Back in 1798, Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principle of Population” and made the famous Malthusian Prediction:
… the power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.
About 200 years later, many began predicting that the lure of the Internet is indefinitely greater than the power in IPv4 to produce IP addresses for humankind. Thus, IPv6 was born.
Now, just as Malthus underestimated humankind’s ability to get more efficient at food production, many underestimated cyber-kind’s ability to squeeze more use out of IPv4’s range of IP addresses. Below, Gartner analyst Lawrence Orans comments on recent news in the IPv6 area:
IPv6 stories always get my attention, and Cisco’s blog post earlier this week is no exception. Cisco announced IPv6 support for its IronPort Email Security portfolio. Anytime a major vendor delivers IPv6-based services or products, it can only help to advance the IPv6 cause. Still, I can’t help but wonder how this story might get overhyped and misinterpreted , as is the case so often with IPv6. For example, just retweeting the blog headline “So Long v4! Here’s to v6 Being Secure! “ could be misleading.
Below are a couple of points to keep in mind about IPv6 adoption and security issues:
Yes, the IPv4 address space is running low. But, Gartner receives very few inquiries about IPv6. Why? Because most enterprises are not feeling any pain from IPv4. They are using private IP addresses, network address translation (NAT) and DHCP – which is a very efficient approach to managing an IPv4 address space. That’s the approach utilized worldwide, even in the Asia-Pacific region, which is definitely IPv4 address constrained. Enterprises in AP are running the same packaged applications(from Oracle, SAP, and others) that are not v6-compatible, and they are also using NAT and DHCP, and they are managing just fine.
Many security solutions don’t support IPv6 very well today. Many IPS vendors are “light” with their IPv6 signatures and v6-based anomaly detection is also light. Support for IPv6 amongst SIEM vendors varies widely. And then, there’s network management – how well does your console support IPv6?
Sure, IPv6 holds great promise. The initial benefits will be toservice providers who that support IPv6-enabled mobile devices. That means that IPv6 will be deployed first in service provider networks and external networks well before it is implemented in internal enterprise networks. Which means that you need to be paying attention to IPV6, but there is still no need to panic – IPv4 will be around for a very long time.
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