28 Sep 2010
Selling enterprise customers on an IPv6 migration plan with no obvious ROI is not easy. Whether your sales reps are coaxing expense-phobic CFOs or skeptical IT professionals, service providers will face resistance. As such, carriers must pitch the IPv6 transition as a gradual process that enables business continuity, rather than relying on Y2K-style scare tactics.
"It's almost like convincing your kids that they want to eat their spinach," said Pieter Poll, CTO of Qwest Communications. "You need to convince your customers that this is really something they want to pay attention to; but on the flip side, this is not do-or-die on a certain date, as Y2K was portrayed…. Just like with your kids, you try a few vegetables, maybe find one or two they like, see if they enjoy the benefits and work your way from there."
Although the Internet won't go dark the day IPv4 addresses are depleted, service providers must push enterprises to ramp up their IPv6 migration plans. Network operators must ensure that their support engineers aren't overwhelmed by IPv6 issues experienced by unprepared enterprise customers. They also need to generate some ROI for the millions they have spent on readying telecom infrastructure and systems for IPv6 by turning that readiness into a competitive edge with enterprises.
Enterprises will need to support IPv6 on network gear, servers and clients, in addition to ensuring that their management and security systems are IPv6-compatible. Customers will look to carriers for guidance not just to evaluate which pieces of their infrastructure need to be upgraded or replaced but also to decide the best IPv6 transition path -- dual-stack architecture, tunneling or network address translation (NAT).
"A lot of enterprises are asking, 'Why?' and 'What do we need to do about this?' and they're turning to their service providers … for answers," said John Mazur, principal analyst at Ovum. "[Operators] are trying to establish leadership and get this under control."
Qwest, which in July announced its plans to offer IPv6 addressing to enterprise and government customers, has focused its strategy on helping enterprises understand the business value of an early and careful IPv6 migration, Poll said.