IPv6 for Managers

We’re currently involved in a number of IPv6 activities in different organizations and one of the questions we are still facing – even in cases where there’s already a (in most cases networking team driven/originated) “project” (incl. budget, project sponsor, milestones etc.) – is along the lines of “How to sell IPv6 to our management?”.

In the following I will shortly lay out the line of reasoning and the terminology we usually employ for the task. Furthermore I’ve anonymized a presentation which we recently prepared as “input” for the network team of an enterprise organization; it can be found here. In case you want to get this as a PPT (for recyling purposes) pls send me a direct email (in exchange, we might ask you for a small donation of your will to the Troopers charity project… ).

On a technical level we see two main reasons for deploying IPv6 soon:

a) the lack of IPv4 addresses and the subsequent need to put stuff like NAT and CGNs into the traffic path.
This has several consequences, amongst others:

  • overall network access and communication acts get more difficult which might come into the way of “growth” (of customers, for any type of organization).
  • Internet providers (who actually carry the costs for the above workaround technologies) have started thinking about getting rid of IPv4 in the near/mid term future. See Lee Howard’s “The Cost of IPv4-IPv6 Transition” presentation from last year’s North American IPv6 Summit to get an idea why this could make sense for them.
    Once they do so, maybe in the beginning just for some groups of subscribers (e.g. “smartphone users, aged 16–25, accessing mainly Facebook & YouTube”), offering IPv4-only services might just mean losing customers…

b) The Internet of Things (IoT).

While this, again, may not seem too important to a manager from a typical enterprise organization (“Why would we ever deploy such devices in our corporate network”), there’s some things to be kept in mind in this space:

  • embedded systems for “production networks” (ICS/SCADA type stuff).
  • building automation, time tracking, fire alarms etc. Stuff that pretty much every organization has somewhere in their corporate network.

For example, just recently I was involved in an address planning exercise with the IT office of a huge municipality and in the course of the discussion they immediately grasped the concept and pointed out “what about those network-connected parking metres we’ll deploy next year?”.


In terms of terminology and line of argumentation here’s some more recommendations:

  • associating “IPv4” with the attribute “legacy” might help creating “the right type of connotations”.
  • some of you certainly know that a common question in all types of “management discussions” is about “What do our industry peers do?”. Be prepared to face it and to provide an answer, ideally from the same industry vertical you’re in. Adding attributes like “technology-centric” or even “innovative” when referencing those peers might further help to create feelings in the right direction ;-).

Last but not least: when it comes to “when is the right time?” be realistic. Don’t tell them there’s an urgent need to have the full migration done within the next 12 months. But make them aware that a (quickly) growing number of users (read: customers) have IPv6 enabled now and that their systems will prefer IPv6, so falling back to IPv4 is only their second best choice of connection…

We’re happy to hear your story so feel free to leave a comment to this post or get in touch with us on Twitter (@Enno_Insinuator) or by classic email.

All the best for you upcoming IPv6 projects,
have a great day




  1. Nice. But will they listen? For a customer I digged up papers from Gartner and articles from the German Computerwoche. All from 2010 – 2012. All said: Start thinking about IPv6 now! But not much has happened.

    Regarding NAT was sold as security feature for the last couple of years and people want to believe that NAT is security. I heard about security polices from some larger cooperation requiring NAT. And as their favorite vendor can’t do NAT for IPv6 right now, they can’t implement IPv6.

    One addition to your slides: I always tell people that they will make mistakes when implementing IPv6. People / customers will notice especially on the internet facing side of you business. The question is: How many? Right now potentially about 9% in Germany but the numbers are growing.

    Here is another talk about the topic: I really like slide 19. 😉

  2. Nice Enno. A few thoughts:
    1) Mobility is huge. The number of mobile connected devices to the Internet exceeds the human population this year. Smart devices (SmartPhones, Tablets, Wearables) and other mobile user devices are exploding. 4G/LTE is driving IPv6. Many including Gartner see this pushing IPv6 into the Enterprise. See also the Cisco Visual Network Index.
    2) IoT and M2M is huge. Everyone agrees this is an IPv6 only technology. An interesting thing though is that sometimes things like energy management, building automation, and the like are done outside of IT. Make sure IT/Executives are aware of these initiatives. Most large companies are either implementing or evaluating energy management solutions to contain costs.
    3) The complexity NAT forces into applications is hard to grasp. Just look at the dozens of RFCs out of the IETF Behave WG, the TRAM WG, and ICE from one of the SIP WGs. As IPv6 penetration achieves critical mass in more and more countries expect incremental improvements that are IPv6 only. This will likely start from Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook (who’s already going IPv6 only internally) but will spread outwards. Furthermore, as young application developers see how much easier it is to develop applications with end-to-end access expect more interest in IPv6 only applications.
    4) Time – Once an organization accepts that IPv6 is inevitable and takes a hard look at even limited deployment they are frequently surprised at the length of time required. That’s why it’s critical to at least begin a serious evaluation now.

  3. @James, about your number 4: They should have started years ago. I talked to some people form a large enterprise recently. One of their reasons for not doing IPv6: “We just bought this large commercial cloud solution. It does not support IPv6 and probably will not support IPv6 for years.”

    If I find the time I’ll write a blog post this weekend about how different people are going to implement IPv6.

    1. Jens,

      thanks for your comments (and the nice link provided in your 1st comment), both greatly appreciated.
      As for the potential blog post you have in mind: looking forward to that one! any contribution to the ongoing “IPv6 implementation debate” is welcomed…


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