate protocol requiring practice to gain proficiency.
- Reduction in financial cost – In order to reduce the financial cost and the accompanied operational impact of Ipv6 integration on a network, the enterprises will adopt different approaches. One possible approach is to deploy the IPv6 components in a fashion starting at the network fringes and gradually moving inwards towards the core.
Although the enterprises have interests in IPv6 deployments because it promises lower cost in deployment, maintenance and operation, it must be noted that IPv6 is one of those infrastructure expenditures that’s not about saving on IT budget, but rather an initiative that drives enterprise productivity. A significant issue for an IT manager is to implement an effective, reliable, cost-effective enterprise IPv6 solution with low total cost of ownership (TCO).