"The Internet content industry wants quality access to the users, with high bandwidth, low latency, low jitter and with consistent network information," said John Curran, president and CEO of the ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers), which doles out IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to North American network operators. "Connectivity via [network address translation] doesn't cut it.... The content industry is well aware of what it takes to deliver quality content, and it isn't IPv4. It's IPv6."
IPv6 proponents have floated many potential killer apps over the years besides the inevitable exhaustion of IPv4 address space.
Then in 2006, when the cable industry added IPv6 to its DOCSIS 3.0 standard, it appeared that cable operators like Comcast and Time Warner would be the early adopters of IPv6.
Other ideas that have been promoted as IP address hogs and IPv6 enablers over the years include video streaming, online gaming, and cloud computing.
As recently as 2009, prognosticators anticipated that the Internet of Things -- including sensors and actuators -- would drive IPv6 deployment through such applications as the electricity industry's Smart Grid project.
Now it appears that business continuity is the idea that's resonating with enterprise buyers of IPv6 products. By using this term, network vendors are highlighting the fact that ISPs and enterprises must upgrade to IPv6 in order to keep their online operations -- websites, email, and other external-facing Web services -- accessible to the small-but-growing number of Internet users assigned IPv6 addresses by their carriers.
McFarland gave the example of a customer in Asia with an IPv6 address trying to access a U.S. banking application that only supports IPv4. "They can't get to your portal," he said, explaining that companies need to upgrade their Internet edge to allow access by both IPv4 and IPv6 users to corporate Web sites.
The same argument is being made in the U.S. federal government, which must support IPv4 and IPv6 on all externally facing Web services by Sept. 30, 2012 under an Obama Administration mandate. Agencies must upgrade their Web, email, DNS, and ISP services to support IPv6 by this September and all internal Internet services to IPv6 by September 2014.
"The number one federal driver for IPv6 is business continuity," said Dale Geesey, COO of Auspex Technologies and an adviser to federal CIOs regarding IPv6 deployment. "The other drivers are modernization, to reduce complexity and to enable ubiquitous security."
The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs, which is already 99 percent compliant with the Obama Administration's IPv6 mandate, said it has been working on IPv6 deployment since 2006.