IBv6 has been the coming thing for quite a few years now, but like many things you start taking notice when some big bodies decide on adoption. The US Government is allegedly the largest technology infrastructure operator so its move to mandate all departments to have the ability to send and receive using IPv6 stacks within 3 years which expires on 30th June 2008 is clearly a BIG sign. But it doesn’t seem to have worked out too well in practice. The European Union feels the same way even publishing an action plan to help states follow its own version of this mandate.
However the big reason that was supposed to be the reason for adoption namely that that the limited number of IPv4 addresses would bring a limit to Internet expansion has not yet proven to be the issue that needs to be addressed. In fact I don’t think I have ever seen any comments from any user/administration direction that says this is proving to be an operational issue right now. So it seems we can all sit back and wait this one out till it does become an issue, right? Wrong!
Yes, you can take this attitude if you view use of the Internet continuing the way it has been, but no you can’t behave this way if you expect to use the Internet to support the way we are developing the use of the Web and more particularly the explosion in devices and types that will be on the Internet. However I have to admit that figuring this out from the official Ipv6 web site is a hopeless task hence why I guess the message about what IPv6 also addresses is just not getting out there.
The first point is that there is such a thing as IPv6 native applications, and a good example is to consider the use of IPv6 for Wireless devices, or cell phone handsets. The progress Skype made is legendary, but then so are the problems, if you want to make ‘phone to phone’ calls over IP Networks you really need fixed ‘numbers’ for the phones, as well as better routing, lower latency, quality of service, etc. In short it’s not just a connection as in the terms of the old Internet it’s a ‘service’ that is integrated to and supportive of the aims of the higher layers of services.
We are witnessing massive growth in user device types, functions supported and numbers all at once, and at the same time this creates a huge surge in ‘web’ based applications of all types. There seems to be a popular belief that the Web 2.0 principle of the ‘Web as a Platform’ means never having to worry about the Internet underneath. I think before we reach the end of addresses we will hit the challenge of inadequate service support from the Internet to our increasingly complex new Web based services.
That’s why some painless planning to support dual stacks, IPv4 for existing categories of traffic, and IPv6 for new categories of Web Services, looks something to take a serious look at and plan to do. Whatever the success or failure of the Government mandates!