Beca tackles IPv6 head-on

Professional services and infrastructure consultancy Beca began getting serious about IPv6 as early as 2009.

Speaking at the Computerworld New Zealand IPv6 event today, CIO Robin Johansen says the company decided to position IPv6 as a prudential asset mangement project, implementing it as a component of normal asset husbandry, not as a big-bang project.

The company initally undertook a vendor roadmap for IPv6, to confirm if future product releases would offer support. It also conducted an internal lifecycle review of its network components, and then developed a technology roadmap and migration strategy.

This was presented to management as a straightforward asset management program.

Beca’s IPv6 implementation however was not without challenges. The company found that many of its products were non IPv6-compliant. These included its Telecom One Office network, WAN optimisation appliances and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. Many of its licences, printers and even wireless access points were also not IPv6-ready.

“We realised at an early stage that an IPv6-only network would be hard to accomplish. Our legacy network components were unlikely to ever be IPv6-ready and immediate decommissioning or replacment was not an option,” says Johansen.

Beca’s solution was a hybrid IPv6 / IPv4 network. It adopted a policy to enable IPv6 wherever possible; all servers, workstations and switches are now IPv6-enabled. The organisation also ensured that new network components were IPv6-capable and, when it went to market for a new WAN, its RFP included IPv6 as a must-have.

Progress continues, says Johansen. Over the last two years many hurdles have been removed through new firmware releases and hardware replacements, and Microsoft Direct Access has produced an unexpected “win” which was not envisaged at the outset.

Beca recently migrated to an IPv6-capable WAN infrastructure and ISP, and has decommissioned its legacy PABX. In the coming year it will make another push to complete IPv6 adoption across its entire network. This too will be a hybrid solution as its Microsft Lync 2010 is not IPv6-compliant.

Johansen says the process of IPv6 implementation has taken time and has required a significant amount of patience, diligence and perseverance. Its approach however has been “relentless” and “top of mind at all times”.

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