Embrace the Future, Kentucky

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Why should we embrace the future of IPv6?

How does it affect our organization?

I’m asked these legitimate questions all the time. Not too many people even notice the Internet’s original underlying communication protocol, IPv4. It just works. Who really cares about an IP address, right?

Anybody who runs an organization or manages the technology infrastructure that depends on Internet connectivity should care about IPv6. Running out of IP address space is a very big deal for Internet communication. I’m not saying to drop everything you are doing immediately, but you need to start talking about it. Better yet, engage a partner with IPv6 experience.

Let’s take a step back in history for a moment. Often times, in order to understand the present, we have to look at the past.

Back in 1990, Frank Solensky reported to the Internet Engineering Task Force that the allocation rate of IPv4 address space was heading for a cliff in five years (my wording not his). There were four outcomes to this eye-opening report. Three of these outcomes introduced ways in which the life of IPv4 could be extended. The fourth outcome was an invitation for proposals to replace IPv4 with a next generation protocol. This next generation protocol would eventually become IPv6.

The specification for IPv6 was released in 1998 and became commercially available in 2006. Since then, IPv6 adoption has been extremely slow. Very few anticipated IPv4 to survive so long, even with the extended life. 

Why was IPv6 adoption so slow?

There was no urgency. Since IPv4 was still widely available, there was no urgency to deploy it outside of major Internet players and mobile carriers in emerging markets.  

This all changed in September 2015, when North America ran out of their allocated IPv4 address space. Suddenly, moving to IPv6 became absolutely necessary. For example, service providers that required more IPv4 address space to acquire new customers and markets suddenly discovered they didn’t have the IPv4 resources available, stalling plans for growth. The price of IPv4 space started to skyrocket. Global companies, just four years prior in 2011, were buying IP space to safeguard their future. For example, Microsoft purchased 660,624 IPv4 addresses for $11.25 each ($7.5 million) to safeguard their IPv4 resources on their path to IPv6. 

Fast forward to 2017.

IPv6 has moved past the innovation and early adoption stages and is now moving into the early majority stage. Google, Facebook, Akamai, Verizon, T-Mobile, and hundreds of other huge companies that play critical roles in how we reach content on the Internet are all moving to IPv6, many with plans to eliminate the use of IPv4 altogether.

According to Google, as of 2017, the United States has grown to a 35% adoption rate for IPv6 deployment. The statistics show that IPv6 is on the rise and IPv4 has reached its end of life.

What does this mean to those of us not embracing IPv6?

The Internet is going to eventually run IPv6 only. Those who don’t move to the next generation protocol will either pay a high price for services that keep IPv4 operations alive or will phase out of business. Eventually the costs of operating IPv4 will simply be too high. It’s a brutal reality we must all accept. Just ask anybody who had to keep dialup modem servers alive or run legacy applications like enterprise faxing. Dialup internet access was mature, but completely disrupted by cable and DSL. Faxing still lives on as that proverbial monkey wrench thrown into the wheels of progress. Eventually, IPv4 will have this same fate. Progress is progress.

Like Windows 95, Lotus Notes, and the Atari 2600, IPv4 will fall into a historical time line within the evolutionary history of technology. 

Organizations have the option to start creating a strategic plan to deploy IPv6 over a period of time that fits their growth and business plans. Partnering with a company with proven IPv6 experience will ensure you reach this new destination successfully.

IPv6 is the future – let’s embrace it.

Future-Proof your piece of Kentucky.

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