John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), says the North American supply of IPv4 addresses will run out in six to 18 months. The exact date of IPv4 depletion is hard to predict because it depends on how quickly the 10 largest ISPs in North America will use up the remaining supply of IPv4 address space
"My best guess is that we'll run out in a year and half," Curran said at the Network World seminar last week.
Curran says enterprises that need end-to-end connectivity with their users over the Internet -- for such applications as video streaming or fraud detection -- will need to deploy IPv6 rather than rely on their carriers to handle IPv4-to-IPv6 translation for them. These organizations "don't have a choice in deploying IPv6," Curran said.
One factor that will drive IPv6 deployment in 2012 is a U.S. government mandate that requires federal agencies to support IPv6 on all 10,000 of their Web sites by September 2012.
There's evidence that Web sites are already ramping up their IPv6 deployment efforts. A November survey by The Measurement Factory found that more than 25 percent of .com, .net and .org subdomains offer support for IPv6. That was an increase of 1,900 percent from 2010, when slightly more than 1 percent of subdomains supported the new protocol. The majority of this increase was the result of one domain name registrar -- GoDaddy -- enabling IPv6 for its customers.
"There's been more adoption of IPv6 in 2011 than all the previous years combined," said Paul Nicholson, director of product marketing at A10 Networks, at the Network World seminar. Nicholson recommends that organizations begin enabling their Web sites with IPv6 either in either dual-stack mode or with a server load balancer to handle protocol translation. "The need to move to IPv6 is critical," he added.
Brzozowski says IT executives have no choice but to deploy IPv6, and the sooner they start, the better.
"It's inevitable," he told the Network World seminar audience. "You should already be on your way or at least thinking about your IPv6 deployment...You will have to do something to make your business operate on the Internet."
Comcast has been working on its IPv6 deployment effort for seven years and plans to offer production-quality IPv6 service nationwide in 2012. After testing several transition mechanisms such as encapsulation and translation, Comcast decided to adopt a dual-stack strategy.
"IPv6 is a lot of work. There are a lot of moving parts," Brzozowski says, urging the audience to starting planning for IPv6 now. "Simply deploying IPv6 is a non-trivial activity."
Read more about LAN and WAN in Network World's LAN & WAN section.