An alternative is for CIOs to outsource their Web content delivery to a service provider like Akamai or Limelight Networks, both of which are developing commercial-grade IPv6 based services in the cloud. DNS and hosting providers also may provide these translation services for IT departments on an outsourced basis.
Limelight has been working on IPv6 adoption since 2008 and has offered a commercial-grade IPv6 CDN service since 2009.
"We have a massive infrastructure: Tens of thousands of servers, just south of 10 terabits of egress capacity, hundreds of [Border Gateway Protocol] peers and tremendously complex routing policies to support that," says Tom Coffeen, director of Global Network Architecture at Limelight. "The scale of the challenge for us is very, very large. The relatively long adoption process served us well when World IPv6 Day rolled along."
Limelight's CDN delivered hundreds of thousands of Web objects and honored hundreds of thousands of client requests over IPv6 on World IPv6 Day. Coffeen says the success of Limelight's IPv6 offering on World IPv6 Day demonstrates that the CDN is ready for an influx of enterprise customers in 2012.
So what's the risk for CIOs that decide to do nothing about IPv6 in 2012? Your online presence may not be reachable by a growing number of customers around the world, experts say.
"The risk is that you are lights out for your customers," Hankins says. "The risk is that you are off the Internet to a small but growing population."
And that's a risk that few CIOs are likely to take given that it's relatively inexpensive to fix the problem using an appliance-based approach or a CDN.
"My advice to CIOs is to begin to do the migration and to begin their lab trials," says Qing Li, chief scientist at Blue Coat Systems. "This month, we have one of our largest financial customers coming to Blue Coat to get IPv6 training. We're talking to them about how to do IPv6 security, how to set up your infrastructure so there is IPv4 and IPv6 co-existence, and how to get application performance over both network types."
Read more about LAN and WAN in Network World's LAN & WAN section.