IPv6 – why you should care!

Why should you care about IPv6 and what are the consequences of not having IPv6 support? Task Force Technical Convenor Dean Pemberton answers this most important of questions:

The hard thing about IPv6 adoption is that there is no hard-date. It’s not like y2k where we had a date to work to.  The time when IPv6 is going to matter to you is going to be different for everyone.

There are people for whom it matters today.  Similarly there are people for whom it will be 10 years before it matters. The thing that the Task Force has been focussed on is ensuring that if the time comes when you do care, that the barriers to you adopting IPv6 have been lowered by all our hard work along the way.

Here is an example of why someone might care:

Much has been made of the fact that IPv4 addresses have been exhausted within the Asia Pacific region. Thats not such a problem for a small New Zealand business.  They might never need anymore addresses.  It is tempting for them to put IPv6 out of their minds and focus on IPv4. The problem however is that there are parts of the region where this IS a huge problem.  China and India have a gigantic Internet growth curve.  There are hundreds of ISPs starting up in those countries each week and each of them can only have 1000 IPv4 addresses each.  They can however have millions more many IPv6 addresses.  I can tell you first hand that these new networks are being deployed with a preference on IPv6.

Now again, why do you care in New Zealand?  Well imagine that you are trying to do business with people in China and India.  IPv4 and IPv6 networks are largely incompatible, so a user in India on IPv6 will not be able to talk to a user in New Zealand on IPv4. We are seeing a growing interest in the New Zealand export sector when it comes to IPv6 adoption.  They don’t want a huge proportion of their target market to go dark.

I was in a hotel in India recently.  It was impossible to get an IPv4 address but IPv6 addresses were available.  Luckily I have my VPN service in
New Zealand on IPv4 and IPv6 so I was able to continue working. If I was a New Zealand IT manager with an IPv4 only network and my CEO was in that same hotel, I can imagine I’d have to fix the problem pretty quickly.

So you can see, it’s not always about when your network will need IPv6, but more about a large part of the rest of the internet adopting. As a colleague said recently “It’s not about if you need IPv6 or not. It’s about if you’d like to continue to be able to talk to the WHOLE Internet or not”.

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