Enterprise IPv6 Deployment Status

With more than 15 years of standards body representation and 10 years of development, IPv6 is now adopted by many large service providers and enterprises. Today, IPv6 is a robust and mature protocol that enables revitalization and innovation of new applications.

IPv6 deployment is happening across many vertical industries, as shown in Table 1-2. Table 1-2 IPv6 Deployment Across Vertical Markets

Vertical Market


Higher education and research

Building sensors

Media services




Embedded devices

Industrial Ethernet

IP-enabled components

Government (federal/public sector)

Department of Defense

Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)

Future Combat System (FCS)

Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)

Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE)



Traffic control


Transit services


Merger & acquisition – overlay networks


Home care

Wireless asset tracking




Set-top boxes

Internet gaming



Security monitoring



IP Services over Powerline

Originally, IPv6 was seen only in the research and vendor areas, where the first implementations of IPv6 were worked out. Since then, IPv6 deployment has grown into every vertical, some with specific use cases, such as sensor networks, robotic arms, environment controls, and sensors, whereas other use cases are similar in nature regardless of the vertical.

Most enterprises fall into one of three categories, as shown in Figure 1-3.

Enterprise Adoption Categories

Figure 1-3 Enterprise Adoption Categories

The first category is often called the preliminary research phase. Here the enterprise is researching whether IPv6 is real, the advantages of IPv6, how it fits into its environment, preliminary product gaps, and costs of deploying. This phase involves educating the company leadership about the relevance of IPv6 to meet its evolving business needs through online details. For the technical IT group, the research phase involves understanding the IPv6 protocol and its dependencies on its existing infrastructure achieved through working labs, classroom education, and labwork. Many enterprises in this phase are not sure whether IPv6 is relevant to them.

The second category is the pilot/early deployment phase, where most of the "why" has been answered or at least a decision has been made to move forward with IPv6 deployment regardless of a clear business justification for it. Often many consider IPv6 deployment without a clear business case as a "getting our house ready for an unknown guest" undertaking. Many who lived though the early VoIP and IP telephony days recall how unprepared they were for the massive paradigm shift brought on by these technologies and that they did not have their networks enabled for high availability (at least high enough for voice) and QoS. Investing in IPv6 through time, energy, and budget before having a defined business case is often an endeavor in preparing for the unknown or, arguably, the evitable. More serious assessments are made, training has begun, and serious conversations with non-IPv6-compliant product vendors are happening in this phase.

Finally, the third category is the production phase, where the enterprise is looking for a high-quality production IPv6 deployment. At this point, it is moving most, if not all, IT elements to IPv6, and the mind-set is parity with what the enterprise has with IPv4 or is at least good enough to not interfere with the business. The business might still be dealing with noncompliant products or vendors, but most of that has been dealt with by getting rid of those without a strong road map. It is down to doing business as usual but also focusing on using IPv6-enabled applications and services as a competitive advantage.

Throughout the entire process, constant education happens on both the technical and business side, and at each step of the process, there must be continuous buy-in from all groups involved.

Historically there have been deployment challenges with IPv6 adoption, especially because enterprises would not deploy given that there were only a small subset of products supporting IPv6 and not many service providers had IPv6 deployed at their peering points. The service providers would not support it because no enterprises were asking for it, or there were too few products supporting it. Vendors were not building products to support it because there were no enterprises or service providers asking for it. It was and in some cases still is an ugly, vicious circle that can only be broken by innovators and leaders who step out first.

From a content provider perspective, one of the leaders and best deployments for IPv6 is Google, which has launched its "trusted adopter" program: http://www.google.com/ipv6. Other content providers and industry-leading websites are already IPv6-enabled for those hosts who support reaching them through IPv6. Some sites include Google (search and Gmail), YouTube, Netflix, Comcast, and Facebook.

Contrary to trade magazines, blogs, vendors, and skeptics, enterprises have already and are currently deploying IPv6. Many companies do not advertise that they are deploying IPv6, leading to the misconception that deployments are not occurring. Many companies are secretive about IPv6 deployment for security reasons (not knowing what all the attack vectors are and not having robust enough security measures in place), others for financial reasons.


IPv6 is the next-generation protocol for the Internet that overcomes the address limitations of IPv4 and removes or reduces the cases for NAT/PAT as they are used today. The key market driver for IPv6 is the abundance of IP addresses. This enables business continuity and opens the door for new applications across the Internet.

The IETF and other organizations continue to evaluate solutions and generate drafts and RFCs to ensure the interoperability of IPv6-enabled hosts.

The majority of service providers and content providers, and many enterprises, are planning, deploying, or have deployed IPv6 within their network infrastructure to future-proof them for new applications.

This topic focuses on providing enterprises and service providers with a design framework to assist them in moving to IPv6 through a smooth transition with existing transition technologies and describes ways of integrating IPv6 into their existing infrastructures.

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