When discussing IPv6, it is easy to forget that we are ultimately talking about an enhanced version of an existing network protocol. Sure, it brings about a number of technical advantages. But when viewed in isolation — without a business case — there really are not that many drivers that would place IPv6 on the agenda of the top decision makers looking after budgets. For IPv6 to gain serious momentum, this has to be changed.
As IPv4 started getting traction during the 90s, there probably were not many organizations out there that were dying to make an investment in IPv4. Rather, the compelling business case they saw related to the Internet, for which IPv4 was the enabler. Twenty or so years down the road, I find it hard to believe that the decision making process in itself would have changed dramatically. Without a powerful trend providing support, the IPv6 train will remain stuck at the station.
A case in point is the service providers in the emerging economies. In our experience, the reason they have been actively experimenting with IPv6 isn't related to technological advantages. Rather, the problem these entities are tackling with IPv6 relates to the amount of available IPv4 space they have at their disposal, and its disparity with the addressable market they are looking at. If the market potential you are looking at is hundreds of millions of subscribers, yet your organization is stuck with a couple of class B networks, you have no choice but to embrace IPv6 if it is to grow to its full potential.
In the more mature industrialized countries, a driver like this does not exist, at least not in the short to mid-term future. Sure, the number of IP devices is on the rise. Yet with stagnating subscriber base, aging population and the proportionally large address spaces that were allocated to these organizations back in the day, it is not as if shortage of IP addresses would be a bottle-neck for the growth of their business. Coupled with private network spaces used by most enterprises, it is hard to find a genuine business case for IPv6 in the form of IP shortage. So perhaps we should be looking elsewhere (to be continued in Part 2).
By Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc.
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