2010 tipped as IPv6 watershed year

Australian IPv6 Summit 2009 emphasis shifts to practical experiences over promotion

2010 has been signposted as a watershed year for the migration to IPv6 by Australian ISPs, governments and enterprises.

Speaking to Computerworld after the Australian IPv6 Summit 2009 held earlier this week in Melbourne, Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) director general Paul Wilson said the conversation had moved on from mere promotion to real world trials.

"The thing about those meetings is they have two components and they are gradually changing. They started off as being very much promotional and motivational and when I say these meetings I am talking about a long string of IPv6 summits which have been held around the world for quite some years now," he said. "They spent a lot of time on simply awareness raising – trying to tell people that there is an issue and things need to be done."

But now the marketing and awareness raising focus has evolved into discussions around pilot experiences and lessons learnt – as witnessed by the approximately 200 attendees at the summit this week.

"That is a really good thing to see because the promotion was going on for a long time and there was a sense, because the promotion was pretty hard, that we've been hearing about this for a long time and don't need to keep hearing about it. Whereas in fact, now is the time. I think frankly a lot of the promotion was too much too early because people didn't need to act with their real world businesses. They need a business case for anything that they do and quite realistically IPv6 is not needed today. But IPv6 will be needed in just a couple of years."

Founder and current President of the IPv6 Forum Downunder Michael Biber noted a shift in emphasis from planning to action and evaluation.

"We have gone through a watershed and that is the message coming out now," Biber said. "People are knuckling down and going through implementations, solving issues and doing case studies others can leverage with some confidence. These are not small scale bench top type exercises. They are real world with big investment and big backing."

The summit feedback comes after AARnet's first employee and the chief scientist at APNIC, Geoff Huston, warned the internet industry not to be complacent when it comes to IPv6 implementation.

Huston told Computerworld despite warnings that IPv4 addresses are running dry, there was not enough focus on developing technology around IPv6.

"There is still a lot of experimental technology going on at the moment with deeply-embedded IPv4," he said. "The industry is going to get a bit of a shock."

Internode has begun trialling IPv6 services in native mode on its national ADSL network but many Australian ISPs have no intention of running IPv6 trials in the short term despite research suggesting IPv4 addresses will run out within three years. A recent survey commissioned by the European Commission found that about 92 per cent of ISPs are either not using IPv6 or report little IPv6 traffic on their network.

The Australian IPv6 Summit is expected to be held again next year.

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