With IPv6 World Launch coming up it’s worth pausing to consider the collective efforts of the Internet industry in enabling and deploying an essential evolutionary technology at what will become truly massive scale. It’s easy to be a detractor and believe there has been little progress – but the Internet hasn’t melted down and there is no evidence it is about to. Perhaps the issue is that progress occurred in a different way than was predicted or preferred by the experts. The reality is providers everywhere have developed coping mechanisms for IPv4 exhaustion. Innovation, operational sweat, and perhaps some tough negotiating make it happen. But isn’t that the essence of the Internet?
Thought leaders across the industry are focusing on transition topics that matter: from economic lifecycles, security, and business continuity to the promising future of the Internet of Things. This is what drives most of us, and those on the front lines in the IPv6 evolution have every right to rise up and celebrate. It’s not only a great technological milestone, but a testament to their collective abilities to work together for the greater good of the connected planet.
Today’s Internet is the foundation for everything we do and the IPv6 Internet will be too but unfortunately some things never change. While the majority have been busy working on IPv6 for the greater good, evidence makes clear we’re likely to come face to face with a growing number of technologists (aka criminals) with malicious intentions. IPv6 hinders them in some ways, but helps them in others. If you have any doubts, a quick search will show a growing number of software tools intended to break or exploit IPv6. Everything we build offers potential for those who are malicious to use their skills for disruption. Security is a continuum and experience suggests it might be worth some cycles to make sure your IPv6 project does not end up on your CEO’s shortlist of things that keep them up at night.
Preparing for the transition requires looking beyond just software support and interoperability testing to identifying strategic partners and understanding the long-term cost of ownership. If IPv6 is important to your future you owe it to your business, investors and customers to make sure you have the best technology but are also on the right path with the best, forward looking partners. It’s refreshing to see that on the Internet, as has always been the case, a global initiative can transcend the boundaries of political, social, and economic agendas. Maybe we can all even learn a lesson or two from IPv6 on how to tackle some of the critical long-term social and economic challenges facing the world today.