By Carl Weinschenk
With Jim Bound, the chairman of the North American IPv6 task force and an HP Fellow. Recently, an important test of the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was successfully completed. It featured a link between California and North Carolina that operated at high speed through normal network gear and maintained quality of service (QoS). Bound spoke only as a member of the IPv6 group.
This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Optimizing Infrastructure. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit www.itbusinessedge.com.
Question: We've been hearing about IPv6 for years. Is it finally happening?
Bound: It definitely is happening, but it's happening in the sense of early adopters, test beds, and network pilots. The telecommunications industry, Internet providers, government, and some industries have begun to look at IPv6 and set up pilots and things like that.
Question: That seems fairly preliminary. What should IT folks who don't specialize in this be aware of?
Bound: They should be aware that it is the next-generation Internet protocol that will permeate the planet. It also is going to permit mobile computing and the ability to address a vast number of devices. To the enterprise, the impact will vary: Is it a manufacturing entity? Is it a financial entity? [IPv6] will have impact on everything and everybody....I think that what's important for the average person to understand about IPv6 is that it provides the restoration of end-to-end and peer-to-peer computing, which we don't have today with the current Internet because of network address translation. NAT is not a security mechanism. It's a method of making everyone's address private.
Question: Will the emergence of IPv6 mean that enterprises will have to adjust or even change out equipment?
Bound: In most cases the devices should accommodate IPv6 with a software upgrade that is not going to cost anything. If that device is hard-coded on an embedded system with an ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] or another form of electronic processor, then clearly there has to be a replacement. Fortunately, those situations are few and far between.