Network operators need to upgrade their routing, edge, security, network management, analytics and other systems in order to support both IPv4 and IPv6 in what's called dual-stack mode. The alternative is for network operators to translate between IPv4 and IPv6, but that adds latency and overhead cost.
"The Internet content industry wants quality access to the users, with high bandwidth, low latency, low jitter and with consistent network information," said John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which doles out IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to North American network operators. "Connectivity via [network address translation] doesn't cut it... The content industry is well aware of what it takes to deliver quality content, and it isn't IPv4. It's IPv6."
IPv6 proponents have floated many potential killer apps over the years besides the inevitable exhaustion of IPv4 address space.
Then in 2006, when the cable industry added IPv6 to its DOCSIS 3.0 standard, it appeared that cable operators such as Comcast and Time Warner would be the early adopters of IPv6.
Other ideas that have been promoted as IP address hogs and IPv6 enablers over the years include video streaming, online gaming and cloud computing.
As recently as 2009, prognosticators anticipated that the Internet of Things - including sensors and actuators - would drive IPv6 deployment through such applications as the electricity industry's Smart Grid project.
Now it appears that business continuity is the idea that's resonating with enterprise buyers of IPv6 products. By using this term, network vendors are highlighting the fact that ISPs and enterprises must upgrade to IPv6 in order to keep their online operations - Web sites, email and other externally-facing Web services - accessible to the small-but-growing number of Internet users assigned IPv6 addresses by their carriers.