Growing Pains of IPv6

growing-pains

It was way back in 2004, that a “smart” microwave entered the market. It required a network connection so that it could scan the barcode on your TV dinner, download the cooking instructions online, and cook the perfect frozen fish stick meal. It sounds a bit ridiculous even now, but people actually depend on the net for many things like banking, navigation, communication, and even cooking sometimes.

The internet is no longer a “nice to have”; it’s become an everyday tool, almost an essential service that we rely on more and more. Not everyone has or needs to be connected 24/7 on the newest device, but it’s no doubt that one of the biggest IPv6 challenges will be the countless new devices needing IPs and the soon-to-be-developed apps that will require net access.

With that said, I’ve been surprised by the differences in IP knowledge that I’ve encountered in the industry. On a recent speaking engagement in Latin America, I discussed the effects of IPv6 on data, video, and voice services. I quickly realized that this audience had a difference perspective on IP. Triple play is a known entity in North America and most are familiar with its challenges, but in Latin America, the transition to IPv6 required more justifications.

Even within hardware companies there are different levels of understanding about IPv6. At a recent conference I attended, the top brass representatives of a major equipment vendor were proud and willing to build NAT boxes, but the project engineers and IPv6 leads I spoke with were reluctant to support these endeavors.

NAT requires application designers to find clever ways to traverse NATs both ways. STUN servers, Rendezvous, and Bonjour are the types of tricks used to mitigate these problems. NATs may prolong your IPv4 life, but be ready for an ordeal as developers continue building new apps.

Perhaps it’s not an issue now, but soon end users won’t be able to run their favorite apps on their tablets, PCs, and smartphones. Or more precisely, they may run intermittently. The apps may run for days and then stop functioning altogether paired with button mashing, device abuse, and an overload of expletives.

End user frustration turns into help desk calls, which leads to inefficiencies, which results in more costs. That should be understandable at all levels.

As we become more attached to our devices and demand more connectivity, devices need to get online without a glitch. It’s time that we all got up to speed so users won’t be caught in the middle.

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