In the first of a three part series, Lucas Pinz, Senior Technology Manager at PromonLogicalis in Brazil, looks at the impact of failing to adapt to a new global internet protocol, IPv6, on every business’ plans for growth.
IPv6. It sounds techy, like an issue that should be left to the IT department – and certainly not something for the CXO to spend valuable time on. Indeed, it’s only when you delve a little deeper, to understand the wider strategic implications of the move to a new internet protocol that it becomes clear precisely why CXOs should sit up and take notice.
The findings from a recent McKinsey Global Institute Internet Matters report serves to focus the mind. It claimed that 75 percent of the economic value produced by the internet benefits traditional industries.
The point is, whether you realise it or not, your business depends on the internet – just imagine what the impact on your business would be if it was unable to leverage its capabilities effectively. Just as importantly, failing to keep up with IPv6 readiness could have a severe throttling effect on your ability to deliver growth, particularly in those all-important emerging markets.
Here’s a quick briefing on the core issue.
Twelve months ago, the transition to a new worldwide standard for Internet Protocol (IP) addresses began, as the new standard, IPv6, was ‘switched on’ in June 2012.
But this was no simple upgrade. The reality is the world has run out of IPv4 public internet addresses. In early February 2011, IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) handed out the last remaining blocks of IPv4 addresses to regional distributors – those blocks have already run out in Asia and Europe regions and are expected to last until 2014 in Latin America, North America and Africa.
This is quite simply a function of the explosive growth of internet connectivity. The ‘old’ protocol was only ever designed to handle around 4.2 billion devices with public addressing. Meanwhile, according to the GSMA, there will be nearly 30 billion devices connected to the Internet in the next 15 years – suddenly 4.2bn seems like a drop in the ocean.
Enter IPv6. Aiming to avoid the depletion of IP addresses, IPv6 was created to allow the creation of a practically infinite number of public Internet addresses. I could list a host of technological benefits associated with the new protocol, but the one that should matter most to CXOs is this – IPv6 will ensure that the growth opportunities which would have been lost had the world allowed IP addresses to run out, are protected.
The bottom line then, is that IPv6 is a growth driver. Sooner or later, however, businesses that have not adjusted to IPv6 will be left on the outside looking in.
But what are these opportunities? Ultimately, they boil down to the ability to leverage the continued growth of the internet, the increasing internet-enablement of a wide range of products and services and the potential inherent in fast growing markets:
- In the near future, devices like cars, residential sensors, heart rate monitors, and home appliances, in short, any appliance will, in some way, be connected to the Internet.
- Moreover, there will be new demands generated by industrial and residential applications, transportation systems connected to the big cloud, integrated telephony services, sensor networks, distributed computing, and online gaming to name but a few
- The use of IPv6 is fast becoming a requirement for companies looking to tap into growth opportunities in emerging economies where IPv4 has already run out.
So there you have it. IPv6 is not simply an issue for the IT department. Getting it wrong could have dire consequences for competitiveness and growth. Yes, the IT department should be on top of the issue from a nuts and bolts point of view, but the CXOs must take a strategic overview and, more importantly, make sure plans are in place to migrate – especially as IPv4 will ultimately be phased out altogether
This is about protecting and future proofing existing infrastructure and network performance, managing technology risk, and ensuring that the door to significant growth, via internet enabled services, mobility and so on, is not closed.
In short, if you don’t know what your IT department is doing about IPv6, it might be a good idea to find out.