by Paul Rudo on 16/02/11 at 6:14 pm
This is a guest article from Dave Kresse, CEO of Mu Dynamics
Change is coming. The protocol that underpins the Internet, IPv4, is at its limit. Early this year, the last of the IPv4 addresses were distributed, marking the end of an era. In order for the Internet to continue to connect people and devices around the world and keep fueling opportunity, growth and innovation, the time for transitioning to IPv6 is now. Truthfully, due to the multitude of challenges associated with this transition, this transition should have started months, if not years, ago.
The change to a new underlying network protocol is more far reaching than most people think. IPv6 introduces a completely new way of addressing endpoints, which can have ramifications at the network layer all the way up to the applications. This is not a change that can happen overnight; it’s going to take time. In addition, the reality is that IPv4 and IPv6 will need to co-exist in a variety of environments for many years, adding further complexity to the already complicated transition.
What this means for Network OEMs and Enterprises is that it will not be enough to ensure everything runs as it should in a “clean” IPv4 or IPv6 environment. Interoperability testing will need to be conducted to ensure networks and associated devices (computers, phones, tablets, etc.) and their associate applications properly interact within a variety of “short term” scenarios, such as a dual stack (where both IPv4 and IPv6 are simultaneously active) or tunneled (where IPv4 carries IPv6 as payload) environment.
To minimize disruption during this transition, complete functionality, scalability and security testing to understand how IPv6 impacts the services and networking infrastructure to run your business will be paramount. As environments evolve to meet new demands, you will need to keep up to ensure you understand the impact of each and every change: How will the network handle it? How will it affect different devices? What will it do to different applications, particularly when running simultaneously on a device?
Most organizations struggle to find the people, tools or time to conduct their existing tests, never mind conducting tests for a complete change in IP versions.
A successful transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is built on the foundation of proper testing for interoperability in real-world conditions – with real-world devices, real-world networks and real-world traffic.
This is where the emergence of new, multi-purpose testing platforms that use actual production traffic from your network and automate the generation of testing scenarios can help. These solutions can rapidly create tests that accurately recreate the production environment to help uncover and then mitigate any potential issues before deployment. They enable quick creation of a broad range of tests to help prepare and scale various environments and adapt as those environments change to help address any and all potential IPv6 transition challenges.
An effective migration to IPv6 is dependent upon being able to test for every given situation, anything less could affect the security, availability and performance of networks and Web applications. Virtually no organization can afford the disastrous effects that an ill-prepared IPv6 transition could have on user experience. In order to avoid that scenario, it is important for organizations to arm themselves with a testing solution that meets the needs of specific applications and environments.