IPv6 has the potential to be a turning point in the evolution of the Internet, the global economy and many businesses. But the decision to fund IPv6 deployment in your company is easier to make if you take into consideration your organization's priorities, business model, and the market in which it operates. Knowledge Center contributors Patrick Grossetete, Ciprian P. Popoviciu and Fred Wettling explain how to build a business case that would justify resources being spent for the move to IPv6.
Internet evolved from its academic and research environment origins to
become an ubiquitous infrastructure used daily by the global economy.
Most businesses today, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to ISPs,
are partially or fully-dependent on Internet connectivity (as are most
consumers). While spending on Information Technologies represents a
cost often limited as much as possible by executive management, the
critical importance of IP communications and services justifies the
significant investments made in deploying them.
It explains the emphasis on their flawless operation. Both
perspectives set the bar for new technology adoption: funding its
deployment requires strong business cases, and approving its
integration requires assurances that it will not impact the existing,
revenue-generating or supporting infrastructure.
Making the case for the adoption of a foundational transport
technology such as IPv6 is particularly challenging, in the context of
the two perspectives mentioned above. After all, this new version of
the Internet Protocol has only a few enhancements--which, to people
outside the "IPv6 lovers or haters" communities, may not really amount
to much of a business case that would justify resources being spent for
an upgrade. Moreover, the natural expectation is that this new
infrastructure protocol will have an impact on the existing network.
So, why should an organization even look at IPv6?
To answer this question, we first need to remember that today nobody
really questions the benefits of the Internet and the need for its
continuous growth. IPv6 is essential to sustain this growth, to get
more people and devices connected to the Internet. This perspective
underlines the fact that IPv6 is NOT a feature, but instead, the
fundamental IP network layer of the TCP/IP model developed to support
end-to-end services and network transparency (which succeeded to end of
life most of the 1970's proprietary protocols such as Appletalk,
DECnet, IPX, SNA and others). Any attempt to build a business case for
IPv6 must take this into consideration. IPv6 is not the answer to all
technical problems faced by the Internet, but it provides the resources
for its continued growth--and that translates into business value.
Premises for building a business case for IPv6
The IT industry finally came to the realization that uncovering the
"IPv6-based killer application" may not be the critical element in
considering IPv6 adoption. After all, we should look not only at "What
is the new thing that IPv6 adoption will provide?", but also "What will
we lose if we don't adopt it?" The impending IPv4 address space
exhaustion is clearly supporting this perspective and helping the case
for IPv6. But, at first glance, this may not be a concern for some
organizations. Moreover, ten years of experimental and trial
deployments built sufficient confidence in the protocol to safely
consider its integration in production environments.
At this point in time, the perspective taken on building a business
case for IPv6 adoption depends less on the technology details and more
on the priorities of an organization, its business model, and the
market in which it operates. Let's look at the following six examples
of case studies we discuss in our book "Global IPv6 Strategies: From Business Analysis to Operational Planning," Cisco Press (2008):
1. Comcast example: Performing the same as on IPv4 but on a larger scale
When reviewing the business growth opportunity and forecast, an
organization dependent on the Internet for its revenues must
investigate the value of the "infinite" IPv6 address space to
sustaining business growth. This is one of the primary drivers for IPv6
adoption, and it is exemplified in the Comcast case study.
2. Bechtel Corporation example: Operational cost savings or simpler network models
A business not directly related to the Internet, but highly
dependent on the flow of information, is always considering
improvements and optimizations to information availability and
distribution. IPv6 helps large organizations with operational cost
savings and optimizations, as they have to keep up with a growing
geographical footprint, constantly-changing network topology, and an
increasing number of networked devices. The Bechtel case
study shows how a multinational organization can benefit from IPv6
3. NTT example: Deployment of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services
Another example would be walled garden services from ISPs such as
Tokyo, Japan-based NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation).
When deploying IPTV services, including HDTV (High Definition TV),
streaming over FTTH (Fiber-to-the-Home) to several devices sitting on a
home network, a choice between IPv6 Multicast or NATed IPv4 Multicast
led to an IPv6 end-to-end model simplicity.
4. ArchRock example: Leading the innovation - no IP legacy - new business
IP convergence is not just the buzzword du jour; it is reality for
voice, video, audio and data traffic. The convergence process will
continue, regardless of the version of IP used for transport. For this
reason, all innovative businesses relying on IP-based data exchange
should look at integrating IPv6 support from day one on all new
products. They should also consider leveraging some of the key features
of the technology. The ArchRock case study provides an example of a
startup relying on IPv6 to provide another level of convergence:
sensors communicating over IP.
5. U.S. Federal Government example: Preparing the future
Nobody doubts that IPv6 will be adopted, and that we will slowly
transition to it. Even if this is a long-term project, organizations
such as the U.S. Federal Government (which is known to plan
projects having a 20-year duration) must evaluate emerging
technologies which may become mainstream during the life of the
project. This has to be done to avoid major restructuring during the
life of the project.
6. Cisco and Command Information examples - Opportunities to win or lose business
When evaluating business opportunities, organizations should also
look at the potential loss that may occur due to an inability to
address customers' requests related to a technology unfamiliar to
interact with its vendors or partners.
A business can drive
the market by showing how the technology is used internally and how it
consolidates its growth by offering products and services over both
IPv4 and IPv6. This perspective is described in the Cisco and Command
Information case studies.
The above-mentioned considerations underline the fact that, at first
sight, the business case for IPv6 is not a trivial one to make. This is
typical for a fundamental technology. IPv6 has, however, the potential
to sooner or later be an inflection point in the evolution of the
Internet, the global economy and many businesses. Regardless in what
market your organization operates, the case for IPv6 adoption is easier
to make if you take into consideration your business and operational
model, along with the basic technology considerations.
Patrick Grossetete, Ciprian P. Popoviciu and Fred Wettling are co-authors of "Global IPv6 Strategies: From Business Analysis to Operational Planning," Cisco Press (2008).
Patrick Grossetete is Technical Director of Product Management
and Customer Solutions at San Francisco, Calif.-based Arch Rock, a
pioneering company in IP-based wireless sensor network technology.
Previously, Patrick led a product management team at Cisco Systems and
was responsible for a suite of Cisco IOS software technologies,
including IPv6 and IP Mobility. Prior to joining Cisco in 1994, Patrick
worked at Digital Equipment Corporation as a consulting engineer for
network design and deployment. Patrick is a regular speaker at
conferences and industry events, including the IPv6 Forum, which he
joined in 1999 as a Cisco representative. In addition to the book
"Global IPv6 Strategies", Patrick co-authored "Deploying IPv6
Networks", another Cisco Press book published in February 2006. In June
2003, Patrick received the "IPv6 Forum Internet Pioneer Award" at the
San Diego summit. His degree in computer science was awarded by the
Control Data Institute, Paris. Patrick continues to live near Paris,
and enjoys MotoGP, motorcycle Grand Prix road racing featuring machines
built exclusively for racing, not public sale or use on public
motorways. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P. Popoviciu, PhD, CCIE No. 4499, is a technical leader at Cisco
Systems with more than ten years of experience in data and Voice over
IP communications technologies. As part of the Cisco Network Solution
Integration Test Engineering (NSITE) organization, he focuses on the
architecture, design and validation of large IPv6 network deployments
in direct collaboration with service providers and enterprises
worldwide. Ciprian is a regular speaker or chair at conferences and
industry events. He is an active contributor to the IETF standards, a
senior member of IEEE, and a member of several academic advisory
boards. Ciprian holds a BS from Babes-Bolyai University, Romania, and
an MS and PhD from the University of Miami. Ciprian can be reached at email@example.com.
Wettling manages architecture and strategic planning for Bechtel
Corporation, one of the world's premier engineering, construction, and
project management companies. Fred is one of 20 Bechtel Fellows, out of
a population of 40,000. He has extensive experience in project and
office startups, major technology transitions, innovations, and
technology operations. Fred is active within and outside of Bechtel,
promoting standards-based technology interoperability that supports
global enterprise business needs. Fred is a member of the IEEE, North
American IPv6 Task Force, and IPv6 Forum, and is executive director of
the IPv6 Business Council. He served as the Network Applications
Consortium (NAC) chairman for five years. He is a senior member of the
Cisco Enterprise and Federal Technical Advisory Boards, and served on
the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee
(NSTAC) Next Generation Network Task Force as a subject matter expert.
Fred can be reached at Fred.Wettling@bechtel.com.