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Handling network change: Is IPv4-to-IPv6 the least of your problems?

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Technology transitions are not black-or-white, all-or-nothing. Never has that been clearer than in networking, where a number of complicated radical shifts are occurring simultaneously.

Rivka Gewirtz LittleRivka Gewirtz Little

Network change is imminent. All at once we are moving from IPv4 to IPv6, building private and hybrid cloud networks and evaluating software-defined networking (SDN) or network virtualization.

Journalists and analysts tend to refer to technology transitions as one-time events, or changeovers that can be measured in short periods of time. Frankly, IT users would like nothing more than for these changes to be that clear cut. Unfortunately that's not the case.

What we are learning is that making radical network changes takes long periods of time, and often these changes demand engineers to run both old and new technology together.

In this issue of Network Evolution, we see multiple examples of what it looks like to make technology transitions by adopting new strategies while making the best of old. For example, very few IT shops will move entirely to running IPv6 networks; instead they'll manage dual IPv4/IPv6 environments. But IPv6 expert Ciprian Popoviciu also suggests that network users look beyond the move from IPv4 to IPv6 and consider redesigning their networks for both IPv6 and SDN at the same time. After all, if you're going to rethink your entire network for one technology, why not take a bit more risk and get both changes done at once? He goes even further to explain how the two sets of technology can even benefit each other.

In another article, veteran IT journalist Antone Gonsalves writes about choosing between hosted and on-premises unified communications and collaboration. Not surprisingly, many enterprises are using a little bit of both. For example, a large enterprise might use on-premises video conferencing for its main campus while turning to hosted services for remote offices. Other companies choose to get the most out of on-premises equipment they already own, while slowly investing in hosted services for new additions to their collaboration portfolio.

The same kind of phenomenon is playing out in the cloud where enterprises are at once transitioning their enterprise data centers into mini clouds while also turning to cloud providers to use public resources for non-core applications. In this issue, tech writer Sally Johnson writes that enterprises that are the most successful in using the cloud are those that don't "handcuff" themselves to legacy equipment. These companies look to use both private and public cloud resources, but turn to companies such as VMware for tools to help them manage across both on-premises and hosted clouds, as well as legacy equipment.

In the end, users make transitions when they are at a pain point and need change badly enough to take risks. The trick is in figuring out how to do so without losing everything, and the answer may be in take the transition incrementally. Hopefully, this issue gives some insight into that journey.

About the author:
Rivka Gewirtz Little is the executive editor of TechTarget's Networking Media Group. She and the Network Media Group recently launched SearchSDN.com, a new site on software-defined networking and network programmability.

This was first published in December 2013

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