Over the last year I’ve written about the importance of developing your IPv6 skills now, and about how you should be looking at what kind of IPv6 support your vendors of choice have to offer. Some of you might think I’m being a Chicken Little by devoting any space to the advance of IPv6. IPv4 is the dominant version of Internet Protocol and widespread use of IPv6 is still years off, most of you say. Most of the networking pros and many of the vendors whom I talk to say its not something worth thinking about right now. There is plenty else to worry about.
Indeed, you may react to an IPv6 story or tip like I react to those commercials I’ve been seeing about the transition from analog to digital television broadcasts scheduled for February. “Upgrade your TVs today because in February TV stations will cease to broadcast analog signals. Yes, this means YOU, you folks who don’t have cable or satellite television. Vast multidues of you will be unable to watch NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS unless you buy a new TV or get a digital converter box… Or you could just get cable.”
Yes, I usually flip the channel when I see those commercials. If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you aren’t one of the 7.8 million Americans who will be affected by the end of analog TV, either. But chances are good that you should be paying attention to IPv6 because it is getting closer.
In a new research note entitled IPv4 Address Exhaustion: An Inconvenient Truth (client log-in required), analyst Jeff Young predicts that IPv4 addresses will run out in November 2011. That’s less than two years away. And you don’t want to wait until then to start planning for a transition. IPv4 addresses could start getting pricey. There is still no backwards compatibility between IPv4 and IPv6, which means that when IPv6-only hosts start cropping up on the Internet in a couple years, there could be large swaths of the Internet that these hosts can’t talk to. Any company that relies on IP networks to conduct business will want to have a handle on this transition early.