Start Checking IT Systems for IPv6 Readiness

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-02-03 Print this article Print


Instead, what you'll see is that some sites will enable IPv6 alongside their IPv4 sites, just as Google and Netflix have already done. But most users are going to need the ability to run IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time so they can get to the entire Internet. Fortunately, nearly all modern computers and infrastructure hardware are capable of supporting both protocols at the same time using dual IP stacks. For example, Windows 7 computers have IPv6 networking installed and enabled by default. Most modern switches and routers will support both IPv4 and IPv6 now. 

The biggest hurdle for most companies is finding a way to ensure they can actually use IPv6 and then attempting to see if they can reach the places they need to reach. Unfortunately, major Internet providers don't seem to have made the switch, so they're not much help. There is, however, Hurricane Electric that provides an IPv6 tunnel broker service that will give you access to the IPv6 Internet even if your provider doesn't offer a way. 

So if there's no big rush, does that mean you don't have to do anything? Not exactly. For many companies there will come a time, perhaps in a few years, when there will be no choice but to move some functions to IPv6. Eventually, there just won't be enough addresses to go around, even with reuse through dynamic addressing and other means of slowing down the need.  

The best way to make the transition is not to wait until the last minute. Instead, it's worth taking the time to identify those devices on your network that can't do IPv6 at all, and either schedule them for replacement or for transfer to a part of your network that won't need IPv6 right away. For those devices that are capable of IPv6, but are not yet enabled for it, it's probably worth considering enabling it, assuming that it's economically feasible. If not, then pretend it's not capable and treat the devices as you would if they weren't capable at all. 

Finally, for those devices and computers that appear to be able to support IPv6, you should plan on testing them. This might be the time to take advantage of Hurricane Electric's services to see just how smoothly your network can transition into IPv6.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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