Wednesday, June 21, 2023

IPv6-only has become a thing

Outside of posting content around Tech Field Day events I occasionally participate in, my blog hasn't seen a lot of activity. Mainly because I have been posting content over at the Infoblox IPv6 Center of Excellence or via the IPv6 Buzz Podcast. I recommend you check both those out, it isn't just me generating that content but also Scott Hogg, Tom Coffeen, Cody Christman, Tim Martin, and other great IPv6 content creators.

I did want to highlight one observation I have made starting at the end of 2022 and continuing throughout 2023 and that is the noticeable increase of discussions around IPv6-only. In the past, IPv6-only was a smaller corner case for many organizations as everyone thought the natural progression for IPv6 adoption (IPv6 transition) was to move to dual-stack first and figure out the deployment and operational issues and then shut off IPv4. The problem with this workflow was twofold. First, it is difficult to determine operational issues in dual-stack networks as happy eyeballs hides many of those issues from you. And second is that no one actually turns off IPv4, which defeats the whole purpose of adopting IPv6 for the long run.

There is no denying that part of the reason for some much IPv6-only conversation is due to the IPv6 transition requirement that OMB published regarding moving to IPv6-only. Deploying dual-stack doesn't help an organization meet the requirements defined in the memo, which leaves these departments and agencies to figure out how to do IPv6-only. There are also now more Fortune 500 and Forbes Global 2000 companies who are having significant IPv4 address supply issues and realizing they only want to get around those is to either buy more costly public IPv4 address space or adopt IPv6-only to slow the burn rate of IPv4 usage.

Every organization has their unique business and technical requirements. IPv6-only may only address problems in one of those problems spaces. But it is a tool that more organizations are realizing they should have in their tool belt and that they can get wins in both business and technical requirements. For example, IPv6-only makes merger and acquisitions much easier to perform as making use of GUA space guarantees uniqueness of addresses, meaning it is a simple routing and peering problem to integrate the networks and not a NAT or re-addressing project that might take years to complete. It also means the timeframe to perform a merger or to integrate an acquired company drops dramatically. This has profound impact on the financial structure of the deal which is something that should not be overlooked.

I think it is important for people to realize there are not a lot of people with industry experience deploying IPv6-only networks. So, be cautious when talking with vendors, consultants, and industry peers about what to do. Very few people have the experience and design skills to navigate everything that goes into making IPv6-only a reality. I have interacted with a lot of vendors and consultants recently who claim they can do it, but the only IPv6 they have deployed is dual-stack and they have serious gaps in their knowledge and in the solutions that will actually work. So, do your homework and buyer beware. I will try and post some IPv6-only resources as I run across them (or just write them myself!)

- Ed

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