Important internet change - you need to prepare - Business Works
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Important internet change - you need to prepare

Axel Pawlik, MD of RIPE NCC OK this is a bit 'techie', but it is important, so it's worth a few minutes to understand the changes - it will affect you if you use the internet!

In today’s technology-driven environment, it is fair to assume that a large proportion of businesses rely on the internet. Until now, the internet has been built largely on the IPv4 protocol of IP addresses - you have probably met them - they look something like this: Every 'host' or 'computer' on the internet has a unique address and because they are made up of four 'groups', this means that there is a finite pool that contains around four billion unique IP addresses. However, the number of internet-enabled devices already surpasses the population of the planet (seven billion) and analysts predict there could be as many as 15 billion devices online by 2015.

The direct impact of this rapid growth is the depletion of available IPv4 addresses. Indeed, the RIPE NCC, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East is expected to distribute the last of the unallocated IPv4 addresses in its available pool soon.

To make sure your business remains connected to internet you will need to ensure that you are IPv6-ready.

What is IPv6?

IPv6 is the next generation of IP addressing that will replace IPv4. It uses eight 'groups' and so allows for a lot more addresses (roughly 340 trillion trillion trillion in total) and guarantees the continued expansion of the internet. Unfortunately, however, IPv6 is not backwards compatible with IPv4. This means that IPv6 must be universally adopted or connectivity problems will ensue.

Devices can be assigned both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, allowing them to communicate via either protocol (this is called dual-stacking). While major IT hardware and software suppliers have been supplying IPv6-ready equipment for some time, older routers and firewalls may not be able to access IPv6 websites. This will start to become a problem as IPv6 websites become more commonplace after World IPv6 Launch on 6 June 2012. Sooner or later, parts of the Internet and businesses will need to switch to IPv6.

So, what do businesses need to do?

To ensure that your business is not adversely affected, you should start by making sure you have answers to these questions:

  • Are you and your IT staff aware of IPv6?
  • Is your Internet Service Provider ready to provide IPv6 connectivity?
  • Is your own network equipment IPv6 compatible, and if not, what steps are necessary to make it IPv6 compatible?
  • Have you considered IPv6-readiness in your technology upgrade cycle?

Based on the answers to these questions, you will be able to plan the steps you need to take to ensure that IPv6 adoption doesn’t see your business left behind.

The first step is to assess where you are in relation to IPv6. Your Internet Service Provider may already offer IPv6 connectivity, you may already be operating hardware and software that is compatible with IPv6, and using IPv6 may be as simple as flipping a switch. It is more likely though, that deploying IPv6 will involve at least some investment of time and resources.

An essential part of making your business IPv6 ready is to ensure that your equipment is compatible with the next generation of IP addressing. The first step is to carry out an IT audit to identify which pieces of equipment (routers, servers and other hardware) need upgrading or even replacing.

In order for your entire network to be IPv6 ready you need to ensure that all hardware and software is dual stacked. If you have purchased software from a third party you’ll need to get in touch with the provider to check if the product is already IPv6 compatible or if there is an upgrade available. A great deal of software already on the market (including many computer operating systems, though not Windows XP) is IPv6-ready by default.

IPv6 - act now

Businesses need to adopt IPv6 early to remain competitive or face the challenge of working through blank screens.

For many years, the RIPE NCC has worked with businesses to spread the message of IPv6 deployment. Training and education are paramount. Moreover, IPv6 deployment cannot wait, the time to deploy is now.

For further information on how businesses can prepare for the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, please visit:

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