IPv6 survey shows vital messages not getting through

CIOs slow to adopt new internet protocol

By Stephen Bell, Computerworld New Zealand |  Internet, IPv6

CIOs view the IPv6 deployment as a cost, rather than a business benefit, and are dragging their feet when it comes to adopting the new internet protocol.

That's according to a recent survey carried out by the IPv6 taskforce -- a special-purpose cross-industry group, supported by the Ministry of Economic Development and InternetNZ to encourage and steer IPv6 adoption. Of the 100 CIOs sent surveys, 46 responded.

[ Going to IPv6 isn't going to be easy ]

The IPv6 deployment will become critical as the existing pool of IPv4 addresses runs dry -- with some experts predicting this could occur as early as December this year.

InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar says the protocol and addressing scheme for the internet will be an opportunity for businesses to make use of new technologies but the recent survey shows that message is not getting through and they still see IPv6 adoption primarily as a cost.

"New mobile networks, security systems and applications we haven't even thought of yet will utilise IPv6," Kumar says. "Mass applications of direct machine-to-machine communication also become practical - the incoming 'Internet of Things'," he adds.

Unless the business advantage of early IPv6 adoption are understood, Kumar says, business managers will not see a near-term need for the change and it will not be driven from the top.

Asked "what would help speed up your IPv6 deployment?" CIOs identified "a business driver or benefit" or "new public-facing business or service opportunities" as among the leading factors.

The recent survey is the second to be undertaken and hence provides some useful comparison with the parallel survey done last year.

Many more CIOs now feel they are adequately or "very well" informed about IPv6 (74% of respondents, compared with 54% in 2009).

This year, 91% of the CIOs say they are aware that old-style IPv4 addresses are running out, up from 70% last year; but again this is only part of the message that needs to get through, says taskforce technical lead Dean Pemberton. Seeing it as a problem of address exhaustion, he says "it is tempting for business managers to dismiss their need for IPv6 by stating that they will not require any more IP addresses in the near future.

"However, they may run the risk of not being able to communicate effectively with partners or potential customers who have chosen to make IPv6 their preferred method of communication," Pemberton says. "Adopting IPv6 is as much about ensuring that you can continue to communicate with everyone on the internet as it is about requiring additional internet addresses."

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