It’s IPv6 Day: Are You Ready for an Upgrade?
A few times in the past we’ve covered the IPv4 to IPv6 transition, but it’s often received little to no fanfare as IT admins, geeks and techies are seemly the only ones who really care. But you, John Q. VAR, should, even just a little. That’s why Wednesday June 8, 2011, is IPv6 Day, and there are quite a few big-name companies that are jumping on board to get the word out. The Internet is evolving, have you heard? Networking VARs really don’t want to be left behind on this one …
First, what is IPv6? Real simple, it’s a new way of assigning a unique identifier to a computer on the Internet. TCP/IP with IPv4 has a finite set of numbers, and we’ve hit that limit, with the last number assigned in April 2011. IPv6 now assigns numbers and letters in a different way, thus increasing the amount of unique devices allowable on the Internet. Hooray. Only problem is, not all devices and software are equipped to handle this new number assignment.
You could probably guess a handful of the big-name companies involved, but I’ll give you a short list here: Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Cisco and a whole slew of other companies and service providers will join together today and flick the switch over to IPv6 for a grand test to see how prepared users are for the inevitable shift. The test run is also to help spread awareness about the switch, so when the time comes and it’s permanent, no one will be left in the dust with an incompatible device or piece of software. The Internet Society has a list of ways users including website and network operators can be tested to ensure they’re IPv6 ready — and users at home can simply use an online test to find out.
For better or for worse, you’ll likely not notice a thing. In fact, Google’s own blog about IPv6 says that will very much be the case, especially if users of Chrome or a multitude of other modern hardware. Google sums it up best, so I’m quoting them here:
The vast majority (99.95%) of people will be able to access services without interruption: either they’ll connect over IPv6, or their systems will successfully fall back to IPv4. However … [we] estimate that .05% of systems may fail to fall back to IPv4, so some people may find Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing and other participating websites slow or unresponsive on World IPv6 Day.
Google said the culprit of any failures likely will be home networking equipment that isn’t quite ready for IPv6. Chances are it’s time to update that old wireless router of yours if you haven’t already. For the channel, it’s an opportunity to add value to existing customers and spread awareness. Wear your IPv6 badge of honor as mark of differentiation. Upgraded services and hardware are bound to be needed in some shape or form, and the channel will definitely be integral to the IPv6 transition.