In today’s technology driven environment, to succeed, businesses need to remain up-to-date with the latest developments. The Internet plays a critical role in business operations and as such, with the impending transition of IPv4 to IPv6, SMEs need to adopt early to meet the new challenges and reap the benefits.
So what’s the issue?
To date the Internet has been built largely on the IPv4 protocol. The finite pool of IPv4 addresses contains around four billion unique IP addresses. RIPE NCC, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Europe, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East, is expected to reach the last block of its available IPv4 address space later this year. To make sure your business remains connected to the Internet you will need to ensure you are IPv6-ready.
And what is IPv6?
IPv6 is the next generation protocol for IP addresses. It allows for a lot more addresses than IPv4 (roughly 340 trillion trillion trillion in total) and guarantees the continued expansion of the Internet. However, IPv6 is not directly compatible with IPv4 – this means that IPv6 must be universally adopted or connectivity problems will ensue.
Websites and networks that are accessible over IPv6 are set become a more commonplace after World IPv6 Launch on 6 June 2012, when the Internet community will switch on IPv6 capabilities for good.
So what do businesses need to do?
The first step is to assess where the business is in relation to IPv6. Most SMEs rely on their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for Internet connectivity and should check that they are able to provide access over IPv6 as a matter of urgency. In the RIPE NCC’s service region, 47 percent of ISPs have an IPv6 allocation. Globally 70 percent of ISPs plan to adopt IPv6 by the end of 2012.
Any hardware or software that is bought off the shelf should be IPv6 ready but may need to be configured. Old office equipment such as routers may not be IPv6 compatible and may need upgrading or even replacing. As such, it is important to carry out an IT audit of the technology used in the workplace. Many vendors will be able to provide advice.
There are also many IPv6 training course options available, from online education to face-to-face training. Staff may need educating before a plan of action can be created.
One strategy is called ‘dual stacking’ and involves running IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously This method allows access via both protocols so that if there are any kinks that need to be worked out with IPv6, a website or an online service can still be accessed using IPv4 without any loss of connectivity.
IPv6 Act Now
SMEs should make it a priority to adopt IPv6. By ensuring that all devices connected to the Internet are compatible with IPv6, SMEs can ensure they stay connected and safeguard the sustainable growth of their business.
A carefully planned and strategically executed implementation of IPv6 will be far less disruptive for an organisation than a last-minute, rushed roll-out.