IPV6 for Dummies (or Biz Dev Guys)

January 31, 2009

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“Dummy” is definitely referring to any guy in the internet industry that has business in his/her title and also refers to other functional areas without core technology functions, like accounting (sorry Mike Jones!!). Softlayer has recently made a tremendous splash in the IPV6 world with our recent announcement to natively support IPV6 across all platforms within our environment. As a simple Biz Dev guy who usually gets introduced as the least technical in the room, here is my over-written, non-technical view of what the hype is all about.

What does IPV6 stand for?

Internet Protocol Version 6

So what the problem with IPv4?

As I see it there are about 4.5 billion IP addresses that can be utilized. In practice, after all of the wasted IP’s make their way through the world, there are more like 3,000,000,000 (that’s Billion) useful IP’s useable in version 4 (IPV4). Definitely seems like a lot, but it’s pretty well said throughout the internet that about 85% of these have been assigned and the unassigned are predicted to be at capacity in early 2011. Apparently this internet thing is not a fad and may be around for a bit longer. Assuming that the internet continues on its rapid growth pace, we are going to hit a wall.

How will IPV6 solve the problem and how robust is it?

So, obviously when there are limited amounts of available numbers, the logical step is to add numbers. Seems simple, but it’s a little more than just moving a decimal point. It’s a serious undertaking that has some major ramifications when talking about IP, including product and service delivery from the manufacturer to the service provider and everything in between. Due to the fact that I cannot figure out what this means “about 3.4×1038” I don’t know the exact numbers of IP addresses that Ipv6 will scale to, but I do know that it’s a lot more than Ipv4 (I did mention that this is IPV6 for dummies, didn’t I?). Basic gist is it’s a lot. Look for use cases across industry, but a leading driver has been the “on-demand” television industry, which indicates that over 500 channels of on-demand video is not that far off. Other indications can be seen here.

How long will this take and what does it affect?

In almost everything I have read it looks like a 3-7 year deployment timeframe to get Ipv6 implemented on a major scale. The deployment will effect almost everything internet, including bandwidth providers, manufacturers of network devices, software companies deploying in an IP environment, data center operators and everything in between. It will definitely be ‘of topic’ throughout the industry going forward.

So what does this mean to the common guy (aka Dummy) and the Technical guy?
In short, the non-technical guy will continue to surf and communicate uninterrupted as the change occurs. I look at the switch like my experience with local phone numbers. Growing up in a small town I used a seven digit system for local phone service (xxx-xxxx). The area code was for long distance only. Moving to Dallas, I realized the limitations of the seven digit phone number as the area code became part of the local dialing and we moved to a 10 digit system (xxx-xxx-xxxx). To me there was no real difference, but understanding the law of numbers, I got that the space was needed.

For the technical crowd the transition will start dictating decisions in their usage of IP based products, services, etc. Terms like “Dual-Stacked” and “IPv6 Compliant” will be often heard (or not) terms by the internet decision-makers in the future. The importance of a service provider that offers IPv6 throughout its network and has a fully functional dual stacked program in place will ensure a seamless transition throughout the IPv4 to IPv6 transition.

SoftLayer and IPv6

As mentioned and referenced in the recent press release SoftLayer is ahead of the curve on the IPv6 transition. Customers now have the ability to utilize the IPv6 format via our customer portal and API. We will continue to run Dual Stacked throughout the transition period and we will continue to work with all of our vendors on their transition into the IPv6 arena. We have committed to our customers that we will continue to be on the forefront of the IPv6 transition and we hope to answer the hard questions with a very simple “yes we do/can”.

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