Tuesday, October 19, 2010

IPv6 - The Ostrich Effect

I have decided it is time to label one of the psychological effects being seen in the IT Professional community in regards to IPv6. I am calling it the Ostrich Effect and I am defining it as:

"The aversion to receiving information about IPv6 or avoiding the topic long enough in hopes it will go away"

It seems there are several different grouping of opinions regarding IPv6 and here are my quick outline of those groups below. I do think some of my group's mental states lines up with the stages of grief which are Denial, Anger, Negotiation, Depression and Acceptance however I think mine have more to do with the camps that have evolved around the issue of IPv6. I actually think that for each group defined below they will still have to go through all the stages of grief, I just think some will make it through without issue and some might not make it at all.

1. The "it will never happen" group
Typically folks in this category are more project planners, IT directors and CFO types who are justifying their comments by making generic snide references to how long have people been saying we would run out of IPv4 addresses and that it hasn't come to pass or that there is no new beneficial value from planning or even looking into IPv6. Their primary concerns are cost controls not operational issues so to them IPv6 only looks like an additional cost without any benefit. There are also people who believe IPv4 can live forever by doing even more NAT/PAT solutions but they clearly haven't looked at the bigger picture of the challenges with that for solution providers and carriers. Also, many in this group tend not to understand the larger issues with IPv4 vs IPv6 such as routing table size, the usage rate of addresses etc and seem to think that we can simply "recover" IPv4 addresses from folks who got allocated "too many" in the early days of IPv4. In a desperate plea to those folks, go take a look at what ARIN has to say about that.

2. The "I'm not convinced and this is annoying" group
Honestly, I think most business and management folks fit into this category right now. That is why there are IPv6 Task Forces all over the US to try and help people understand why they should be in the 3 or 4 category. Many professionals feel it is hard enough to keep up on what they have today in terms of technology so to learn a whole new networking protocol adds a lot of burden for the same perceived functionality they get out of IPv4 today. In addition, they truly believe they have a lot more time to work this out then they actually do. Basically they are stalling and are annoyed that people are telling them they have to pay attention.

3. The "I get it but I will wait for broader adoption" group
This group of people understand it is coming but don't want to be the first to have to do it. Unfortunately most network admins and system admins fit in this group. What is more alarming is they are horribly lacking in training and resources to get IPv6 working in their environment and unfortunately are unlikely to get budget to get the training they need. Hence their desire to wait! What is of great concern for them is when their management moves from group 2 to group 4 overnight. Then their management expects them to be able to implement overnight too. My only advise is get training any way you can so you are ready when the sleeping giant awakens.

4. The "I am totally stoked to get IPv6 rolled out" group
The rare group of IT professionals and visionary business leaders who understand that for their business model to continue working they must be able to support and communicate with everyone who might potentially be on the Internet, regardless of if they are using IPv4 or IPv6 to reach you. And with the address pool depletion happening soon (maybe before the end of 2010 if there is a run on addressing) you will have no choice - you MUST adopt IPv6 to meet that goal. So, they are already planning to design, deploy and support it, it means continued business which means everyone can keep the lights on. In other words, they get it. Many forward thinking companies have already starting doing this - kudos to you!

5. The "I've been doing IPv6 for years - what took you so long" group
The front runners and leaders who are using IPv6 as a strategic advantage as market leaders of services hoping to gain new customers and take customers from those who are unable to meet the new business requirements of those in group 4. Hate to say it but to be in group 5 means you've already been doing IPv6 for more than a year or longer. This group has left the station and it's an exclusive club and you can't join - sorry, it's just too late. For those in this group - you rock.

I hope to post up a road map that I am developing for the CAv6TF soon. It is for IT Professionals to allow them to rapidly meet the IPv6 requirements that will drop on them like a lead balloon. It is specifically targeted for folks in group 3 and 4 and has both the road map but a checklist too.
- Ed


CaptSlaq said...

I'm of the "Why did they not try and do IPV6 like AMD did with X86" group. Most of the transition problems could have been mitigated if a more pragmatic approach to extending EXISTING IP space had been taken up, from my armchair quarterback position.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing networking for at least 15 years and for the last 10 I have been hearing the immediate and pressing need to move to IPv6.
That is probably true for many of us.
Now it will probably be forced upon us by the carriers as they build out their IPv6 networks.
I predict moving to it will be very painful and expensive for most companies. But good job security :-)
In the long run it will be a good thing. In the short run we will hate not being able to remember IP addresses. Anyone remember manually addressing ATM addresses?
In terms of available address space, there is plenty out there. If most large companies were pressured into returning unused space there would be plenty.
I have worked at large companies and seen how address space is unused and wasted.
But IPv6 will offer more features and is inevitable at this point. So we might as well get on the train.