Time to take IPv6 Thoughtfully

Date:   Tuesday , July 03, 2012

Today with the advent of 3G, increased smart phone adoption and new applications, we are witnessing the world reaching an exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. Cars, Tabletís, GPRS systems as well as TVís need an IP address, due to customers demanding seamless access to the internet. Growth of the internet, 4G, inefficient IPv4 allocation and use, are some of the other factors making the world to move to IPv6.

Moving to IPv6 is not instant, it is an evolutionary process. Organizations today are becoming increasingly aware of this fact and are realising the importance of moving to IPv6. IT organizations have postponed the inevitable transition to IPv6 as long as they possibly can. With IPv6 mobile devices flooding the markets, and many countries only able to obtain IPv6 addresses, the time to get serious about IPv6 has finally come. To ensure they can still communicate with customers, business partners, suppliers, and other business associates worldwide, organizations need to decide how best to incorporate IPv6 into their existing infrastructures so they're well positioned to capture emerging markets.

Based in Bangalore, Anil Pochiraju is the Managing Director of F5 Networks in India and SAARC also agrees that there is a major shift undergoing in the enterprise networks. He is responsible for overseeing the company's efforts in India. Pochiraju has vast experience in managing strategic major accounts and good track record for building and nurturing successful teams at F5. Prior to this role, he was with F5 sales and technology team focused on the West Coast of the U.S. for over 5 years. Pochiraju brings with him 17 years of experience working in various technology firms in the U.S. and India

In a candid chat with Pochiraju, we explore a major trend that is following the market in terms of network migration and explains how it is beneficial for organizations to migrate.


Current trends following IPv6 and its Migration

Smart Phones started entering Indian Market rapidly. There was also a revolution of tablets and other applications coming online. This caused a new beginning to a number of ecommerce companies within the industry. Hence, all the service providers had a challenge which is, to ensure that they had business continuity. The Telcos had their IPv6 first because they knew most of their customers are getting on to the internet. The statistics of the number of internet users grew and our growth also grew to a 30 percent year on year, since 2010. This eventually meant more demand for IP addresses. There were three broad trends that we noticed: Application Intelligence, Application Security and Application Activation.

These trends are basically to understand the context of how a user is using the application. If we understand the user behavior, then we can make sure that the delivery of the application is fine tuned to the customers' needs. This means, better customer loyalty and better experience. Based on these factors, F5 Networks has been working with a lot of vendors to understand and enhance the applications. This becomes extremely important for the adoption of these applications too. For example, we understand some of the problems that our customers face and hence, we do the necessary changes that are required. As full capabilities, we understand what the user is trying to do and ensure better user experience irrespective of network conditions is good.

When a user has not yet migrated to IPv6, the applications are still running in IPv4, F5 Networks will bridge the applications so that the user successfully gets access to the resources. Similarly, if an IPv4 user comes in, we ensure that the user accesses IPv6 resource. Basically, we act as an IPv4 and IPv6 gateway to ensure that the business is not affected. When it comes to IPv4 and IPv6, it is understood that we need to resolve the DNS appropriately which is taken care of in the backend. Any user who is coming on an IPv6 network can use all our external resources without having to worry about it. When we migrate to IPv6, we had bridged it to the earlier IPv4 so that anyone who used our IPv6 could still use our infrastructure.

Issues that needs concern

The biggest problem the organizations are facing today is to come up with a good migration plan. IPv4 is still prevalent in the industry and there is a transition between these two standards and it would take some time for the entire transition to be complete. When we talk to our customers and hear about our migration plans, they have the capability to migrate to IPv6. This is what gets our customers excited and this is a revenue base for IPv6 projects. The companies need to plan for convergence of these networks. By default, convergence is what F5 always preached. This saves them cost in terms of backend infrastructure that they need to support distinct divisions.

The other challenge is related to security. Customers have had application security devices in place for a little while now. However, the applications are not IPv6 ready. So, one of the problems the enterprises, banks and service providers face, are all about how to protect the application against the security threats. F5 is the first one which got its application certified called the "Application Security manager" to be totally IPv6 ready.

Probably a year back, we were still in the planning stages. Now, we see a whole lot of traction in terms of requirement and need of the hour.
Over the last one year, we have spent quite a bit of time by educating our customers as to how F5 did it and how it is beneficial for them. We used our own story to our customers to have a better understanding of the migration to IPv6. Computers and other devices require Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to communicate over the Internet. The internet addresses being depleted, the Internet is adopting a new version - IPv6 which will provide many more unique addresses, support exponential growth and a simpler management.

IPv6 will coexist with IPv4 for a while and during this time. The transition to IPv6, if not carefully monitored and managed, can disrupt the applicationsí performance and put end-user experience, revenue and as a result the brand at risk.

Future dockets

From an F5 India perspective, our aims are very simple and clear. We have been a growth company and we intend to continue the growth and meet our stockholder's expectation. We also intend to adjacent status. In the application delivery controller stage F5 is the market leader with around 60 percent of the market share.

Our remote access solutions are rated best in the world and therefore intend to grow our market share in this space too. There are intensions of growth in the internet data security space which we announce all of our products as the data center firewall. We also have planes to foray into the Telco space by providing more solutions to our Telco customers.

With the advent of 4G, we see a lot of traction that the Telcos will have in terms of bridging 3G and 4G and also ensuring that they have an infrastructure that supports 4G. Hence, we intend to capitalize on our strengths globally and bring the solutions we have had in other geographies to India as well.

(As told to Vishwas Nair)