September 07, 2010, 9:30 AM — Interest in IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, is exploding among U.S. CIOs, as news of the rapid depletion of IP addresses using the current standard - known as IPv4 - reaches corporate IT departments.
Verizon Business says its largest corporate customers are flooding the carrier with questions about IPv6 and how it will impact their networks.
"We are receiving close to five or six times more questions and queries from our customers about IPv6 today vs. a year ago," says William Schmidlapp, senior consultant for product marketing at Verizon Business. "The majority of questions we are getting are from North American companies...Our inquiries have been across all verticals."
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices: 2 to the 128th power.
Around 94.5% of IPv4 address space has been allocated as of Sept. 3, 2010, according to the American Registry for Internet Numbers, which delegates blocks of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to service providers and other network operators in North America. Experts say the remaining IPv4 addresses could be depleted as early as December.
CIOs are asking Verizon Business about how to maintain end-to-end connectivity across the Internet as some users upgrade to IPv6 and others remain on IPv4. They also are concerned about the latest mobile devices - such as Verizon's own LTE handsets - which must support IPv6. And they're asking how to ensure that their primary applications - whether commercial or home-grown - will support IPv6 traffic.
"The increased press...about IPv4 exhaustion is now hitting CIOs' desks, and CIOs are asking their IT departments and their infrastructure partners about how this will affect the business," Schmidlapp says. "This has really garnered a lot of conversations from our customers."