Part 4: Strategies for seamless migration

Verizon IPv6 services"...most companies will not be able to migrate by 2011 but they will have capability to actually develop an IPv6 compliant component"- Waliur Rahman, Verizon Professional Services

One thing that Blue Coat, Hurricane Electric and Verizon experts all agree on is that most enterprises and service providers will not be able to migrate completely off of IPv4 by the end of 2011; instead, the transition will happen in phases. Dual coexistence--which includes IPv4/IPv6 dual stack technologies--is the trend this year.

"In a nutshell, most companies will not be able to migrate by 2011 but they will have capability to actually develop an IPv6 compliant component where they could actually talk to the IPv6 compliant environment, with IPv6 type content and partners and so on, and also have the growth part of their network or public facing part of their network available to support that," says Verizon's Rahman.

Hurricane Electric's DeLong agrees that a company's public-facing systems should be at the top of the migration list.

"The first people that are going to be impacted by this are actually the residential end users. They're the ones who pay the least for their internet service, so they're going to be the ones that the ISP is least motivated to preserve address space for in the v4 route," DeLong says. "So (the industry is) going to start seeing solutions like carrier level network address translation, solutions like IPv6 only services with a NAT64 gateway provided by the carrier and other solutions like that, which will allow them to reach v4 websites but at a very degraded level from what they're used to.

"The good news is that usually their website and their email services, the public facing stuff, is usually the fastest, easiest and cheapest stuff to upgrade, and that's the only part that has real urgency at this time."

"One thing is to have their public facing services and content migrated to dual stack, because we're not recommending that anybody migrate to v6 only at this point" - Owen DeLong

With a temporary end user solution patched in, what's the next step in transition?

"One thing is to have their public facing services and content migrated to dual stack, because we're not recommending that anybody migrate to v6 only at this point," says DeLong. "But once an enterprise has their public facing content and services migrated to dual stack, then the next target for migration probably will be the various organizations in the enterprise that provide the support for those services and content: the webmasters, the mail administrators, the IT department itself."

Verizon's professional services program follows a similar route, with three service components that include an impact assessment and analysis, transition planning, and implementation.

"This is a physical and logical implementation," says Rahman. "When I say physical, it means back stack wiring, and logical means configuring the different devices, the different components, adding, configuring and connecting all the different aspects of their IT. Part of that phase we also provide a lot of training, material and develop training components and train their IT and operations folks for a smooth transition. We even would come back and fine tune the environment, making sure that all the applications are working the way they're supposed to be and that they are taking advantage of this IPv6 service. "

Blue Coat's Li is confident that once service providers and enterprises are on the road to IPv6 with some type of dual coexistence solution in place, they'll want to go the rest of the way. "2011 is going to be the year, in our view, that people are actually going to deploy IPv6 in limited fashion, and once they go past that six-month trial period they may just go 75 percent throughout the organization."

"...we have not only service providers talking about IPv6 migration, they're beginning to push out services, real tangible services, toward the consumer end." - Qing Li, Blue Coat

Service providers are already taking big steps, Li says. "...we have not only service providers talking about IPv6 migration, they're beginning to push out services, real tangible services, toward the consumer end. Some examples are Netflix, which is now offering video streaming service to its subscribers if that subscriber is on IPv6. You have Google search services offered over IPv6, you have YouTube capable of doing IPv6, and you also have Comcast rolling out consumer based IPv6 access services."

Still, a large number of enterprises and service providers are unprepared for an adjustment of this scale. "I think it's going to be traumatic," DeLong says frankly. "ARIN has explained this to people for more than a decade. They've really done a lot of outreach and a lot of effort to educate people on IPv6, and unfortunately because it doesn't fit well into soundbites it hasn't gotten the kind of attention it really needs. It's not as catchy as Y2K."

Selling IPv6 migration to company leadership has been a real challenge for IT managers, he says. "There's nothing particularly sexy about IPv6, it doesn't offer a great new model for increased revenue, it's every bit as interesting as insurance and pretty much for the same reason. It's all about being able to continue your business on the internet after IPv4 runs out and unfortunately there's just no way around it. That's where we are."

Part 4: Strategies for seamless migration
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