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IPv6 pushes IT off the edge

IPv6 pushes IT off the edge

Blue Coat senior architect, Qing Li, says IT managers need a nudge to get IPv6 going

IT managers and staff need to be pushed off the edge into the IPv6 pool in order to encourage migration to the new address protocol, Blue Coat senior architect, Qing Li, has warned.

A lack of business drivers, enabling technologies, and pure fear around the security implications of the new protocol have so far crippled IT managers, according to Li.

“It took them years to perfect the IPv4 art, security infrastructure, and the challenges of Web 2.0 around dynamic content,” he told Computerworld Australia.

“Now you introduce IPv6 into this complex security equation, when they have little knowledge of IPv6, not enough operational experience and fears if they do IPv6 it’s going to open up holes in security infrastructure and they’ll potentially lose their jobs.”

Instead, Li said IT staff required a push to enter the migration process sooner rather than later.

“If you start to provide the foundation or platform and people begin to try it out, they start getting an operational experience. The more they operate in IPv6, the more comfortable they get and the more they want to try new things.

“The later you get hands-on, you’re only going to increase anxiety about the anticipation of doing something.”

Li’s comments come as Internode chief information officer, Frank Falco, this week urged IT managers to enter “crunch time” in procuring and implementing IPv6 migration. However, Li, who last month attended the Internet Society of Australia’s IPv6 Summit 2010 in Melbourne, said the conversation needed to move away from address exhaustion.

“The same debate is taking place everywhere else, so it’s not unique in Australia,” he said. “This debate was in Japan about 14 months ago, and now it’s carried into the Australian market.

“In reality, next year, even though we’re going to be running out of assignments, organisations will still have IPv4 addresses for two or three years, even longer than that.”

While address exhaustion remains an issue to be considered, focus should instead rely on adoption out of choice rather than fear to combat a widening gap between use of the protocols.

Li said IT managers needed to prioritise security infrastructure first in considering IPv6, as well as the implications of migration, and the enabling features the new protocol could provide.

Not all new features would be beneficial - the new privacy extensions, for example, are unlikely to encourage businesses to adopt IPv6 in a secure environment - but early prioritisation and adoption would likely ease the process over the next three to four years.

“Until then we’re going to be talking about the same thing every year: address exhaustion, please migrate now,” Li said.

“Give them a good foundation in a secure sandbox and let them play in it.”

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