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Silvia Hagen: It’s Not About IPv6 Transition But Urgent Integration

As the IPv4 address pool is rapidly reaching exhaustion, Silvia Hagen, a leading expert on IPv6 and the author of O’Reilly’s book, “IPv6 Essentials,” stresses that a primary step towards IPv6 address space is not about “transition” but “integration”.

IPv4 and IPv6 are going to co-exist for many years to come and so what companies need to do, in the first place, is to look at their IPv4 landscape and identify areas of priority, Hagen said in a recent interview with CircleID. “And also they need to identify spots where it is very complex to integrate IPv6 and make sure they have enough time for planning and integration,” she said. “It’s about learning to manage our future dual stack network.”

Hagen, who is the president of the Swiss IPv6 Council and has recently joined BlueCat Networks’ Technical Advisory Board, believes the value of IPv6 is about connectivity and the continuation of the Internet. Countries in Asia such as Japan, South Korea and China, already have a strong head start in IPv6 due to their greater IPv4 depletion rate and so Hagen believes IPv6 integration is simply a matter of remaining accessible to an increasing number of IPv6 users.

So why do so many companies, particularly at the management level, still remain undecided when it comes to IPv6 integration. Hagen finds that reasons mainly fall into two classic categories: Lack of practical understanding about IPv6 and the incorrect assumption that there is no urgent business case for IPv6. Hagen says that IPv6 is a matter of upgrading a critical infrastructure within all organizations and a simple 3 to 5 year analysis makes it very clear that the time to do it is now.

Related Links:
Silvia Hagen Joins BlueCat Networks’ Technical Advisory Board
Silvia Hagen, CEO of Sunny Connection AG in Switzerland
IPv6 Resource by Team ARIN - a public service by ARIN, the American Registry for Internet Numbers

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Lack of Urgent Business Case to Major ISPs Peter Thimmesch  –  Sep 14, 2010 6:19 AM

Would truly like for Ms. Hagen to please provide in concise cogent points what the true economic business case is for established very large Internet Service Providers (ISP) who hold enormous “legacy” IPv4 number resource inventories.

In multiple ongoing discussions with the largest ISPs in the US, none have found a compelling business case to undergo the expense and hassle of either transition or integration. While she is an expert at IPv6, she has not considered the point of view of these very important players. If none of the largest ISPs transition, then is v6 dead?

A compelling business case Michael Dillon  –  Sep 14, 2010 8:15 PM

There has been a compelling business case for a long time. If an ISP wants to keep on growing their network after IPv4 exhaustion, they must deploy IPv6 and integrate the IPv6 network with the IPv4 network. Otherwise, they cannot grow their networks. How is a CFO going to explain to shareholders that they "forgot" to deploy the one technology that would ensure continued growth? Very soon you will see some large providers with publicly traded shares suffering from big drops in share prices when investors learn that those companies are not ready with IPv6 services to continue their growth in 2011 and beyond. It is a question of competition. When the IPv4 supply dries up there will be a lot of small and midsize providers (and some large ones) ready with IPv6 services. Those who cannot meet the competitors offers will lose out on contract renewals and may even suffer from senior heads rolling because their RFP responses assured customers that IPv6 was in progress, even when that was a lie. Either they knew that they were lying or they had such poor control of the business that they didn't know middle management was lying to them. This kind of thing will impact a number of the large providers in several different countries. It is not a regional issue, but a problem with too many managers drinking the koolaid and believing that IPv6 has no clear business case.

A contrary business case The Famous Brett Watson  –  Sep 15, 2010 12:51 AM

If an ISP wants to keep on growing their network after IPv4 exhaustion, they must deploy IPv6 and integrate the IPv6 network with the IPv4 network.
As an alternative, they can deploy as much RFC 1918 private IPv4 space as they please, and integrate that with the IPv4 network. Given that they already have immense amounts of IPv4 expertise and equipment on board, this is the path of least resistance. Oh, but that's NAT. That's not end-to-end. That's second class Internet. These are the usual objections which arise when this rather obvious approach is mentioned, so let me address them up front. Anyone who is allocated only an IPv6 address has end-to-end access to that portion of the Internet which is already IPv6 enabled, but the slowness of IPv6 adoption makes this feature rather ho-hum at the moment. To access the IPv4 Internet, they need to go through NAT, just as they would on an RFC 1918 address. In short, therefore, the benefits of IPv6 over NAT are fairly slim at the moment. In the long term, sure, it makes sense to be a late adopter. In the short term, however, it's cheaper and easier (for ISPs, specifically) to solve the address shortage problem with IPv4 NAT. I don't see a compelling business case here. In fact, I see a business case for delay. Who knows -- maybe that's why there's so much delaying going on.

There is a Business Case, and it is Urgent Kevin Karp  –  Sep 15, 2010 4:36 AM

Regardless of the IPv4 number resources held by the big American ISPs if their growth markets are all forced to implement IPv6 (think China and India especially LTE 4G mobile phone users) then they need to address the IPv6 marketplace. Of course they can make the business decision to ignore those emerging growth markets in which case they are saying good-bye to their future (you'll note of course that large firms that are choosing NOT to ignore IPv6 and those emerging markets include the likes of Google). The urgency comes from the fact that to prepare for the market 18 months from today requires action to be taken now. If owners of IPv4 web sites do decide to look after their futures then there are quick and easy facilities such as Instant6 that make them visible to those new markets quickly, and cheaply (read free). To receive emails from those new users Instant6 charge a small fee.

You are forgetting Comcast! McTim  –  Sep 15, 2010 5:23 AM


Wishful thinking Silvia Hagen  –  Sep 15, 2010 1:41 PM

While I clearly understand that there are large investments in IPv4 legacy resources, I do not think it makes sense to ask the question for the business case from this perspective. Evolution has never asked for a business case, it simply happens. Nobody can truly predict it, and even less control it. The Internet is a global co-creation which simply emerged as an expression of the collective, with no need for a business plan or a business case. Although there have been repeated attempts, nobody can own or really control the Internet. IPv6 is about the continuation of the Internet and about global connectivity. It is an evolutionary step in the Internet. And, while I certainly agree that IPv4 investments should be preserved as long as possible – and am definitely not advocating anybody tear down all IPv4 infrastructures and replace them with IPv6 – with the current Internet growth rate, and the impending exhaustion of the IPv4 address pool, it is clear that the number of IPv6-only Internet users will soon grow to a significant number that cannot be ignored. As a result, the integration of IPv6 for service and content providers will soon be more than maintaining connectivity, customers and markets – it will be fundamental to remaining in business. As Jim Bound used to say, "The cost of not doing IPv6 is great." So, I believe the business case question for large providers will be: How can I preserve my IPv4 investment for as long as possible and additionally offer IPv6 services as needed with the least risk and cost? Whoever refuses to integrate IPv6, will in the long term simply not be part of the whole Internet. In my opinion, the idea that a number of large providers not integrating IPv6 could stop evolution is just wishful thinking. I prefer to see the integration of IPv6 as an opportunity, rather than a painful and unnecessary cost. We always had cost for maintaining a state of the art network, it's been part of our budgets since we have networks. Now, at this point in time this includes the integration of IPv6. Enjoy the ride, Silvia

Making it to the Board level is the big concern Ram Mohan  –  Sep 30, 2010 11:13 AM

Getting this to permeate at the Board level is the big concern - it can’t stay forever in the operational, technical depths.

-Ram Mohan
EVP, Afilias

IPv6 in the board room Silvia Hagen  –  Sep 30, 2010 2:46 PM

Hi Ram

Yes, you are right. But there have always been foresighted managers and others, managers that know how to do math and others. But don’t be concerned, if you’re ready, your customers will come rather sooner than later.

To speak for Europe, things have changed a lot recently. For instance I was speaking at a manager event for one of the large European insurance groups. There were about 15 people in the room all IT managers of the major European countries. And their questions were not “should we do IPv6”, their questions were “can you please tell us how to go about it”. That’s different than from a year ago. And they are not the only ones. I also spoke with an IT manager of an online-bank, asking him, what their plans for integration of IPv6 were. His answer was, “we are working on concepts, address and integration plans, because we know that we will loose markets and customers soon if we don’t do it.”

So, it will just happen, there is no way around IPv6, for no one.

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