IPv6 deployment will occur as a whisper, not as a bang

IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol which is rapidly becoming this generation’s Internet Protocol.

IPv6 isn’t officially deployed in many places. However, unofficially it is deployed in most of today’s network environments.

At the command prompt of practically every current Linux, UNIX (including MacOS 10.4) and Windows (Vista) operating system, try the following in almost any office network and prepare to be surprised: ping “ff02::1” or “ping6 ff02::1.” Every IPv6-enabled network device in the office network will respond to this ping unless explicitly blocked by the network administrator (As defined by IETF RFC4291, ff02::1 is the IPv6 all nodes IPv6 address, which all nodes must respond to).

Although the network administrator may know nothing about IPv6, IPv6 is pervasive in most office networks.

Much of the controversy regarding IPv6 is a matter of policy. Meanwhile operating system designers have been silently enabling IPv6 by default. IPv6 is becoming an effective network protocol within Ethernet “broadcast” domains, even if network administrators haven’t configured its use across Ethernet domains and campus networks.

Because there is little fundamental difference between IPv4 and IPv6, the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 could occur as a whisper, not as a bang. Gradually network administrators will learn how to use IPv6 in their networks and will find transitioning to IPv6 less difficult or problematic as they originally feared.

IPv6 is not fully cooked. But neither is IPv4. Within 3-5 years it will be apparent that IPv4 can no longer support the needs of the global Internet community. It will also be apparent that a wholesale replacement to the Internet Protocol will take decades to design and implement. IPv6 will be the only viable protocol to support the ballooning global network infrastructure. IPv6 must happen.

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