Gartner estimates the cost of migrating an enterprise to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) could be as high as six per cent of the entire annual IT budget.
Once migration is complete, the ongoing costs will fall to about one per cent of the IT budget.
Gartner analyst, Neil Rickard, says organisations should be aiming to have an IPv6 capability on the internet within the 2012 to 2015 timeframe.
He said a cheaper option is limited deployment, which allows an enterprise to gain valuable IPv6 experience without the expense and risk of a full migration.
The IPv6 address allocation system was introduced to replace IPv4 addresses which will become increasingly scarce in the next three years.
Gartner predicts that by 2013, unallocated IPv4 addresses will not be available from 90 per cent of registrars.
This shortage will lead to continuing price rises for IPv4 addresses right through to at least 2015.
As IPv6 deployment becomes widespread prices will decline, but in the meantime Gartner predicts peak pricing could be as high as $10 per IP address.
In its Enterprise Action Plan for IPv6 migration, the analyst firm warns that deploying applications using IPv6 represents a higher security risk than IPv4.
Another major task is upgrading software so it is IPv6 compliant.
To do this, Rickard says enterprises will require a Y2K-like testing program.
“Specifically tuned applications may run faster under IPv6; but for most applications, performance will decrease by an average of 10 per cent,” he says.
“This performance decrease will not impact client PCs, but will impact servers.
“As a result enterprises will need to purchase more server capacity to deliver the same workload under IPv6.”
The first task listed in the action plan is to conduct an inventory of IPv4 address utilisation as address space is set to become a financial asset.
The next step is to create an inventory of the IPv6 readiness of the entire IT environment. This should include the IPv6 status of each type of hardware and software.
Moreover, enterprises should make IPv6 support a requirement of all new IT purchases.
Once an IPv6 roadmap has been developed, staff training should commence as early as possible. Depending on the availability of IPv6 trained staff, external help may be required.
The IT manager of an online grocery service, Alex Stefanovic, says it is important not to assume that IPv6 migration is a networking issue.
“Learning a new networking protocol isn’t difficult it is the wider ramifications across the entire organisation that are critical,” Stefanovic says.
“This migration isn’t just about enabling IPv6 on switchers and routers.
“It really is a massive undertaking that impacts most areas of IT.”
Stefanovic also believes there are legal ramifications associated with IPv6 migration as more security vulnerabilities are identified.
“IPv6 is untested and we will probably see some security breaches are caused by inexperience,” he says.
“It means legal teams need to work with IT to develop contingency plans to minimise potential breaches.”
In a bid to maintain costs, Stefanovic said his organisation originally opted for a niche deployment of IPv6.
“We identified areas where it was beneficial to use IPv6 over IPv4,” he says.
“From there we expanded the deployment.”