Why Asia Pacific is spearheading global Internet development through IPv6

Telecom Lead India: The last twelve months have marked a
critical turning point in the history of the Internet. This time last year, the
last blocks of IPv4 addresses were allocated from the global pool at the
Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) to the Regional Internet address
Registries, the RIRs. This was effectively the green light for businesses and
providers across the globe to start deploying IPv6. One year on, what
challenges are businesses facing as they jump on the IPv6 bandwagon? And what
lessons can be learnt from Asia Pacific as businesses in India prepare for this
new Internet era?

Spotlight on Asia

In April 2011, Asia Pacific became the first region to
run out of IPv4 addresses for Internet infrastructure deployments, due to huge
demand for IP addresses from our high-growth economies. India received
6.01million IPv4 addresses in 2011. Five of the top ten countries asking for
IPv4 address allocations were from APAC[i].


So what’s spurring Internet growth across the region? For
one, there are so many different devices now connected to the Internet, from
laptops and PCs to smartphones and tablets. Add to that a convergence of
services and you can see that the Internet is transforming from a
communications platform to a modern critical infrastructure.


India holds a unique position with regard to internet
consumption, which in turn presents vast opportunities; it has a solid Internet
infrastructure with some strong products and services that are well positioned
to meet the demands of both domestic and international markets. In addition, we
see Internet penetration increasing rapidly in India. This increase can be
clearly seen if you look at the past year alone, but heading into the future we
predict even greater growth, which could make India a global Internet leader.
Growth like this provides a credible business case for IPv6 deployment in India
because of the need to match IP address consumption to growth. 


As a result of its address requirements, Asia Pacific
became the first region to start rationing IPv4, in April 2011. The APNIC
community had already prepared itself, with a policy to allow companies in Asia
Pacific to receive just one slice (a /22, or 1024 addresses) from the final
APNIC address pool. This policy is now active, and ensures that new and
emerging networks can receive at least a small number of IPv4 addresses
required during the transition to IPv6. But it does assume that new network
infrastructures will be built on IPv6, which is the only viable way forward.


IPv6 adoption has been a gradual and steady process in
India. The prospects are very good and therefore we foresee IPv6 deployment to
be efficient, with rapid changes set to take place over the next two years as
the country embraces IPv6. India can now ‘leapfrog’ to IPv6, like users have
from fixed-line phones to mobile phones. We anticipate the expected growth of
IPv6 to match or even better that growth.


The IPv6 business conundrum

As Internet growth now means IPv6, organizations must
start thinking about deploying IPv6 across all of their networks and
services.  Wherever new Internet infrastructures are being built, they
have to be designed to run IPv6 – not just at some point in the future, but
right now.


Figuring out how to deploy IPv6 while still using IPv4 is
undoubtedly a challenge.  As businesses start the switchover to IPv6, they
will need to do so while still supporting IPv4, and without causing
performance, reliability or security issues and interrupted traffic.


At APNIC, we’re supporting real and tangible deployment
of IPv6. We’re committed to demonstrating how IPv6 can be practically deployed
in production networks, and how IPv6 addresses can be managed in the best
long-term interests of the Internet. We must be sure that with the transition
to IPv6 we will have continuity of Internet service and architecture; that we
will have an Internet that is better off, not worse.

Asia Pacific businesses and governments are leading the

Given that Asia Pacific was the first region to
experience IPv4 exhaustion, many businesses and governments in the region have
already started preparing for IPv6 and there are some interesting movements
other countries can learn from.


The most important step in quickening the pace of IPv6
deployment is to focus on improving licensing and regulations, not just in
India but also globally. The Internet provides businesses with a huge opportunity
for internationalization and in the next few years there will be no Internet
without IPv6.


Organizations should look out for world-leading research
being conducted on IPv6 in APAC. For instance, APNIC’s Research and Development
department is a leading source of research and measurement data on IPv6 usage
both in Asia Pacific and globally. Businesses can also take a look at advice
and research published by APNIC’s Chief Scientist, Geoff Huston, such as this
paper on testing IPv6 in advance of World IPv6 day.


Looking to the public sector, many governments are
actively trying to speed up their country’s transition to IPv6. The role of
government is also absolutely critical in supporting IPv6. The Indian
government has been quick to embrace the transition to a new protocol. In
India, Internet usage is already incredible and to keep the momentum going, the
government is addressing the challenges of IPv6 adoption by removing regulatory
restrictions that are often a barrier to progress.

This is only just the beginning

The Internet is growing and evolving faster than ever
before and IPv6 has a critical part to play in this evolution. But this is
really just the beginning. As companies try to exploit the huge benefits of the
Internet, which is a challenge enough already, they must now also consider
IPv6, and plan their transition.


India is picking up very fast with the dynamic changing
internet situation; it ranks no 7 in internet penetration.

My advice to businesses and governments?  When you
think Internet” please always think IPv6″, get your planning and deployment
underway – starting today – and, watch this space.

By Paul Wilson, director general, APNIC (Asia Pacific
Network Information Centre)

[email protected]