Will IPv6 be the new Y2K?

| Monday, February 15th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

It’s now 2010 and the world is running out of IP addresses. Actually, it’s been running out ever since the Internet became the de facto medium for communication. The number of devices that need access to the Internet was never anticipated from IPv4′s original design. Devices such as digital camera’s, PDA’s, TV’s, video gaming consoles, multiple PC’s in every home, refrigerators, the list goes on.

The IETF knew this and started working on IPv6 over 10 years ago. This IP addressing scarcity hasn’t yet really made the mainstream news media. But it will, when they find out people can’t visit their own website!

Party like it’s 1999!

So does anyone even remember the chaos regarding the Year 2000 bug? Here’s a quick 411 to refresh your memories. Ripped from Wiki:

In computer programs, the practice of representing the year with two digits becomes problematic with logical error(s) arising upon “rollover” from x99 to x00. This has caused some date-related processing to operate incorrectly for dates and times on and after January 1, 2000 and on other critical dates which were billed “event horizons“. Without corrective action, it was suggested that long-working systems would break down when the “…97, 98, 99, 00…” ascending numbering assumption suddenly became invalid. Companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems.

There was a rush to update all clocks of any kind, people thought this was it, the end of the world, Armageddon was upon us!

plymouth

Planes would fall from the skies(seriously, people thought that)

Empty Grocery

In anticipation of food shortages, people hoarded all they could get.

But when the clock struck midnight, it was just another new day, Armageddon has been delayed, at least until 2012(but that’s for another blog)……

Would you like fries with that?

The 5th Element

Maybe I'll super size it?

So what’s the really big deal with IPv6? Hindsight would tell us to have created more IP addresses from the getgo! But that’s why they call it hindsight.

IPv6 brings with it a slew of features that are head over heals better than IPv4.

  • Abundance of IP addresses, really…a lot!
  • Built in IPsec tunneling, true end-to-end connectivity.
  • Reduction in CPU resources due to better packet handling by routers. Faster processing of packets. Faster network!
  • Smaller routing table, especially for backbone routers.
  • Elimination of DHCP with SAC. (stateless autoconfiguration)
  • Mobile IPv6.
  • Changing IP addresses on the fly without rebooting your device.
  • Elimination of virtual and subinterfaces! Multiple address allocation per interface. All IP addresses are created equal.
  • Multiple gateways means multiple paths which means redundancy!
  • Quality of Service. Great for video and telephony applications.
  • No more NATS. Goodbye proxy/relay servers!
  • much much more!

Can’t IPv4 and IPv6 co-exist?

The difference between IPv6 and the Y2K bug is that we are not up against any particular hard deadline. With Y2K, you had no choice, you HAD to update your clocks before January 1st, 2000 @ 12:00:00 AM or face the consequences. It’s hard to quantify if updating the clocks saved us from doom, or if it was all just hype. Suffice it to say, not much happened, and the status quo was maintained, and at the end of the day, that’s all people really cared about.

We are afforded the ability for soft migration from IPv4 to IPv6. We have ample time to plan and prepare for the upgrade. These protocols can exist in parallel. In fact, they exist in parallel right now! It’s just that if you do happen to go on the internet via IPv6, there’s not much there! It’s your typical chicken and the egg scenario. Who in their right mind is going to build web servers for IPv6 when there’s no one on the IPv6 internet? Even if you wanted to do that, does your hosting facility even support IPv6 traffic? Probably not.

However, you can build your own local IPv6 network for local testing. You can test your apps now, get them ready so you don’t find yourself scrambling when IPv6 is all over mainstream media and your customers are asking, “Do you guys support IPv6?”

Here are some possible concerns for your business:

  • Applications that are custom tailored for IPv4. (websites, ecommerce, databases etc…)
  • IPv4 database storage. If your DB column is set to 15 characters(CHAR or VARCHAR), you better change it! (For ex: 192.168.100.100 is 15 characters)
  • If you have an application that filters based on IPv4 addresses.
  • If your web server uses virtual IP addresses.
  • Network management software or any application that builds off of single router/gateway topology.
  • IPv6 uses colons and percentages in its address. Can you think of any application that this can break?
    (I’ll give you a hint, browser URL’s and Windows UNC, and I’m sure there’s more….UNIX scripting anyone?)

There are a many possible scenarios that can play out and only you and your business can determine how much of an impact IPv6 will have. Time is still on your side. I highly doubt any ISP is going to give you 2 weeks notice to upgrade to IPv6, but they will push it hard. It’s going to be the new internet. IPv6 will create new jobs, and it will kill some.

Resistance is futile.

Share