Companies are being urged to pilot Internet Protocol version 6 as the next-generation networking standard is increasingly included in desktop operating systems.
Systems such as Windows Vista, XP SP2, Linux and Mac OS X run both IP version 6, and the current IP version 4. But since network equipment and host devices such as laser printers and file servers are only configured to use IPv4, the new protocol remains largely unused.
However, the replacement of IPv4 has begun and users will eventually need to migrate, warned Michael Disablo, vice-president and service director at analyst firm Burton Group.
He recommended users begin trialling IPv6 by enabling it in a few network routers to see how it runs on the corporate network. “It is essential to plan for IPv6. Eventually you will need to upgrade.”
Neil Rickard, research vice-president at Gartner, said, “Migrating to IPv6 is a huge undertaking, at least as big and complicated as Y2K projects, if not more so.”
It is essential for users to audit all their network hardware and servers to see whether they need to be upgraded or configured for IPv6, particularly security systems.
Burton Group said, “Some firewalls support IPv6; others support IPv6 only in software; still others plan IPv6 support for the near future – usually by 2008.”