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The protocol that cried wolf

As we inch ever closer to IPv4 depletion and possible network chaos, the networking community as a whole seems to sitting back and watching with a simple smirk. Sure, there are pockets of activity; announcements from ARIN, presentations at policy conventions and the ramblings of blogs such as this. But one would be hard-pressed to say that any more than about one or two percent of the community is taking note…​which is probably about the current percentage of IPv6 deployment.

To confirm my belief I asked some random CLECs, ILECs and ISPs at a recent trade show where they were with IPv6 and how soon they thought general deployment would occur. Every one reacted basically the same way:

  1. Somebody within their organization is looking into it at a high level, but nobody’s expecting deployment anytime soon.

  2. They don’t believe demand will be coming anytime soon. Many of the people I talked to mentioned that everybody has been saying for the last decade that IPv6 was coming in 2-3 years. Since it still hasn’t happened they aren’t too concerned that they will get behind the eight ball.

  3. No customers are asking for it yet and, other than a few test sites, no real content is accessible via IPv6.

The vendors and distributors at this trade show echoed similar sentiments: fringe elements of the community have been pushing IPv6 and asking for us to support it, but our manpower is better spent producing products and features that customers need today.

While that is a valid business outlook, it doesn’t bode well for the Internet as a whole if the address squeeze really happens. While these vendors may be able to push out an IPv6 version of their products before addresses dry up in a couple years, I would feel a lot better if the software/hardware had a few years and release cycles under its belt before we become dependent on it in production.

I’m not sure I can really blame any of these vendors and carriers either. Industry leaders and speculators have been predicting IPv4 depletion for years and it hasn’t happened at the rates they predicted. This isn’t the fault of the predictors however, I believe the ebb and flow of the world economy has allowed the current pool to stretch much further most insiders thought possible.

Unfortunately, all these years of crying wolf may have really hurt our chances of a smooth, albeit delayed, transition to IPv6.

tags: IPv6
Cody Lerum - May 10, 2009
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