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Professional services emerge for IPv6 migration, perhaps a bit early

Service providers are angling to sell consulting services to aid the IPv6 migration process. Their usefulness will depend on the project's size and the level of in-house expertise.

As enterprises develop their IPv6 migration strategies, they will spend vast amounts of time and money on training, planning and implementation. Wide-area network (WAN) service providers are ready to help -- for a price, of course. Depending on the scope of an IPv6 migration and the level of in-house expertise, professional services for IPv6 planning can be a worthy investment or unnecessary expense.

Verizon Business recently announced a suite of consulting services available immediately to help enterprises assess, plan and implement their IPv6 migration strategies.

"What we're finding is [IPv6 migration has] proved to be very complex," said Melissa Bellisario-Board, senior consultant for product management and development at Verizon Business. "It's not an event. IPv6 is a process, so we need to ensure that … it's thought through intelligently." 

Verizon's "assessment and gap analysis" services will audit an enterprise's physical and logical infrastructure -- from routers to applications -- for its ability to support IPv6, according to Waliur Rahman, professional services managing principal for Verizon's IPv6 practice. Planning services help IT shops design conceptual- and detail-level architecture; implementation covers deployment, testing and training.

WAN  providers' consulting  services will attract networking pros if their deployments are too unwieldy to tackle on their own, according to Rick Drescher, director of technical services at Studley Inc., a real estate services firm based in New York City.  But he says he won't need them.

"We’d probably just do [IPv6 migration] in house," he said. "I could see pro services being useful for companies with a lot to migrate, but for the relatively small number of public IPs that we have, we could handle it with internal resources."   

Most enterprises are not going buy IPv6 migration services for some time, according to Lawrence Orans, research director at Gartner Inc. Their short-term objectives are usually limited to migrating "a handful of servers" that support mobile employees, partners and customers that access public-facing applications via the IPv6-based Internet, he said.   

"Network managers are not feeling enough pain right now to consider migrating their internal networks to IPv6, due to private IP addresses and to technologies like DHCP and network address translation, which enable the efficient use of the IPv4 address space," Orans said. "However, the situation is different for many government agencies that must comply with IPv6 mandates. They may benefit from professional services help, particularly if they are resource-constrained and don't have the time to develop in-house IPv6 skills."

Get IPv6 migration strategies rolling now

As only seven /8 blocks of IPv4 address, or 2.7%, remain in the free pool for regional Internet registries (RIRs) to allocate, the need for advanced IPv6 migration planning grows, according to John Curran, executive director of CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN). Once the pool shrinks to the last five blocks, they will be divided equally among the five global RIRs, he said.

[The] average organization today doesn't need to hire consultants and pay for training and try to get this done at a particular pace.

John Curran

"It's a pretty big sign that we're getting close to the end," Curran said.

Although individual enterprises' needs differ, starting the IPv6 migration early means the "average organization today doesn't need to hire consultants and pay for training and try to get this done at a particular pace," Curran said.

"It might be able to be incorporated in the normal staffing and training costs that organizations have, as long as they take the time to do it," he added. 

Kevin Rice, global network architect at A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm headquartered in Chicago, said his organization has not initiated an IPv6 migration strategy yet "because we have yet to see app support of the protocol across the Internet and Industry globally."

Rice said he wouldn't be shopping for consulting services because all of his IT staff already "understand[s] its complexities, benefits and impact." 

Stumped about IPv6 migration strategies? Ask your service provider

In addition to Verizon, other network operators and colocation providers have expressed interest in selling professional consulting services to enterprises for their IPv6 migration.

In a recent interview discussing how telecom operators can monetize their IPv6 push to enterprises, Qwest Communications CTO Pieter Poll said that consulting services specific to IPv6 transitions were likely in Qwest's future.

Qwest is now selling professional services "to help customers evaluate their existing infrastructure and identify any gaps that need to be addressed in transitioning to IPv6," according to Qwest spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler.

"No, I think there is no direct IPv6 bundle you could do that is somehow going to generate incremental revenue," Poll said in an interview with "But there's a lot behind that, including consulting, [which] you could do to take some of the burden off the enterprise customer -- where you absolutely can create [revenue] opportunity."

New York City-based colocation provider Telx is also considering professional consulting services for IPv6 migration.

"We have not finalized our strategy, but … we would like to help customers with this transition, and there could be some service charges for this," said Rose Klimovich, vice president of product development at Telx.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Jessica Scarpati, News Writer.


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