Security Experts:

It's Official. IPv4 is Out, Time to Transition to IPv6

It’s official. The IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) this week allocated the last IP address blocks from the global IPv4 central address pool.

IPv4 Runs OutWhile the last IPv4 addresses have been allocated, it’s expected to take several months for regional registries to consume all their remaining regional IPv4 address pools, with recent trends suggesting that Asia, Europe, and North America will exhaust in that order within a month or two on either side of July 1, 2011, according to the IPv6 Forum. Transition planning and adoption of IPv6 is critical to the on-going stability and growth of Internet Protocol based ICT, not only in the public Internet but in every facet of your office, home and mobile electronic existence where TCP/IP and other IP protocols are used. Training, management, support, billing, security and applications development need to be engaged to allow you to be IPv6 ready.

On June 8, 2011, the Internet Society (ISOC) has coordinated "World IPv6 Day," a one-day "test drive" of websites offering IPv6 support designed to offer a global-scale test flight of IPv6, where major web and networking companies and other industry leaders will enable IPv6 on their main websites for 24 hours.

“Google has been supporting IPv6 since early 2008, when we first began offering search over IPv6. Since then we’ve brought IPv6 support to YouTube and have been helping ISPs enable Google over IPv6 by default for their users,” according to a blog post by Lorenzo Colitti, a Network Engineer at Google. “On World IPv6 Day, we’ll be taking the next big step. Together with major web companies such as Facebook and Yahoo!, we will enable IPv6 on our main websites for 24 hours. This is a crucial phase in the transition, because while IPv6 is widely deployed in many networks, it’s never been used at such a large scale before.”

“Many believe that the move to IPv6 should be a board-level risk management concern, equivalent to the Y2K problem or Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. During the late 1990s, technology companies worldwide scoured their source code for places where critical algorithms assumed a two-digit date. This seemingly trivial software development issue was of global concern, so many companies made Y2K compliance a strategic initiative. The transition to IPv6 is of similar importance,” according to Ram Mohan, EVP and CTO at Aflias and a SecurityWeek contributor.

“It will take years for the Internet to fully switch to IPv6, so organizations need to prepare for a world in which both protocols are used simultaneously. CIOs who have not planned IPv6 transition plans as part of their strategic agenda must act now, or risk the entire enterprise online,” Mohan explains.

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The IPv6 Forum, a group with the mission to educate and promote the new protocol, recommends to all people involved in ICT, to leverage 2011 and 2012 for planning and rolling out IPv6. Enabling IPv6 in all ICT environments is not the end game but is now a critical requirement for continuity in all Internet business and services going forward. Production quality deployments will take time, starting late and accelerating the process will compromise quality and significantly raise the costs. The last thing that everyone should avoid is to have to rapidly deploy an unnecessarily costly IPv6 infrastructure to sustain growth and communicate with customers, suppliers, and partners.

"If you think you can ignore IPv6, think again. As new IPv4 addresses cannot be acquired the industry will be faced with customers / partners / suppliers who can only be reached via IPv6. Our industry will need to face the 'balkanization' of the Internet. It is time to act and to deploy IPv6 now," said Yanick Pouffary, NAv6TF Technology Director and IPv6 Forum Fellow.

And since it's Friday, I'll leave you with this. An IPv4 address walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "A strong CIDR please, I'm exhausted." Sorry, I had to.

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