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No IoT without IPv6

Charles Sun | May 20, 2016
Does your company foresee making big bucks from the Internet of Things? It won’t be happening without widespread adoption of IPv6 first.

Do you think the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the Next Big Thing? It can’t be. Not until we get past the real Next Big Thing: IPv6.

Without the extensive global adoption and successful deployment of IPv6 as the primary version of the Internet Protocol, the IoT won’t be possible. In fact, the future of the Internet itself is at stake. Here are the five reasons why:

1. The IoT will need more IP addresses than IPv4 can provide.

According to Gartner’s estimate, by 2020 there will be more than 26 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet. Cisco is thinking even bigger; it has projected that there will be more than 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020.

Unfortunately, IPv4 is still widely used, and IPv4 has only 4.3 billion possible IP addresses. Now, it’s true that that not every IoT device will need an IP address, but IPv4 can accommodate less than 20% of the devices that Gartner projects for a mere four years from now. Worse, most IPv4 addresses have already been depleted, with the one minor exception worldwide being in Africa. And even Africa’s allocation is projected to be depleted by March 31, 2018.

How much of a difference would IPv6 make? A lot. It has a total of 340 undecillion (that is 340 trillion trillion trillion) addresses. Even with the IoT fulfilling Cisco’s expectations, that should be enough for years to come.

But IPv6 adoption is weak. As of May 14, worldwide IPv6 traffic reaching Google totaled about 11.6%. The adoption rate for the U.S. federal government was about 62% for public-facing websites as of May 16. The good news is that adoption is increasing. Global IPv6 traffic accessing Google was less than 3% in January 2014 ,and only about 35% of the public-facing websites of U.S. federal agencies were using IPv6 back then.

2. Cloud computing also needs more IP addresses than IPv4 can provide.

When Microsoft chose to use IPv4 for the data centers that would support its cloud computing initiative, it had to chase globally after the extremely limited IPv4 addresses available and paid a very high price for them.

Supplies on the secondhand IPv4 exchange market are getting thin, so the price for IPv4 addresses will be going even higher — by some estimates, up to $100 per IPv4 address in the near future. Guess who will ultimately pay for such exorbitant prices. The customers, of course.

3. Adopting an IPv6-only policy can dramatically reduce cybersecurity threats.

This is simple: The moment we turn off IPv4, we will eliminate global cyberattacks and security threats based on the IPv4 stack. It may be that we have lost the battle against the bad actors in the IPv4 stack. But, we may still have a fighting chance to win the war in the IPv6 stack. This may be our best chance to gain the upper hand.

 

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