There are some perennial IT trends that crop up each year about this time, and in networking, IPv6 always seems to be in the mix. Well, after many years, I think IPv6 is moving from a check-box item which “I’ll promise to do one day,” to being something where customers are now saying “you guys better be nearly finished because we want to start testing.”
2012 is going to be an interesting year from an IPv6 point-of-view. I think most enterprises are a long way from deploying IPv6, but a few are being forced down-the-path, in particular, in the “Web” vertical. If you look at the big Internet companies and service providers, it is those types of environments that require a lot of IP addresses, and perhaps even more in parts of the world outside the United States. Those are the places where things are moving towards IPv6 more rapidly.
For the average medium-sized enterprise in the US, we are still a few years away from where IPv6 matters. However, there is a cohort of companies in the US where it’s becoming important and something they need to move on now. A few years ago, it was predicted that the Federal space would drive the adoption of IPv6. And while they are still asking for it, I am not sure that is the first place we will see widespread deployments of IPv6. It will start with the Web companies.
IPv6 support comes naturally with Silver Peak’s architecture. Because we already utilize tunnels for optimization, our architecture is ideally suited to help customers migrate from IPv4 to IPv6. Today, Silver Peak carries and optimizes IPv6 traffic that is being tunneled in IPv4, which is the majority of IPv6 traffic today. Even though there are a number of different flavors of IPv4 and IPv6 inter-working, WAN optimization appliances can certainly play a critical role. If you are looking at native IPv6 clients and you want to get them across the network between two islands of IPv6, Silver Peak will be able to carry IPv6 native packets across our IPv4 tunnels to the other side.
So as you plan for IPv6, keep WAN optimization in mind. It may turn out to be a valuable part of the solution, rather than yet another networking device to IPv6 enable.