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BLOG: Mobile Devices and BYOD are driving IPv6 adoption

Scott Hogg | June 25, 2013
A mobile population needs IP addresses to communicate.

These mobile devices are making their way into enterprise networks. Employees prefer their own devices and the feeling that they are more productive with a device of their own choosing. Enterprises initially tried to fight this trend, but then eventually, enterprises realized that they needed to have a strategy to support these employee-owned devise. Now many enterprises have embraced the BYOD movement and are proactively managing the devices on their networks. Many "Fortune 500" enterprises that have successfully created a BYOD offering for their users have realized that security, data and device management are the keys to success.

IT departments must also recognize that the vast majority of these mobile devices are now dual-protocol capable. If you put an iPad, an iPhone, or an Android device on a dual-protocol WiFi network or on a dual-protocol 4G/LTE network, then they will prefer IPv6 connectivity if it is available. If one of your employees goes on a business trip to an Asian country they might connect to an IPv6-enabled network and possibly encounter a problem reaching a corporate application. Will your helpdesk be able to troubleshoot this scenario? Most enterprises have yet to realize that even if they have not deployed IPv6 internally there could still be IPv6-enabled devices on internal networks that are using IPv6 tunneling techniques to reach IPv6-enabled content on the Internet. Few enterprises are also aware that their mobile workforce may be using IPv6 when traveling or working from their homes.

Therefore, IT departments, user support centers and help-desks need to have the tools to help them manage these BYOD devices. Even if your internal network is not using IPv6 today, your IT staff may need the ability to troubleshoot IPv6-related issues. The question is: Does your staff have the knowledge and the tools to be able to diagnose and correct these problems quickly? On April 18th at the IPv6 Summit, Tom Coffeen, Infoblox IPv6 Evangelist, gave a presentation on the IPv6 and BYOD topic and wrote an article on "DHCPv6 Fingerprinting and BYOD". Yanick Pouffary, Distinguished Technologist and Chief Technologist, Technology Services-Networking, Hewlett-Packard Company, gave a presentation at the 2013 IPv6 Summit titled "BYOD and IPv6 - Are you ready for the flood of Employee Owned Devices?"

Large and medium-sized enterprises are recognizing the importance of having a BYOD policy and a Mobile Device Management (MDM) system that focuses on the security and support of the mobile devices. Solutions like Citrix XenMobile (was Zenprise) provide valuable tools to support a mobile workforce based on the corporate policies. Unfortunately, in my research, I could not find any of these MDM solutions that work with IPv6 addresses.

More Internet-connected devices will make IPv6 a requirement for connecting all these "things" to the Internet of Things. Much of the content on the Internet remains IPv4-only, but many of the largest content-provider's sites have transitioned to using both IPv4 and IPv6. The end-node operating systems are IPv6-capable, but they need native IPv6 connectivity to the Internet from ISPs and mobile operators. The service providers have an incentive to deploy IPv6 because it eliminates the limitations of IPv4 and allows them to continue to grow the number of subscribers and thus grow their businesses. All this takes time, but the growth of mobile devices and the Internet of Things will continue to put pressure on IPv4 addressing. Enterprises need to be prepared for this transition with BYOD and MDM solutions that function in a dual-protocol world.


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