Is It True? Is IPv6 Really about to Get Turned On?

We’ve all been reading about and “preparing” for IPv6 for years. But for most of that time there has been a lot more planning than doing. Now many regions are about to exhaust their IPv4 address. Will this years World IPv6 Day in June mark the official start of the transition?

Here in the US we’re predicted to run out of IPv4 addresses by June 2013.

The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) ran out in April 2011.

Europe’s RIR should run out in August in 2012.

Every other regional internet registry (RIR) is down to their last batch of IPv4.

Despite using fancy tricks like NAT (network address translation) the end is clearly in sight for IPv4. If you’re the panicky type you might start having flashbacks to Y2K. But don’t go out and fill up your emergency food stocks just yet. It’s true we’ve delayed the inevitable, but overall we’re much better prepared for IPv6 transition than we were for Y2K - even just a few years out.

Last June the Internet Society (ISOC) sponsored the first World IPv6 day with the intention of getting ISPs and enterprises to turn on IPv6 as a test. In an interview with ReadWrite Enterprise senior public policy manager for ISOC Sally Wentworth said, “Last year, a lot of companies had a chance to turn it on, test it, see what went right, what went wrong, where we needed to do more work. What we also found, though, is that a lot of companies left it on, because they didn’t have the problems they thought they would.”

This year, major ISPs, websites and manufacturers are committed to turning on IPv6 and leaving it on as of June 6th. A full list of participants can be found at the World IPv6 Day website, but it includes Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cisco, D-Link, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Bing.

So if you work on networks, run a business reliant on the internet or internal networks (and who doesn’t?) then hold onto your hats. The switch is about to happen (and it isn't as simple as flipping a switch of course, but it's an effective analogy). If you’ve been simply planning, or even avoiding the issue, it’s probably time to start paying attention. Will it be the end of the internet, or of your business? No, especially if June 6th goes as well as last year. But as this article in ZDnet recommends - start hiring people who know IPv6. And start now.