Big business washed out by the Queensland and Victorian floods should invest in IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) network equipment, while affected small to medium organisations would be smart to wait for donated equipment, according to industry pundits.
IPv6 is the replacement for the current internet protocol standard, IPv4, and allows significantly more web addresses. The number of numeric addresses is dwindling under IPv4, with the exhaustion date set for this year, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which controls IP address allotments.
Experts have been quick to downplay suggestions of a land grab or abrupt disruption to internet services. Rather, end users and even internet service providers will be oblivious to the exhaustion in the short term, according to Internet Society of Australia president Tony Hill and IPv6Now managing director.
However, businesses that must replace IT infrastructure lost in the devastating floods in Queensland and Victoria this month should take the opportunity to buy IPv6 networking equipment.
"I think it is a good idea for flood-affected businesses to buy IPv6 equipment if they need to," Hill said.
"But I suspect awareness is pretty low."
He said many internet providers do not educate users or businesses on the many benefits of IPv6. However, provider Internode will this year sell only dual IPv6- and IPv4-capable equipment to new customers and will also activate its own IPv6 services.
Yet, while big businesses would do well to insist on IPv6 for replacement equipment, small businesses should use their government grant money to invest in other areas of the business, and instead take advantage of free equipment donated through the government- and industry-backed Queensland IT Relief Program, according to Datacom's program manager Lewis Benge.
"Smaller businesses should, if possible, avoid spending money on IT equipment because [the industry] can help provide free equipment and services," he said.
"One of the reasons that we are not targeting larger companies [with the donations] is that the local IT industry needs to survive."
Local businesses that assist with the program are forging customer relationships and inking deals, Benge said.
The program has been pledged more than 700 personal computers, as well as swathes of multifunctional printing devices and networking equipment, most of which is less than 18 months old and all no older than five years. Benge said that some devices may be IPv6-capable but could not at the time provide confirmation of how many.
The notion that flooded businesses should move to IPv6 has been discussed in forums by networking experts, while pundits have discussed the need to upgrade for as long as a decade.
Co-founder of the internet turned Google evangelist, Vinton Cerf, this week voiced concerns on the looming exhaustion "deadline" at this year's Linux.conf.au conference, urging adoption of IPv6.
Meanwhile, Google engineer Lorenzo Colitti, charged with transitioning the company to IPv6, told AFP the industry is "driving toward a wall" adding that "IPv6 is the only real long-term solution".
Internode managing director Simon Hackett has said previously that some internet providers will begin to run out of IPv4 addresses during next year and will either seize-up or use carrier-grade Network Address Translation to split up the remaining addresses. He said the latter technology may be problematic and will require compromises on subscribers.