Every device that connects to the Internet needs an Internet Protocol (IP) address, and for a very long time that was achieved via IPv4 addresses. IPv4 was designed a long time ago, with about four billion address spaces available.
With millions of new devices connected to the internet being used by people every year, we’ve almost run out of IPv4 address space. But the new standard, IPv6, is being deployed. IPv6 has trillions of addresses, and guarantees the growth of the Internet for many years to come.
What does this mean for you and your business?
IPv4 and IPv6 are not directly compatible – that means a site available on only IPv4 cannot be seen by people using IPv6, and vice versa. As the world transitions to IPv6, businesses need to ensure they’re still reaching the maximum number of people. Dual-stacking (the process of running both IPv4 and IPv6 concurrently) will be important over the next few years.
Most businesses rely on an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for a connection to the Internet. Your own network’s IPv6 requirements and deployment schedule will likely depend upon your provider’s IPv6 readiness. For that reason, it is important that you understand what your ISP can provide and when, so that you won’t miss out on any website traffic.
Five questions you should ask your service provider:
- Do you currently provide IPv6 connectivity?
- If not, when do you plan to deploy IPv6 on your customer networks?
- When will my website be available over IPv6?
- Do you provide customers with IPv6-compatible hardware?
- What IPv6 training, services and support can you provide me with?
In the event that your ISP is not prepared to meet your business needs, you may need to select a different provider. Fortunately, the process does not have to be overly complicated. The following checklist is a rough outline of the key steps to take in the early stages of planning.
- Create a shortlist of prospective ISPs and ask them about IPv6;
- Identify your needs, whether upgrading your own network components or asking for training;
- Determine the costs of new hardware and software, and their longevity; and
- Draft a project plan and start putting it into action.
Planning for IPv6 does not have to be a stressful and time-consuming process. By getting a few questions answered you can begin preparing your organisation for the internet of the future.
Axel Pawlik is the managing director of the RIPE Network Coordination Centre.
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