I count on the public Internet to work in my day-to-day business dealings. If the public Internet stops working, so does my business. But who even owns the public Internet and who's doing what to make sure it keeps working? Is it really Al Gore?
So when I was recently invited to listen to a webinar about the implications of the pending "Internet switch to IPv6" I said to myself, "Huh, that sounds kind of important."
I'm glad I got the information. Ten minutes into the presentation I'm thinking to myself, "This seems like a pretty big deal and it might start affecting my business this year or next!"
Following is what I think I've learned about
What Business Owners Need to Know About How IPv6 Will Affect Their IT Costs
1. What's IPv6?
IPv6 refers the the new "IP" ("Internet protocol") naming convention for any piece of gear on the Internet (computers, routers, switches, smart phones, tablets, security cameras, etc.) that needs to be found by any other piece of gear. The older naming convention is IPv4.
Just as every telephone on the planet needs it's own telephone number to receive calls from other telephones, every piece of equipment on the Internet needs it's own IP address so other equipment can find it.
Currently, most every piece of equipment has an IPv4 IP address. "The people in charge" of handing our new IP addresses have informed "us" that they are pretty much completely out of IPv4 IP addresses.
Not to worry though because "they" have a whole bunch of the new IPv6 addresses.
3. Can't computer gear with a mix of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses find each other on the Internet?
Since I'm a business owner myself and not a computer geek I investigated the question by asking around among other business owners and by searching the Internet and came up with the following four answers, "Sure they can. Maybe they can. I don't know. Probably not."
From what I can tell, the switch from IPv4 to IPv6 in the Internet addressing world will be a lot like the change experienced by the business world 80 years ago when the public telephone system switched from operator connected calls, as in "Operator, connect me to PEnnsylvania 6-5000" to direct dialing as in, "Now what was that darned new long telephone phone number for the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City? Oh, yeah, 212-736-5000".
After a while, businesses that refused to buy a fancy new telephone system that could direct dial other businesses probably stopped doing business as there were no longer telephone operators around to connect their calls."
Who knows, maybe the year after next there will be a good reason to connect all your pencil sharpeners to the Internet. Well you won't be able to do that if the office pencil sharpeners you're buying today are not compatible with IPv6 addresing.
(Well maybe you could connect your old pencil sharpeners to the Internet two years from now but nothing else on the "new IPv6 Internet" would be able to find your stupid, old-fashioned pencil sharpeners.)
5. Inventory your business critical software applications
Are they running on IPv6 compatible equipment? Using myself as an example, I still maintain a few websites using Microsoft Frontpage, a "critical software" application for me that has been completely abandoned by Microsoft.
I keep dragging the software from one Windows operationg system to the next - each time experiencing just a little more trouble. I had a heck of a time getting it to work on Windows Vista and then 7.0. (Too bad you can't buy Windows XP computers anymore.)
6. Let us talk to you about migrating more of your IT to "the cloud"
I don't personally believe that IPv6 was invented only as a way to induce business owners to buy all new computer gear that's IPv6 compatible, but the seemingly inevitable migration to the "new Internet" appears to require the purchase of new gear.
As is appropriate prior to any new business expenditure, ask yourself, "Do I really want to be in the business of building, upgrading and maintaining my own "computing plant"? You use energy at your busines but you don't own and maintain a nuclear generator, right?
"The cloud" is working, ready to do business with your business, and is IPv6 compatible already.
7. But what if IPv6 is just a big conspiracy set upon us by the Democrats and the United Nations to take control of our minds and our freedoms?
As a recovering Democrat myself, the whole 1984 Orwellian nightware briefly flashed across my mind's eye when I thought about having an IPv6 address connecting everything I own to the Internet. (One guy I know actually covers the webcam on his laptop to keep President Obama from staring at him while he surfs the Internet.)
I'm sure all that's theoritically possible but I've got other, more pressing concerns at the moment like keeping the money coming in to pay for two kids in college.
If Mr. Obama or any of the other "jackbooted government thugs" (quote used without permission from Wayne LaPierre) the conspiracists would warn us about have nothing better to do than read my silly blogs as I write them, then we've all got much more to worry about then whether all the expensive computer gear we bought last year is IPv6 compatible.
8. Create an IPv6 audit & migration plan
In researching how big (or little) an iminent business problem this whole IPv6 thing is going to create for the average business owner, I ran across the IPv6 ACT NOW website at www.IPv6ActNow.org. It's a nice website in that it takes all the doom and gloom out of the issue and helps business owners and IT managers see that all that's really needed is a simple audit, a call to your Internet services providers and a migration plan.
Call us when you're ready to do this. We'll share with you how our other business clients are allaying their IPv6 worries and we can introduce you to the vendors and consultants we trust who can all but guarantee that your office computer network is "good to go" for IPv6.
What Do My Smarter Business Associates Think?
Peter Radizeski, President of RAD-INFO INC, put this whole IPv6 thing in my brain by inviting me to the IPv6 webinar I previously referenced so I invited him to submit a quote to the question, "What do business owners and their consultants need to be doing about migrating to IPv6 in the next 12 months and what are the consequences if they don't? Following is his answer.
“In the short term, 12 months, any new equipment being purchased should be IPv6 capable. PC’s, switches, IP phones, PBX, cell phones or any Internet-enabled device should be IPv6 capable so that you will not have to swap the gear out in the 3 year time frame that I see as when the pendulum will swing in the US to IPv6.”
Interesting IPv6 Articles & Links
In an effort to prove to myself that the IPv6 thing was more than an urban legend, I ran across the following links. Check them out and draw your own conclusions.
World IPv6 Day WikiPedia article
IPv6: Why Channel Partners Should Care June 2011
Google over IPv6 What Google says about IPv6 on their website
IPv6 ACT NOW A website published by a non-profit Internet organization
Hewlett-Packard on IPv6 What one of the world's biggest gear makers has to say
In Anticipation of IPv6: Prepare, Don't Panic What Internet service provider Level 3 suggests
Comcast offers IPv6 in Michigan August 2011
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