Put Pressure on ISPs, Hardware Vendors to Support IPv6

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-06-09 Print this article Print

Levy also advises that organizations should make sure that the hardware they buy really supports IPv6. As he points out, there's no reason to buy hardware that doesn't since IPv4 addresses are already exhausted and IPv6 is inevitable. He said that if you already have reasonably new hardware, it's possible that you can solve the problem with a firmware upgrade.

What's frustrating is that IPv6 adoption should be fairly simple. Every version of Windows since XP SP3 supports IPv6 natively. So does every Mac OS device and so do most Linux distributions. Even some mobile devices will accept IPv6 address assignments. But all of this IPv6 in the client world does you no good if you can't get to the outside world because your router or firewall won't pass the packets. Even if your router or firewall will pass the packets, it doesn't help if your ISP doesn't support IPv6.

You can get around this to some extent if you use a tunnel broker such as the one from Hurricane Electric, which will create an IPv6 tunnel from your workstation to the IPv6 backbone, but that only works if you can get through your firewall. There are of course other ways to try the IPv6 universe, and there are sites, including Google and Facebook, that have IPv6-only sites so you can try out your connection.

But the problem of getting to the IPv6 world remains. Those handy tools that you've used for years to set up your IPv4 network don't exist in the IPv6 world. The setup wizards aren't there; the local DHCP servers are hard to find and harder to implement. The enterprise infrastructure hardware doesn't really support IPv6, even if it claims to.

The solution is fairly straightforward. When you buy new infrastructure gear for your network, insist that it support IPv6 completely and if necessary have the vendor prove it to you. Also have the vendor prove that the gear can be supported by your existing IT staff. Part of the problem with IPv6 is that it has become the purview of consultants who know the undocumented secrets of some types of equipment and only they can make it work-for a fee, of course. But today's IT departments can't afford to depend on consultants for their basic needs.

As a result, it's time that you made your infrastructure manufacturer prove that they can support IPv6, and make your ISP prove it as well. If they can't, then don't spend your money with them. There's competition these days-take advantage of it. 

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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