Happy IPv6 Day, What Did You Get?

OK. Maybe it's not an actual holiday or a full-on conversion. However, it's a milestone in the ultimate, slow transition from IPv4 addressing to IPv6 addressing.

 By Brian Proffitt
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World IPv6 day, where Web properties around the world test drive their sites using the IPv6 protocol, is today. It's not a holiday by anyone's real stretch of the imagination, nor is it a full-on switch-out. But it will be a milestone in the ultimate, slow transition from current IPv4 addressing to IPv6 addressing.

According to the Internet Society's FAQ page on the event, "is a global-scale test flight of IPv6 sponsored by the Internet Society. On World IPv6 Day, major Web companies and other industry players will come together to enable IPv6 on their main Web sites for 24 hours. The goal is to motivate organizations across the industry -- Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and Web companies -- to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 address space runs out."

Basically this is one big 24-hour awareness event to prepare us all for what life will be like after all the current 32-bit IP addresses run out.

Oh, wait, that already happened.

There is no sign of any kind of catastrophic collapse now that there's no more unallocated IPv4 addresses, but there is a little bit more urgency in the efforts to get people to pay more attention to IPv6. But the fact that there's no Year 2000-type disaster looming in the headlines seems to have put a damper on IPv6 network deployments.

The trick to implementing IPv6 may be not treating it as a upgrade migration project -- at least in traditional terms. When you upgrade software, for instance, the older version of the software is typically removed, and your organization must deal with the consequences -- good and bad -- of the new software version.

But when implementing IPv6, there's no reason to eliminate IPv4. In fact, you would not want to, because a vast majority of networked servers will still roll with IPv4 in a dual-stack or tunneling scenario for a long time. Instead, when you swap out existing infrastructure for any reason, all you need to do is just make sure the new equipment or software is IPv6-compliant. Then it's just a matter of taking a little extra time to make sure IPv6 is running alongside IPv4 for that new component.

That's a piecemeal way of solving the problem, of course. Even as you roll out IPv6-compatible components, you will also need to identify all of the components in your infrastructure that actually need IPv6. It could be a big list, depending on the size of your organization, because there's a lot of IT assets that are network enabled. Client computers, Web servers, file servers, printers, routers, WiFi, firewalls, switches... even any mobile device your organization for which has responsibility.

Without a complete inventory, there could come a day when your organization will switch over to IPv6 and discover gaping deadzones in your network topology because of one forgotten switch somewhere.

This article was originally published on Jun 8, 2011
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