CIOs must pay more attention to IPv6 migration, as the work required to make the move is more complex than is apparent and will required input from across a business and its stakeholders, Dr. Paul Twomey, CEO and president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Citing an example of a business where migration to IPv6 saw cusotmers, applications and even desktop browsers disconnected from networks due to unforseen consequences of the move, Twomey urged CIOs to make IPv6 a priority and to start planning so such disruption can be avoided.
The move will also have positive business benefits, he said, as the rest of the world adopts IPv6.
"China has announced it will move to IPv6 before the Beijing Olympics," he said, making the move an important one if Australian businesses are to enjoy easy connections with trading partners.
In a wide-ranging speech, Twomey said security and IPv6 are important considerations for the future, along with increased availability of broadband. "In Korea they now define broadband as allowing the download of a movie in under three minutes," he said. Australia must catch up to that definition and start to develop policy for what to do with broadband, rather than just debating how it gets built.
The urgency of that debate, he said, is broadband's potential to revolutionise many processes.
Dr. Twomey envisioned systems of remote sensors which, for example, detect water levels in real time and therefore let governmetns make decisions based on last week's data instead of what he called "19th century bureaucratic" processes that today hamper decision making at all levels.
The move to IPv6 will be key to enabling such networks and such changes, he said, as its provision of "340 trillion, trillion, trillion" IP addresses vastly outstrips IPv4's 4.2 billion addresses.
Even the mighty new namespace, however, may be tested by some of the plans Twomey has encountered.
"I have spoken to car makers that plan to place 10 or 15 IP-addressed devices in each car," he says. "The future will see a machine-to-machine internet with billions of connections."