June 6, 2012 is a big day in the history of Information Technology. On this day, approximately 1% of Internet traffic will leverage IPv6. We've all heard of the end of days for IPv4 and wondered if large auctions of private address spaces would be a new gold rush; but IPv6 is the solution we'll have for the foreseeable future and that's a good thing. I've collected a few tips to deal with IPv6 for IT pros to increase the awareness of IPv6.
#1 Don't do it if you don't know it
First of all, don't mess with IPv6 in a production capacity unless you know what you are doing. If you want to learn IPv6, great! (Please be sure to write blogs about your experience along the way.) But this is the keystone example of where consult funds make sense. Find someone who does know IPv6. Further, it will probably be on Internet connectivity first; and only then with new equipment or lines.
#2 Internal address spaces will likely remain unchanged. Forever.This is the silver lining here; we'll likely be able to maintain our private address spaces for the foreseeable future with technologies that broker our Internet connectivity correctly to the mixed IPv4 and IPv6 Internet. This means our private network investments and configuration can go largely unchanged. Changing all internal addressing schemes is complicated enough; the thought of changing all workstations, servers, printers and network infrastructure to IPv6 doesn't appeal to me at all. The only exception would be if an internal address space is becoming exhausted (unlikely), conflicts with an Internet IP range (time to correct that 10 year old error!), or the internal IP space is just totally whacked (you know who you are).
#3 Invest in your Internet presence equipment first
This is the area where you will need IPv6 investments. This is the equipment that may deal with an IPv6-only configuration as well as broker connectivity to IPv4 resources on the Internet. Chances are June 6 will be a non-event for everything you have running today. But when the time comes that you add a new Internet connection or set up a new location, IPv6 may become your newest "opportunity" in your IT experience. When that time comes, be sure to do it right the first time.
#4 Security doesn't go away
In fact, it's more complicated. You need to ensure that the security aspects of IPv6 are addressed to your requirements. This includes both Internal LANs and Internet presences. To the point above, don't do something where you tell yourself you'll "clean it up later". That's the type of decision that leads to a resume-generating-event later on.
#5 Start testing!
There are quite a number of Internet resources that will tell you how your connection and applications are to perform in an IPv6 world. This is especially critical the moment you receive an IPv6 Internet address. This will likely happen first with a residential connection, as many broadband carriers have started to issue equipment to home subscribers that are IPv6-ready. One way to test that connectivity from the comfort of your web browser is the Test-IPv6.com website. It will tell you how the Internet connection and experience through the browser will perform.One change, many things need consideration
The key takeaway on IPv6 is when the time comes for you, go about it correctly. Don't set yourself up for failure from the beginning. Find the resources you need and ensure you are equipped for success. Have you started on the IPv6 journey? What tips can you share so that other IT Pros can learn from what you have been through thus far? Please, share your comments below.
Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.