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Friday, March 18, 2011

Planning not panic is the key to IPv6 migration

By Nick Flaherty

Duncan Hughes, systems engineering manager at Brocade recommends a 6 Step Systematic approach to  issue of migrating from IPv4 to the new generation IPv6 addresses. With IPv4 addresses down to the last few blocks, many are asking whether fears that IPv6 is the ‘end of the Internet’ is nothing more than vendor induced hype, or if it is something network managers and CIOs need to take seriously.
Brocade argues that while IPv6 migration is a serious issue that needs action, it is not a reason to panic and that phased deployments can reduce both the financial and performance impact on the enterprise. It recommends a 6 Step approach to IPv6:

1. Don’t Panic, PrepareWhile there is no need for panic, IPv6 is something businesses need to start preparing for - and preparing for right now. Understand the impact on your business

2. Conduct an in-depth Audit of your networkThe question isn’t ‘are you IPv6 ready?’ but ‘WHERE are you IPv6 ready?’ IT companies have been offering IPv6-ready solutions for some time, and some applications and services are less likely to be impacted. Those that are customer facing and mission critical should be the priority.

3. Create a strict timeline, and stick to itIt will take a while before the number of IPv6 addresses issued generates a ‘tipping point’ - estimates suggest it will be another 12 months before the available IPv4 addresses completely run out. But as the number of Internet users continues to increase (up to 1.97 billion in 2010, a year on year increase of 14 percent), it won’t be long before IPv6 use grows to a level that creates problems.

4. Don’t try and do everything at once If a full network upgrade is under consideration, this is a good to time to clean-house. If not the best approach is one of incremental migration over time versus any ‘rip and replace proposition’ (a high cost and high risk approach)

5. Recognise that the network needs to support your business demands today, tomorrow and in the future for your business to succeedPlan your migration in a series of stages to reduce impact on business activities, and see it as part of a long-term network evolution. Build your IPv6 planning into product lifecycle replacement plans and don’t consider anything that isn’t compatible with IPv6 moving forward

6. Recognise that interim solutions can provide long-term ROIUsing transition technologies such as double stacks, will help manage the initial flow of IPv6 traffic, and don’t dismiss translation solutions. Upcoming new solutions mean you can run IPv6 and IPv4 without any noticeable time-lag. Diligently review the solutions available before taking action. There are dual-protocol point-solutions available that are specifically engineered to help organisations make the transition without the need for costly upgrades.
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