SIP over IPv6: The transition begins

An industry forum brings sets up a task force to explore issues that could complicate migrations from one addressing system to another. An executive explains the key benefits

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In the telecommunications space we all know (or at least we all should know) that IPv4 internet addresses will run out sooner than later — necessitating a shift to an IPv6 internet addressing scheme.

So where’s the sense of urgency when it comes to IPv6 adoption?

While this past summer was dubbed “The Summer of IPv6” when it comes to IP communications, to state the push towards IPv6 has lagged would be charitable.  And in light of the recent news that U.S. government got an “F” for its IPv6 Internet makeover attempts, the formation of the recently announced IPv6 Task Group is strategic timing indeed.

Created by the SIP Forum, the SIP over IPv6 Task Group (IPv6) intends to address key deployment and interoperability issues in the telecommunications industry’s migration to SIP over IPv6.  “The thought process behind the task force is that we’re seeing to create a more standards-based approach to making the transition towards IPv6,” notes SIP Forum managing director and president Marc Robins, adding that previously “there was a lack of best practices to direct people on how best to migrate.”

Drawing members and stakeholders from the respective service provider, application developer and equipment communities, the ratified seven point charter for the group outlines the migration issues at play in making any switch from SIP technologies including IPv4. This includes evaluating current status of SIP over IPv6 based on IETF and other industry standardization; identifying areas where existing standards for SIP over IPv6 and dual stack are inadequate or non-existent, such as technical documents, network architectures and standards; and acting as a technical industry resource on matters related to SIP over IPv6 and SIP in Dual IP networks.

To be fair, a growing number of service providers and companies have indeed implemented and enabled IPv6 website addresses, but there is still some ways to go in reaching critical mass. While the Canadian government has indeed formally recognized the importance of an IPv6 strategy, the best thing that enterprise IT organizations can do is understand the “big picture” and implications of adopting IPv6.

The ultimate power of the Task Group is for members within the telecommunications industry to get actively involved to open discussion and debate in ensuring that the IPv6 switch for organizations is as seamless as possible. This is where strategies such as “IPv4/IPv6 co-existence and identifying impacts of these technologies on SIP-based networks and the user experience” as outlined in the Task Force’s charter come in, notes Robbins.

The raison d’etre of the IPv6 Task Force is in essentially “laying the asphalt down” and building an standards-based approach that incorporates transition technologies and dual stack devices on existing SIP networks, he adds. And considering the last blocks of IPv4 addresses were assigned to the Regional Internet Registry in 2011 and globally this address space is projected to run out in 2014, organizations will need to tackle this situation sooner rather than later.

“Companies are all going down the path of figuring out how to migrate. We hope at the end of the day we’re going to have a specification that will be physically adopted by everyone.”

Learn more about the power of SIP technologies by watching our on-demand Webinar, SIP Trunking: Take Your UC Strategy to the Next Level, or download our white paper, Getting Ready for IPv6.

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