The push for IPv6


This is inspired from last night's LOPSA DC meeting. The topic was IPv6 and we had a round-table.

One of the big questions brought up was, "What's making me go IPv6?"

The stock answer to that is, "IPv4 addresses are running out, we'll have to learn at some point or be left behind."

That's all well and good, but for us? Most of us are working in, for, or with the US Government, an entity that is not going to be experiencing v4 address scarcity any time soon. What is going to push us to go v6 (other than the already existing mandate to have support that is)?

In my opinion, it'll come from the edges. IPv6 is a natural choice for rapidly expanding networks such as wireless networks, and extremely large networks like Comcast/Verizon run for their kit. These are two areas where sysadmins in general don't deal with much at all (VPN and mobile-access being the two major exceptions).

If your phone has an IPv6 address and accesses the IPv4 internet through a carrier-grade NAT device, you may never notice. Joe Average User is going to be even less likely to notice so long as that widget just works. Once v6 is in the hands of the "I don't care how it works so long as it works" masses, it'll start becoming our problem.

Once having a native v6 site means slightly better perceived mobile performance (those DNS lookups do cause a bit of latency you know), you can guarantee that hungry startups are going to start pushing v6 from launch. Once that ecosystem develops it'll start dragging the entrenched legacy stuff (the, er, government) along with it.  Some agency sites are very sensitive to performance perception and will adapt early. Others only put their data online because they were told to and will only move when the pain gets to be too much.

Business-to-business links (or those between .gov agencies, and their .com suppliers) will likely stay v4 for a very, very long time. Those will also be subject to pain-based mitigation strategies.

But the emergence of v6 on mobile will likely push a lot of us to get v6 to at least our edges. Internal use may be long time coming, but it'll show up at all because of the need to connect with others.


You say that once IPv6 is in the hands of the "I don't care, it just has to work" populace that it'll become our problem. My tablet (iPad 3 on Verizon), my cell phone (iPhone 5 on same) and my home Internet connection (Comcast) all have native, automatic IPv6 without me asking for it, with my mobile devices pulling v6 addresses whenever they're available. We all know how popular Apple products are, so I don't quite think this point is completely correct. It could possibly use some clarification.

It may well happen sooner than you think. There is a mandate out for Federal agencies to all transition to IPv6 and it's starting to have an impact:

Already a number of federal websites are available over IPv6 (such as the IRS, and and increasing numbers of services are too.
It's already caused some vendors to have to fix longstanding bugs that were hindering IPv6 adoption :)

Unfortunately that's not true from state level that I'm aware of, I haven't particularly heard of any states mandating it. Given the hodge-podge mess most State's infrastructures are, it could only help to make the transition, but also won't be easy.